What is Lent? Lent for Kids, Made Easy

February 26, 2021 by Janel Breitenstein

I know Lent is almost here when fast-food signs start advertising fish sandwiches. But maybe it isn’t something your family traditionally practices. When the kids start asking, “What is Lent?”—you might be scrambling for answers that don’t include “Filet-O-Fish.”


So allow me a brief rundown of lent for kids, in language they (and we) can understand—and some tips to help it sink in. Then, grab FamilyLife’s Lent paper chain, “Countdown to the Cross,” with easy-does-it activities to help you count down to Easter together.


“What is Lent?”: The easy answer

Lent is the 40 days—not including Sundays!—from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter. Christians around the world consider Lent a time to reflect on what Jesus did for us.


Remember how John the Baptist expressed a need to prepare the way for Jesus through repentance and humility? Lent is a time, too, to get our hearts ready to truly appreciate Jesus’ death for us and celebrate Easter.

Because Jesus’ death was the greatest sacrifice ever—some people fast, giving up certain foods or behaviors. Some do it only on Fridays. (Many Catholics historically fast from meat, dairy, or eggs … hence the reason Arby’s needs a fish sandwich every spring).


Less-than-fun fact: Mardi Gras is literally translated “Fat Tuesday.” That’s because some people party it up on the last day before fasting for Lent. It was originally just the last opportunity to feast before fasting, but unfortunately, now it’s more associated with wild partying.


Talk with older kids about ways Christian holidays can sometimes go off the rails. It can be fine to have fun with friends or go on an Easter egg hunt—but keeping Christ the reason for it all is important. Even Lent has, at times, been a path to self-righteousness.


What are the important days in Lent? Got ideas for Lent for kids?

Considering there are 40 days in Lent, the most notable calendar days are at the beginning and end.


Ash Wednesday

This day kicks off Lent. Speaking verses like “for you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), a priest or pastor applies ashes in the shape of a cross to a person’s forehead. It’s a day for humbling ourselves, for remembering God is great—yet made us from dust.


Family Time Tip: To dig deeper into this day as a family, you could listen to (and even memorize) this song from Seeds Family Worship, written to the words from 1 Peter 1:24-25: “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 


Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday/Covenant Thursday/etc.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. We remember the Thursday when Jesus ate the Last Supper with His twelve disciples and was then betrayed by Judas, arrested, and put on an unjust trial. Check out Matthew 26 for the whole story.


Fun fact: “Maundy” comes from a Latin word for “command”—because it’s on this night that Jesus famously commanded His disciples, “As I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).


Family Time Tip: Kids interact with the text far more when they get a chance to act things out. (And who hasn’t secretly wished to arrest a sibling?) Let them use props: bread and juice, flashlights to act as torches, play swords.


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Good Friday

Though it may seem ironic to call it “good,” the Friday before Easter is when Christians commemorate Jesus’ death on a Roman cross. Songs and gatherings often carry a sad feeling, to meditate on the sorrow of this day—and the need for Jesus to die because of our sin.


The “good” part describes the incredible gift of God’s forgiveness because of Jesus’ atoning blood and death, paying the price for our wrongdoing (sin) for all who believe: “ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Family Time Tip: As a family, wear black on Good Friday to remind you these are sad days, because Jesus needed to die for our sins.


Easter Sunday

Easter is technically not part of Lent (like the other Sundays, which are celebrations of Jesus’ death and resurrection—so not traditional days of fasting). It’s after the 40 days.


But it is the “happy ending” of Lent: Jesus rose again!


This can be the “party day” in your home—not only did Jesus die for our sins, but He grabbed victory over our worst enemy, death, and every other enemy. We also know that those of us who trust Him to save us will be raised from the dead, too.


Family Time Tip: You probably don’t need many more Easter activity ideas—though you’re encouraged to come up with unique ideas that really make it feel like a celebration! 


But in every fun Easter activity, talk about how our Easter celebrations are all because Jesus rising from the dead is worth celebrating. That’s the real reason to whoop it up and chomp a chocolate bunny ear.

