One of the most effective ways to promote harmony in a new blended family is to develop new traditions. Children look forward to special occasions. So in our family, Sunday is our special day. We make sure we keep it holy by doing our obligations to hear Sunday mass, avoiding work in our jobs on Sundays and doing house chores to bare minimum. The teenagers go to their friends on Saturday and free up their schedule on Sunday. Everyone finishes their chores on Saturday to make sure we rest on Sunday.
Many people would ask us how we can unite our children to one single family activity when there is a wide disparity in their ages. It was a problem in the beginning when we started out as a blended family. It was a challenge to convince the teenagers to join us in our family fun day when obviously the Internet, their computers and video games were more enticing. It was getting expensive to plan out our little vacations every now and then.
We needed to find a common strength in our family. We went back to the basics and the very core of the existence of our family. How do we lead these children to God? Five days a week they are confronted with peer pressure and perhaps godless conversations with their public school friends. We have an eighteen year old that will next year go to college. What memories will he take with him?
We decided to join a pilgrimage to a park with a huge statue of Mary and the Infant Jesus. Unfortunately, we missed our group but we decided to continue with our plans. We bought pizza, drinks and the children picked up flowers in our yard to offer to our Mother.
What is a pilgrimage Dad? It was another teaching moment for us, parents, to explain what a pilgrimage entails. We told them that it is a journey to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion. We explained that we are going to end the month of the Holy Rosary to offer some flowers and pray the rosary at a nearby shrine. The long trek was beginning to be annoying when my husband kept getting lost. We did not expect the journey to be longer than what was in the map. We wanted to turn back and forget the whole thing. We were getting restless.
It was comforting to finally reach our destination. The park had nothing except some picnic tables and a huge altar with building-size statue of Mary and the Infant Jesus of Prague. Angel statues were on the side of the altar. It was adorned with flowers and candles. The park-like setting created a relaxed ambience conducive to prayer. For some reason, we felt invited. We felt peace.
The children offered their flowers at the foot of the altar. Our daughter, who always makes her “bad back” as her excuse for refusing to kneel down each time we say our family rosary prayer at home, happily knelt down on the hard cement floor. Everyone followed to kneel and we started to pray the rosary. We ended our prayers with our tradition of praying for unborn babies and the St. Michael Prayer.
It was a beautiful sight to see our children gathered up in prayer. Momentarily, I forgot our stresses in life. I thanked God for this day. No one was complaining, unusual for our children who are fond of bickering on normal days. Family traditions, especially related to our Catholic Faith, create a sense of harmony in our children. Children clamor to belong. With their divergent interests, it is unimaginable how peaceful these children are at that very moment in prayer.
Do not wait too long to start your Catholic-based family traditions. Do not fear the rejection of your teenagers to your uncool ideas. Do not lost hope when they act bored and disinterested. Remain steadfast in your goals for making baby steps to enrich their lives with spiritual experiences that they will one day pass on to their own families.
It is our first time to experience a “pilgrimage” as a family. It forms part of our memoir in our new blended family. It is simple to arrange but such great feeling of peace.
To learn more tips on how to raise your children in your blended family, join our discussion group at www.mrstreasures.com and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/catholicblendedfamilies/