What’s in Your Child’s Backpack?

Your home is the nest from which your children learn to fly. First they take short little flights—to a friend’s house and back again, to school and back again. Then the flights get longer—to college and back again or to travel and come back again. Then they build their own nests and only come to visit.

Our kids are 23, 20, and 17. Betsy has her own nest, Britta is temporarily nested at college, and Jack is stretching his wings for upcoming flights.

What will they take with them? Some memories, some habits, some values, some ideas about life, some type of self concept, some concept of God. There is a lot we’d like to send with them, but only so much fits in their backpacks.

One thing my kids take with them is the journal I’ve kept for them documenting the best moments of their childhood, telling them specific positive things I observed in their lives and in their character, letting them know how much they are loved.

This weekend I got a letter that made me smile. It was from Britta, who’s a junior in college. She’s a resident assistant in a freshman/sophomore dorm and just loves spending time with the 56 girls on her floor.

Here’s a quote from her letter: “I was at lunch with a sophomore on my floor, and I was telling her about the importance of allowing ourselves to be affirmed by God. As an example of how powerful it is, I told her about the book you wrote, and how it encouraged me in my growth. She looked at me in all earnestness and said, ‘WOW, Your MOM DID THAT FOR YOU!?’ It reminded me again how blessed I am.”

And Britta’s letter reminded me of the marvelous opportunity we have as parents to be the ones to equip our kids by sending them off with tangible evidence of our love in their backpacks.

I’d love to hear how your kids respond to your journaling for them or writing them love letters.

written by

I am a Christian thinker, reader, and writer, who never travels without chocolate. See the “About” page for details.
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7 Responses to "What’s in Your Child’s Backpack?"

  1. Teri Hyrkas says:

    I didn’t journal for my kids as I have for my grandchildren, but I did write notes to them from time to time. One such note was written to my son, Rob, after he had participated in a Bantam level hockey game in which he did not play well. He was in 7th grade, and after that game he felt that he might not have what it takes to be a solid athlete in his favorite sport. He was disappointed in himself and discouraged with his performance. That night I wrote a little note to him on a 2×4″ slip of paper that had a star in one corner. It said, “Scientists have observed that even the brightest stars in the galaxy have times when they don’t shine their brightest. Don’t be discouraged by this one game – you will shine brightly again soon. Love, Mom.”
    Years later, when I was helping Rob pack his belongings for college, I saw this slip of paper in his collection of ‘special things’. I had no idea it meant so much to him, but it made it quite clear how much our children draw strength from their parents’ encouragement.

  2. Shannon says:

    Thanks for this reminder and for all the wonderful word pictures. I have to confessed that I’ve been “stalled out” in my journalling to my kids- perhaps because they are usually messing up the nest right now.
    Your post was a gentle reminder that this phase will pass and the effort will be well worthwhile.
    Perhaps you and your daughter should speak together on the topic of journalling!

    • Tracey says:

      Thanks, Shannon. Daily life is one distraction after another, isn’t it? It’s hard work to be intentional about the way we spend our time. Maybe today one of your kids will do something or say something noteworthy:)
      I’d love to speak with my daughter (or both daughters) about journaling. Great idea!

  3. Vishal Mangalwadi says:

    Your “pen” has powerfully blessed not just your children but also your friends – me! “My ” book that you helped create has 100 reviews on http://www.Amazon.com. Thank you

  4. Ruth Mangalwadi says:

    Tracey what insights you have.
    Loved reading this blog
    Look forward to reading the previous ones soon!


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