 

But we’re not Catholic. Should we practice Lent?

For lots of Protestants, Lent is still a thing. Some argue it can be tied to self-righteousness or legalism (if we’re trying to gain God’s favor, say, or prove our goodness). But done well, there’s a lot of richness in a season dedicated to prayer, remembering, and self-discipline.


In fact, many Protestants still fast, but not just be from food. This is a great time to introduce the “training wheels” of the discipline of fasting to your kids! Think of it as a spiritual life skill.


We choose against something we really like or crave for a little while so we can be satisfied by him—our true feast—rather than all the pleasures in our lives that dull our appetite for Him. (Like snarfing a bag of Cheetos before a 5-course meal at a snazzy restaurant.)


Rather than fasting being about our own greatness, fasting is a sweet offering to God: He’s the hero. Though God clearly says it’s worthy of reward, Matthew 6:16-18 reminds us fasting is about humbling ourselves privately before God.


Family Time Tip: Lent for kids could look like a fast from complaining, TV or movies, sugar or soda, social media, fast food (sorry, Arby’s), backtalk, even video games. It could mean one night a week, the meal is just vegetables and bread. Fasting chooses to snip the ties of habits that control us. It learns to appreciate the Giver more than our gifts.


To think about a meaningful fast, ask questions like, “What’s one thing that occasionally becomes too important to me. Or even masters me?” Or “What’s one activity that, instead of doing it, I could be hanging out with God?” The answer will probably be different for each of you

.

What is Lent? An opportunity for your family to dive deeper

Lent is a prime time to introduce spiritual disciplines—prayer, fasting, remembering, simplicity, celebrating—into your family’s lifestyle and rhythms. You’re modeling and cheering on “lay[ing] aside every weight” in order to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus” (Hebrews 1:1-2).


No, Lent is not an event enforced by the powers that be. But what Lent could be for your family? That’s your happy choice.


Let us know your thoughts by clicking here.

6 Ways to Stop Sibling Fighting

February 22, 2021 by Don & Suzanne Manning

Siblings as best friends is one of the most important ideas you can

implement in your family. With seven kids and a 17-year age gap

between the first and last kid (and siblings every two years in between)

you can imagine the fights that happened in our home among the

siblings.


Everything from not sharing and saying mean things to jealousy all

happened over the years. But we worked very hard to build a culture

where fighting was the exception not the norm. We believe and showed

our kids how to believe that siblings can and will be best friends for life.

When you implement the six ways to stop sibling fighting in your family

you will start to see your kids go from antagonizing each other to looking

out for each other and from avoiding each other to being best friends!

You and your kids will love the new atmosphere and the relational

friendships that come from proactively investing in siblings as best

friends!


We are excited to see how God connects your kids to each other!

- Don & Suzanne


Click here for a pdf version of this article.



1. PRAY


We've got to invite God into our kids' relationships with each other. He is where our help comes from.


There are many ways to pray that will help keep your kids from fighting:

  • Pray for each sibling relationship specifically,
  • especially the more difficult ones.
  • Pray for an atmosphere of peace in your home.
  • Pray for God to show you ways to help your kids
  • connect with each other.
  • Pray for you to have the patience to deal with the
  • fights.
  • Have siblings pray for each other


2. Make a Good/Not Good List


Have your child write down the things he likes and

doesn’t like about the other sibling. This is great for a kid

date night.


Make a two-column list on a piece of paper. Write down

the things he likes on the left and the things he doesn’t

like on the right. This may take some silence as your child

thinks, but you can help him process his thoughts by

asking him questions.


Together, thank God for everything he listed that he likes

about his sibling – spend some time here, don’t rush

through the good things – and show him how his sibling

is a blessing to the family, just like he is as well.


Next, look at what he doesn’t like about his sibling. Talk

about how you both can work together to help his sibling

in those areas and how God could be using those

difficulties to help him grow and mature.


We all need to learn to appreciate the God-designed

differences in our families. This is also a great place to

flip their thinking by discussing ways to see unlikeable

qualities as beneficial qualities.



