I had to stop and think about that because although my husband and I each give something up for Lent each year, we generally undertake the decision of what to give up as a private matter and don't really discuss it until after the decision is made when we ask for mutual support. The more I thought about it, though, the more it made sense to make this a family affair. If we observe Advent as a family, why should we wait to include them in Lent?
Our children attend Lutheran school where they had participated in an Ash Wednesday service already this morning, so it was pretty easy to start the conversation. At 4 and 6, they weren't too clear on the details, but Mugger did pick up that the ashes were to remind us that we were sinful and to show God that we were sorry. We told them that during the 40 days of Lent some people give up something that can be a temptation for them (like too much coffee or too much Facebooking) to remind them of how Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days. Every time we are tempted towards whatever we gave up, we can remember how Jesus was tempted and ask Him for help in resisting the temptation. And every time we fail to resist the temptation, we can be thankful that Jesus was able to resist for our sakes and ask Him to restore us.
Once they understood that, we asked them if they had any ideas for what they could give up. Bug immediately said she wanted to give up being naughty -- oh, that it were that easy! We told them we wanted to come up with something more specific and if it could be the same thing for all of us, we would be able to help each other with loving correction.
So what did we come up with? Picking a specific example of naughtiness, we decided we wanted to give up screaming at each other for Lent. The kiddos tend to use screaming in disrespect at the start of a tantrum (usually when we tell them something the opposite of what they wanted) and we tend to use screaming when we're at our wits' end with frustration over their disobedience. To help each other, we agreed that if we're in a situation where it seems like screaming is about to happen, one of us may gently say, "No screaming for Lent."
So, Mindy, there's your answer, at least that's how we're doing it in our house. I also like to add something in when we're working on taking something out, so we're renewing our efforts at nightly family devotions and talking about beginning deliberate Bible verse memorization with our kiddos.
If you know me in real life, feel free to hold me accountable and ask me how it's going :) And if anyone has some resources for Scripture-memorization with kiddos, feel free to share them. Tonight we opened up a CD/DVD combo entitled "Hide 'Em in Your Heart" that we received awhile back, but the video is very dated -- it's a great lesson on '80s fashion, actually. I do love the concept, though, of putting Bible verses to music to aid memorization, so feel free to comment with any resources that have worked for you.