Ali Campbell aims to give his girls a ‘cringe-free’ celebration of Easter
As our children have grown to be 15 and 17 years of age, we have learned to be led by them. The moment we try and decide on their behalf or make something happen without a conversation, we hit resistance - and rightly so! Also, if we are doing something together that has blatant connection to scripture or our understanding of the Christian faith and our life with God, we try not to do is make it a “teachable moment” by adding to what we are sharing together. They already know, so reinforcing an obvious message leads to eye rolls and exasperated sighs!
So what I am sharing is not a fool proof plan of “doing Easter with your teens”, they are simply what we do as we have developed and grown as a family. Each aspect also overlaps with the others, I’ve just broken our Easter activities in to these themes to then pose questions as we go. First up then :
We have family traditions - the word tradition literally means “to pass on”. I didn’t grow up with any that I can recall, so it has been as wonderful for me, as for our children, to join a family that has some! “Egg Dumping” requires hard boiled eggs (we usually boil them in water with onion skins, which colours the eggs). You take your egg while another competitor holds their egg and you tap their egg witth yours, trying to break theirs whilst not breaking your own. There are six of us, as grandparents are included in this game and the winner gets a cream egg. We also put up an Egg Tree, just a simple tree made of twigs with eggs hanging on it - reminding us of new life from what appears to be dead (the twig tree). Are teens are fully part of both of these and there is fierce competition in the egg dumping!
What family traditions do you have? What could you create together that becomes one?
We keep doing some of the things they enjoyed when they were younger. Everything changes so rapidly as our children grow, but this can sometimes mean we rush them through - thinking they are growing out of activities they used to enjoy but would now consider too childish. Childish according to who? This is where deciding needs to be a conversation with them, rather than moving on to supposedly more grown up activities. So, two things they continue to love - an egg hunt in the back yard and making Easter nests. With the egg hunt, we have developed the tech for one aspect - we each hide one egg and then take a zoomed in photo on our phones of where the egg is, hoping it will be fiendishly tricky to find.
Are there activities they used to enjoy as children but you have stopped? What could they rediscover? Continuity gives teenagers stability and confidence when so much else is changing around them.
Prayer and Worship
Recently, as a family, we have been looking to celebrate ’Sabbath’. We started doing “blessing prayers” at meals where we each pray a blessing over one other person before we eat together. We also go together as a family to take part in the the prayer stations that are set up in our church during Holy Week. When our children were younger we might have walked round the stations together, helping, modelling what to do, chatting about the activities and prayer suggestions. Now, we each disappear off to the spaces that draw us. As parents, we might occasionally look up from our own prayers to see how they are doing, and so often they are deep in thought or sitting still, writing, drawing, praying. Trusting that they are encountering God in a way that makes sense to them is such an important part of our journey as parents! Both our girls are involved in worship at Church, and at some point we will worship together - probably Easter Sunday - as a family with our eldest leading us at the piano. We don’t determine the songs or for how long, we just worship together.
How and where do you create space for encounter? What does it look like for you to pray and worship in the home?
Finally, food. So many of the incredible conversations Jesus had with his friends and disciples happened around meal times or when food was on the agenda - whether feeding 5000 or a fish breakfast over the fire on the beach after the resurrection. We generally have lamb on Maundy Thursday, fish on Good Friday and we make a point of eating together around the table with phones away. It is tricky to introduce a practice at a particular time of year - whether Easter or Christmas or whenever, that isn’t already something important. When we can, we eat together at the table.
How do you make time and space to eat together? What do you do to encourage conversation about your day and where God has been present in it?
Conversation typically flows about our days and, as we eat over Easter, we will take it in turns to read small sections of the narrative found in the Gospels to remind us of God’s story that envelops our family - that the annual feasts and festivals are the traditions that hold us together; that the continuity at the heart of our family life is Jesus himself; that prayer and worship are about entering in to His presence together - at home and wherever we are; and that as we have food and drink together, we remember all that Jesus has done for us. These rhythms might look different as our children grow, we continue to need to step back and let them lead us. The joy is found in the fact that whatever we find ourselves doing, we do it together.