3. Have Practice Play Time


Put them together under your care until they can

learn how to play well together.


Here’s a great principle to put in your home: The

more your children fight, the more time they

spend together. “Kids, if you can’t get along, it’s

obvious you need more practice!”


You can make it fun by going out together as a

family, or by putting them in a room where you can

listen in to help avoid a meltdown.


If they have another conflict, encourage them to

work it out and let you know how they succeeded.

Then, really praise them for their success!



4. Remove The Conflict Issue


Take away whatever toy or game they may be

fighting over, and put it away for the day.


Here’s another great principle for your home: The

relationship is much more important than the toy.

We value people over things. So, if the toy is the

issue – or the TV show or the video game or

whatever – the toy goes away until they can learn

how to share it.


This relates back to honoring others’ space and

property. If it is the property of one child – her doll

or her Lego set she got for Christmas – then we

teach the child to be willing to share. And we teach

the other sibling how to take care of something that

doesn’t belong to her. But if things get in the way of

the relationship, the toy will be removed until they

can reach a resolution on how to use it together.



5. Make a Stance


Make a stance that fighting is unacceptable.

Sibling fighting is the equivalent of lying and other

major “kid sins.”


When your kids know how much their getting

along means to you, over time it will become

important to them as well. Tell your kids that

because we value relationships at such a high

level in our home, fighting is unacceptable,

period.


“But they hurt me first!” “I understand, and I will

help them understand where they are wrong. But

you are going to be a person who stops the fight,

not continues it.”


We stop fighting by building a culture in our home

where sibling relationships are cherished.



6. Encourage Each Other Often


If you want your kids to stop saying mean things to

each other, teach them to speak encouraging

words.


First, you set the example by being an encourager

yourself. Then give them opportunities to be

encouraging as well. “Let’s go find your brother and

tell him something good about him.”


Being encouraging and teaching your children to

be encouraging will do wonders toward

eliminating fighting.


When we think about the good things in others, it

overcomes our thinking about how they may be

hurting us.



Want To Go Deeper?


This is such an important topic and one that can

change the course of your family culture forever.


If you like these topics and saw progress, we have a

whole digital course on this that goes much deeper

into Siblings as Best Friends.


Siblings CAN and SHOULD be best friends for life!


For more information on this course, click here.


Let us know some ways that you use, or if these steps have helped you by clicking here.





























































Do You Want the Best Family Ever

Free Webinar and Website to Teach You How

We’re told that 50-70% of kids will leave their faith after they leave home. But think about this: what kind of decisions would your kids make if they truly loved & followed Jesus?


YOU HAVE SO MUCH INFLUENCE OVER YOUR FAMILY, BUT YOU HAVE TO START NOW.


Raising and teaching your kids to fall in love with Jesus is the most important thing you will ever do. Parenting is hard work and we aren’t meant to do it without His help. Here’s a fun couple who are passionate about doing this and have some free resources to help you out:


Click here to check out their website.


The ONE key strategy that will change the way you parent forever!


If the idea of successfully raising kids who love Jesus, you, and each other makes you excited, this live training is for you!


Are struggling with any of the following?


😤 Your kids are constantly fighting with each other.

❌ You feel like you are always saying “No.”

👂 You can’t get your kids to listen and obey.

✝️ You are struggling with your kids being interested in pursuing their faith.

😡 You’re tired of the bad attitudes.

😄 You want your family to ENJOY being together.


In our FREE live training, we’ll show you how to successfully raise kids who:


🧡 love Jesus

🧡 love you

🧡 and love each other.


It IS possible!


All seven of our kids love the Lord, love us, and love each other. We all have great relationships.


But it wasn’t always that way.


It took what we’re about to teach you for us to get to where we are now!

We could have never guessed that what we’re about to teach you is as important as it has been for our family and hundreds of other families we’ve taught over the years, too!


WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:


💫 Find out if you’ve been spending too much time controlling outside behaviors and what to do instead.


💫 See how you can influence their hearts to love Jesus by simply shifting the way you think.


