Focus on the Family

Ideas for Creating Traditions

Here are a few ideas real moms and dads have created to set an atmosphere where words of affirmation and moments of celebration can be shared.

by Pam Farrel, Doreen Hanna

A teenage girl will see a rite-of-passage celebration and a blessing as a natural and normal activity if you can weave encouragement into her life on a regular basis. Look for times, places and opportunities to share encouraging, affirming and inspiring words with your daughter. Following are a few ideas real moms and dads have created to set an atmosphere where words of affirmation and moments of celebration can be shared. See which of these traditions might work for your family!

On a Nightly Basis: Our [the Farrel] family prays at every meal, and every night before bed we pray with each child and bless and affirm his character and choices. Then each child prays to thank God for the day. Lane Jordan, author of 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Mom, added her twist to this ritual and writes:

The one thing I did that created a tradition was to carve out time each evening and read to my daughters. With the age difference of the girls, I had to do this reading two times. So I remember having to make a crucial decision between that and television. I am so thankful God gave me the desire to do the reading! The result of this special time together gave us the time to talk, to bond and to give them the head knowledge and heart longing for God's Word as well as for great literature.

The girls "let" me read to them until they were 15 years old! With their heads on my shoulder or in my lap, I was able to have the physical contact that I believe so many mothers yearn for from their children. I also believe that this time helped them to stay on the right path from so many of the destructive choices that are in our world today.1

[Note from authors: This kind of tradition sets up a daily time of natural, open sharing and affirmation between a parent and teen daughter — even after the "reading" time might come to an end.]

On the First Date: Ron and Gina work with youth through Teen Impact ministry. (Ron mentored two of the Farrel boys in high school.) Gina shares this idea: "When Petra and Paige (our daughters) went on their first dates, Ron gave them each a 'Celebration' present. He gave them each a cross necklace and told them how much he respected them for honoring their contracts and going on their first dates with growing Christian men."

On a Pivotal Birthday: Television personality Christie Rayburn, cohost of Marriage Uncensored with Dave and Christie, created a rite of passage of the "feminine kind" for her daughter Taylor on the day she turned 13. The centerpiece of the table at that celebration was 12 white candles and one pink one.

Colossians 3 was selected as Taylor's life Scripture passage, and that set of verses was framed and was part of the centerpiece. Christie had invited key women in Taylor's life to the celebration, and beforehand, she had given each woman a character trait to focus on. That trait was to be the focus of some words of wisdom prepared to share with Taylor.

At the celebration birthday party, first, Christie shared the privilege of being Taylor's mom, and all the roles she had played in Taylor's life (teacher, disciplinarian, spiritual advisor, etc.). Christie then invited each woman to share the trait and any words of wisdom she had for Taylor. Each woman spoke truth into Taylor's life and committed to continue to be a positive influence, mentor and role model for Taylor.

The celebration continued as Christie would introduce the next trait of a godly woman, and one by one, the invited guests were encouraged to speak into Taylor's life. Christie then explained to Taylor that as she transitioned into her 13th year, she would be taking on the responsibility for growing and developing her own life, and that Christie's role was now shifting.

Christie concluded the ceremony as she blew out the 12 white candles and Taylor was asked to light the one pink candle, signifying she accepted the responsibility of womanhood. Then this gathering of women prayed and enjoyed each other's company and desserts together. Christie plans to invite these same women back to celebrate Taylor as she crosses into adulthood at 18 as well.2

Annetta E. Dellinger, an author known as a "Joyologist," creates memories for her family with a dash of laughter and a splash of encouragement. "On our daughter's 13th birthday, she got 13 of her favorite foods to eat. She received a box with 13 little gifts (lotions, brushes, candy, etc., and one special item she requested) to open one each day for 13 days."

[Authors' note: You can add 13 cards of encouragement, 13 words that describe her or other affirmations to bless your daughter.]


1Personal story shared with Pam Farrel. Used by permission. (www.LaneJordan.com)
2Shared in personal conversation (March 2009). Used by permission.