Extended family can be a blessing when you are raising children. Unfortunately, COVID has kept many young children away from older and family members at higher risk for months or more. While Zoom and FaceTime helped bridge some of the gap, there can still be a bit of an emotional disconnect when your children haven’t spent as much time with their extended family. They’ve also possibly missed out on some of the spiritual mentoring Christian relatives can provide….because sometimes your kids will listen to something important from a favorite aunt or grandparent that they will ignore if said by you.
There’s a fun project your kids can do that can help them connect emotionally with loved ones and give them some spiritual mentoring in the process. This project is best done in person, but if necessary, can also be completed by using Zoom or other communication vehicles that allow recording.
Explain to your kids that many of the stories in the Bible are actually stories that are about the interactions of certain families with God. They have been passed on as important stories God wants us to learn and understand for thousands of years now. Tell them every family has stories to share. Some are happy. Some are sad. Some are almost unbelievable. But often families have stories to tell of how they interacted with God, too.
You may want to share a story about a relative you knew growing up, but your kids have never met. Tell your kids that if you didn’t tell them that story it would be forgotten. Without sharing our stories, it is almost as if the stories of our lives die with us.
Give your kids the assignment of making a family documentary. Explain that you want them to capture important family stories, so their kids and grandkids can know them in the future. Work with your kids to develop a list of questions they want to record relatives answering. Try to have at least a few questions that will encourage someone to tell a story from their life.
If your extended family is Christian, focus the entire activity on faith stories. If your extended family is not Christian, your kids may ask slightly different questions, but the stories your relatives tell can still possibly be used by you later to point out the difference God can make in someone’s life.
To make it less intimidating for family members, your kids may want to give them the questions in advance. You don’t want stories that sound too rehearsed, but you also don’t want a relative to struggle thinking of an answer. For relatives who are camera shy, do your best to reassure them their stories are more important than anything, but seeing them will make the stories more impactful on future generations.
Younger kids may need help editing the finished film, but older ones can probably do it quickly and will enjoy the project more if they have creative control. Once you’ve enjoyed the film with your kids, consider having a movie premier night and invite the extended family. Don’t forget after the project is over to spend time with your kids reflecting on the lessons they learned from their relatives. It will give you an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings and reinforce important points you want them to remember.
Have fun with it. Who knows? You may be raising the next Christian film maker!