💫 This ONE THING will determine the strength of your family now and in the future (HINT: read Matthew 22)


If you’re ready to change the way you do family, jump in and choose a time that works best for you to watch the webinar by clicking here.


  • Do you want your kids to obey & not resist all.the.time? (um, yes!)
  • Do you want to raise godly, confident kids who make wise decisions at every age? (*I'm in!)
  • Do you want your children to stop fighting each other? (YUP!)
  • Do you want your family to be fun instead of stressful? (is this even possible? Short answer parents...YES!)

(of COURSE you do!)

BUT IF YOUR KIDS:

  • Don’t obey...

  • Fight all day every day (or at least it feels like it)...

  • Aren’t following Jesus...

  • Are being deceptive...

And you feel like you’re losing your kids + you don’t know WHAT to do

THIS WEBINAR IS FOR YOU!


WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
STEP 1:
Signs you’re an Outside-In Parent
Find out if you’ve been spending too much time controlling outside behaviors and what to do instead.

STEP 2:
How to become an Inside-Out Parent
See how you can influence their hearts to love Jesus by simply shifting the way you think.

STEP 3:
Becoming your family’s BIGGEST influence
This ONE THING will determine the strength of your family now and in the future (HINT: read Matthew 22).


Let us know your thoughts by clicking here.


10 Ideas to Make Valentine's Day Fun for the Whole Family

February 8, 2021 by Rachel Miller

Valentine’s Day is usually thought of as a holiday for romantic love. But why not celebrate this Valentine’s Day as a special family day? Using this winter holiday as a time of family togetherness is a fun way to share the love.


Kids Activities Blog is in favor of activities that can bring families closer together. A day devoted to love is the perfect time to celebrate family!


VALENTINE'S DAY FAMILY FUN


This Valentine’s Day there are lots of ways to celebrate family love.


COMMUNICATE LOVE WITH YOUR WORDS THIS VALENTINE’S DAY


Here are some simple ways we can show love to our families.


No Complaints – Use the 24hr period of Valentines Day to ban complaints. Parents included!  

Be the first to apologize – If you have done something hurtful or inconsiderate take this time to apologize. As a parent, it is often hard to admit when we are wrong, and yet, apologizing can bring you closer together!

Tell a love story – Tell the kids one of the reasons that you fell in love with their mom or dad (even if you are separated from your child’s other parent, this is good for your kid to hear).

Share the love – Tell your family members that you love them. It is amazing how important those words are!


FAMILY DAY ACTIVITIES


Go on a date together as a whole family – Is there a family event or place that your kids enjoy where you can be together? We love going to play centers and the park if the weather is nice.


Share a meal – Have a picnic as a family. On cold days it can be really fun to spread a sheet out on the living room floor. The change of scenery makes the meal more exciting for the kids, and the paper plates make clean-up fun for the parents!


Create a surprise – Encourage your kids do help you with a surprise for your spouse or another family member. You can decorate a welcome home banner, decorate pictures, bring him something at work, be creative. Think about doing a family secret pal activity.


Be close – Cuddle together as a family. If your kids are young, have a tickle-fest! My preschoolers love being with their mommy & daddy.


Be thankful – Look for three things to thank each of your family members for throughout the day.


Be thoughtful – Make an extra effort to actively listen to to your children and your spouse. Ask them leading questions to encourage them to talk to you.


VALENTINE’S DAY AS FAMILY DAY


There are lots of ways you can celebrate this Valentines Day in a special family way. The main thing is to step back and think about what might make a special memory beyond flowers and candy.


What special things do you do to celebrate Valentine's Day? Let us know by clicking here.

Seven Days of Valentine's Devotions for Families

Day One: Without Love

February 5, 2021 by Marsha Hays

This is the first day of a week of Valentine’s Devotions for Families using Biblical passages on love.


If your family is at all like mine, you need Biblical reminders of how to love one another all year long, but the Valentine season is a great time to emphasize God’s teachings on love. Spend a week in February (or anytime really) encouraging your family to love with Valentine’s devotions. I suggest you start the Sunday before Valentine’s and celebrate love all week, but you can use them however is best for your family. Links for each day will be added at the end of this post as they are complete. I pray these Valentine’s Devotions for Families bless your family in Christ.


