As youth workers, we typically cringe at the thought of tradition. We think it’s part of some residual trauma leftover from trying to do relevant youth ministry while church members chant angrily, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Too often the need to protect tradition has become an enormous barrier in youth ministry.
Over the years, however, we’ve learned that not all traditions are bad. Especially when it comes to family. Healthy families have healthy traditions.
Our goal as parents (and as youth workers) is to give our kids (and students) roots and wings. We want them to know they are grounded in a family who loves them and believes in them, and we want them to feel safe and have courage enough to fly. Tradition is one that way roots and wings become possible.
Here are a few of our favorite traditions:
- Leverts dress up in full gameday gear every Saturday and Sunday during football season. (Geaux Tigers and Who Dat!?!!)
- Leverts burn school supplies to celebrate the last day of school.
- Leverts eat ice cream every day of vacation.
- Leverts eat dinner at the table with the TV off.
- Leverts ask, “What was the best part of your day?” every night at the dinner table.
- Leverts raise their hands rollercoaster-style every time their plane lands (Southwest thinks this is funny . . . Delta, not so much).
- Leverts dance wildly during the credits of a movie watched at home.
- Leverts sleep late as often as possible.
- Leverts throw great parties.
- Leverts eat gumbo only when it’s gumbo weather.
- Leverts dance in the kitchen.
- Leverts never miss a parade.
- Leverts are the first ones on the dance floor.
- Leverts never turn down seconds.
Some of our traditions spill over in to our youth group as well.
- When a Levert girl becomes old enough to be part of the youth group, we buy them an air mattress and silly sheets to have for the rest of their youth group experience. (Elle has Perry the Platypus sheets; Zoe has Tinker Bell.)
- Every time we drive through Tim’s hometown, he makes us raise our right hand and repeat some crazy pledge, “Hail thee, o city of Denham Springs …” (Special thanks to Glen Whatley for sharing that tradition with us.)
- If someone asks, “How much longer?” when we are on a roadtrip, Tim will always answer, “Forty-five more minutes,” in a goofy accent that only Tim can pull off. (Special thanks to Steve Veteto for sharing that tradition with us.)
- We always look for where the locals are eating when we travel to new places so we can experience their food and culture (this NEVER includes Hard Rock Café or Olive Garden!).
- Random acts of kindness are our favorite.
Take some time to think about your family (and youth group) traditions. Are they fun? Are they intentional? Do they help you live and reveal God’s Kingdom? Do they make people feel special? Do they give your kids (and students) roots and wings?
If you don’t have any family traditions, start making some today. Don’t over think it. It’s never too late. Traditions are the things that make your family unique. Go for it.
– Tim & Tasha Levert