What is Lent?
Lent is a 40 day period of time that Western churches (Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox) observe that marks the time that Jesus Christ spent in the desert fasting. Lent is the preparation for Easter and is spent in fasting and repentance with the purpose to refocus our time on the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for our salvation in His death and resurrection.
How can the Lenten season prepare us to be more family-focused?
God’s design for families is essential and foundational for healthy communities. Our families are the “training grounds” for life and a time to establish healthy habits and disciplines. The Church offers tremendous wisdom on the organization and importance of the family. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Sadly today, there is a breakdown of the family unit more than ever. A new study suggests “that the average family spends only 49 minutes per day. (National Family Week)” Quality family time is proven to strengthen the emotional bonds between family members. It is also reported that families that participate in one religious activity per week and parental prayer more than once a day have a greater expression of love and affection between parents (familyfacts.org). The love between a father and mother transcends the experience of love with children and their love for God.
Academic success is also associated with frequent, quality communication. Kids are less likely to have emotional and behavioral problems at school when their parents spend quality time together and are supported by faith-based activities that promote family values.
Eight ways your family can participate in the Lenten season by sacrificing individual time and focusing on family quality time?
- Limit screen (tv and internet) time and make if family-focused. Use this time to interact and not as a “vegging” state. Do something different altogether and give up electronics for a night. Replace it with “family game night.”
- Eat dinner together. Turn off the tv, phones, and computers. Ask your kids questions about their day, ideas for upcoming family projects and activities, or wishes for the family. Play the mad, sad, or glad game. Everyone must share one of each for the day. Promotes communication and builds relationships.
- Work together and share household responsibilities. Do the dishes together or work in the yard. Instead of each person doing their own chore – do it together.
- Establish a weekly date with each child. If you have more than one child, switch it up the following week. Go get ice cream, to the grocery store, park, movies, library, ride bikes, etc.
- Share an interest. Family camping trips and other outdoor experiences help us to leave our “communication devices” and other distractions and focus on building relationships.
- Eat breakfast together one day a week. Make a tradition to cook a family breakfast every Saturday and give everyone a job so they are invested (cooking, setting the table, cleaning up). Ask your kids to plan the menu.
- Plan a day trip. Involve the kids, get their ideas and allow them to help organize.
- Go to Church. “A family that prays together, stays together.”
By: Jamie Schofield, M.A., CAMT, Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor and Executive Director of Faithfully Guided, Inc.
In just one example, according to Jane Healy, Ph.D. of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Research has shown that ‘mindless’ television or video games may idle and impoverish the development of the pre-frontal cortex, or that portion of the brain that is responsible for planning, organizing and sequencing behavior for self-control, moral judgment and attention.”