Day One: Without Love


Opening Activity

Gather a variety of children’s percussion instruments, such as drums, cymbals, or maracas. If you don’t have any of these on hand, make your own or just use the pots and pans from the kitchen for drums and a box of salt or oatmeal or something similar to shake.


Prepare a list of familiar children’s such as Jesus Loves Me, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Ring Around the Roses, Mary Had a Little Lamb, The B-I-B-L-E, etc. You can print the names of the songs on separate slips of paper for older children, or just whisper the title to younger children.


One at a time, give each family member a song and an “instrument.” The person plays the rhythm of the song while others try guess the name. (This should be slightly difficult to illustrate the point.)


Scripture Study

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

In the previous chapters Paul has just finished an explanation of spiritual gifts, but wants the readers to understand that the gifts must be used with love rather than for glorifying or bringing attention to themselves.

The first gift Paul mentions is speaking in languages or tongues of men and angels. What does the gift look like in the lives of Christians today? (Wait for answers, then continue.)


Speaking in the tongues of men may refer to those who are gifted speakers who can use eloquent words. Whether in personal conversations or before a crowd, God has given some Christians the ability to speak exceptionally well, especially when sharing about Jesus.


Christians explain speaking in the tongue of angels in different ways. For some Christians this means speaking in tongues, as the disciples did when the Holy Spirit first came upon believers. Others call this an unknown tongue or prayer language. (Discuss your family’s beliefs on speaking in tongues.)


Without love, the best speaker is like a clanging symbol or noisy gong. It’s just a lot of noise. When we tried to play a song without notes, it was hard to recognize. We might have eventually gotten the meaning from the rhythms, but it was meant to have a memorable tune. So speaking without love will not really convey the message we are trying to share.


In the next verse, Paul writes about the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, and faith. What do these gifts look like in the lives of Christians today? (Wait for answers, then continue.)


We think of prophecy as telling the future, which was often true in Biblical times, but it also refers to preaching God’s Word both then and today. The gift of knowledge is the supernatural ability to understand things that are a mystery to other, especially the things of God. God has given some pastors and teachers today the ability to understand and explain important spiritual teachings or theology. Other Christians have the ability to give godly counsel or advice using the wisdom and knowledge from Scripture. Those with faith more readily believe God for the impossible. Maybe you know people who are called prayer warriors because of their faith and faithfulness in prayer.


Without love, what are Christians who have the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, and faith? (Wait for answer.) NOTHING. No matter how good we look on the outside, we are nothing if we don’t have love.


In the last verse, Paul writes about the gift of giving and self-sacrifice. How do we see these gifts used today? (Wait for responses.) We have many chances to give to others. Whether it’s collecting canned goods for the local food pantry or helping a neighbor in need, giving makes us and others feel good. Some Christians, like missionaries and Christians in other countries, give their very lives for the gospel. They surrender their bodies to a life without modern comforts and sometimes even death.


What good does it do us to give our possession or even our lives without love? (Allow time to respond.) It profits us nothing. Zilch. Nada.


When you serve without love, the person you are serving is helped, but your service is so much more effective when they can see the love of Christ through you. And when serving with love, YOU receive eternal rewards as well.


Family Affirmation and Application

Think of a gift or talent God has given each family member and put it in the place of the gifts used in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3. For example: Zoe can sing and play the guitar well in church, but without love it is just noise. Sawyer can make really creative Lego creations, but if he doesn’t love, it is for nothing.


Either a parent can say one statement for all of the children, or let each child say one about him or herself or a sibling or parent.


Worship in Song

If time permits, listen to one of the following songs. Put them on the television for family member to see the lyrics if possible.



Prayer

Father, thank you for the many gifts you have given our family. We are blessed in so many ways. Please help us to use each of our talents with love so that it may bless ourselves and others. Let us make showing love more important than being thanked or recognized for what we do. We love because you first loved us. Thank you for your love, especially for your love in sending Jesus to save us. In Jesus name, amen.


More Valentine’s Devotions for Families

Thank you for joining me for Valentine’s Devotions for Families. I am sharing this with my children and youth group because I want them to remember the importance of living a life of love. I hope it helps your loved ones remember as well.


Please let us know, by clicking here, if your family benefited from these Valentine’s Devotions for Families, or if you have other ideas you would like to share. We would love to hear from you!


To continue with Seven Days of Valentine’s Devotions for Families, click on the links below.


Day Two: Love Is . . .

Day Three: How He Loves

Day Four: Love God

Day Five: Love Others

Day Six: Love Yourself

Day Seven: True Love

4 Ways to Honor God on Valentine's Day

February 1, 2021 by Tara Ziegmont

With Valentine's Day, coming up, it's a great opportunity to teach your kids that God should be our #1 love!


I love loving the people who are special to me.


I love all things sweet and sappy and sentimental. I love red puffy hearts and pink shiny bows and glittery Valentine cards. I love heart-shaped pancakes in the morning, heart-shaped sandwiches at lunch and heart-shaped pizzas for dinner. I love presents covered in heart wrapping paper and red heart-shaped chocolates.


I love all the tangible and intangible ways I can show my kids and my husband my unending and unconditional love for them.


Valentine’s Day is a holiday created with me in mind.


However…


It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the sweet celebration of love for each other that we forget where all this love really came from.


We love each other because He first loved us. — 1 John 4:19


Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just about us. If we are as intentional about loving Him as we are about loving each other, the whole day can still bring glory to the Creator.


Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. — James 1:17


4 Ways to Honor God On Valentine’s Day


1. Make a list of the ways He has shown His love for you. The book An “I Love You” Prayer is a perfect starter for this activity, whether you do it by yourself or with your kids. Go broad – see God’s love for you through the bird singing outside your window or the kitty purring in your bed. See His love through the little arms hugging your neck and the heat in your home on a cold morning. Doing this with your kids would be especially sweet (at least it would be for me) because you could learn the good and perfect things they see in the world. You could simply make lists on notebook paper. Or you could make hearts and hang them on a piece of poster board. Or each member of your family could write their list on a separate piece of colored paper or on a large paper or poster with a different color marker (think pinks, purples, reds, and silver).


2. Do good in the world. One year I shared in a blog a list of 13 ways that kids can do good. Every single one would be perfect for Valentine’s Day because you’re sharing God’s love with those in need. This is my very favorite Bible verse:


Never walk away from someone who needs help; for you may be the hand of God to that person. — Proverbs 3:27 (from The Message)


Be His hands and share His love with someone else.


3. Read God’s Love for You Storybook together. Better yet, copy passages from it and tuck them into places where strangers will find them. In my church, the youth group goes on ATLs. That’s short for Ask the Lord. They begin by praying together. Then they get into a car and drive wherever they feel led. They stop wherever they feel led to stop, and they do something. Sometimes, they knock on a door and ask to pray with someone. Sometimes, they help people the do a task. I’ve even heard of them stopping strangers on the street and asking if they can pray with them. Do your own mini ATL by asking the Lord where you should leave your little love notes. Maybe one should go in between two boxes on a grocery store shelf, in the cover of a magazine in a waiting room, or on a public bulletin board. Let Him lead you to leave blessings for someone to find by divine appointment. (Can’t get the book in time? Copy Bible verses on notecards and do the same thing.)


4. Love each other. Love is a verb. Love your loved ones. Call your parents and in-laws. Go out of your way to serve your children and celebrate them today. Do something special for your spouse. You don’t have to go all out like I do, but let your family see the love of Jesus reflected through you.


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. — John 13:34


* * *


Your Turn

God’s love is always all around us, but it’s especially important to share it on Valentine’s Day. What tangible ways do you share God’s love with others around you? Click here to let us know!



Featured Products


An "I Love You" Prayer board book (ages 2-5): click here

God's Love for You Bible Storybook (ages 4-8): click here