Fridge Spirituality

My refrigerator is covered in activity schedules, a recycling calendar, family photos, and children’s art. Anyone walking into our kitchen would get a pretty good picture of what interests us and how we spend our days. Over time, they would also see how our commitments (and art skills) develop and change.

The family fridge is often a repository of important family materials. Everyone checks the door to see what’s happening and where they need to be. It even showcases children’s perspectives on life through their drawings. Given the frequency of views, it’s also a terrific place to post reminders of a family’s spiritual values.

Rutgers psychology professor Maurice Elias studies how the items on classroom walls shape children’s social emotional learning. He refers to such ‘decorations’ as CAT scan images that reveal a community’s soul. Similarly, creating and posting intentional spiritual messages at home can help children learn and remember core family beliefs and commitments.

One possible item to display is a family pledge poster. Sit down together and name what you believe about personal and family responsibility, then write a short pledge that each person can repeat daily. It might be as simple as Today is a gift and I will use it to make a difference in the world or I am able to choose good, and today I choose to be kind and help others. The pledge could also represent a social commitment: I pledge to take care of the earth and do something that fights climate change today or I believe in equality and will treat all people with respect, listening carefully and encouraging them to be themselves.

Parents and caregivers can also post statements that reflect their positive beliefs about and commitments to children. These might include things like Your ideas matter, You will reach your dreams, and I believe in you, as well as I will support you, I am ready to listen, and You can count on me to help. Keep your proclamations short and to the point and put them all on a single poster or scatter several smaller posters around the house.

Children benefit from reminders about positive problem-solving strategies as well. Design a poster together that offers a step-by-step approach children can easily follow. You might suggest that kids identify a set of questions they can answer, such as “What is the problem?” “What solutions can I think of?” and “How fair is this idea?” With children prone to risky behavior, add “How safe is this solution?”

Another area to cover are tips on building and maintaining positive relationships. Hold a family brainstorming session on the topic of ‘terrific ways to treat others’ or ‘friendship qualities’. Then turn your ideas into a ‘Top 10’ list and add drawings or a colorful border to jazz up your poster. You might even arrange your ideas as an acrostic, using the letters from the word ‘friends’ to create a powerful 7-line reminder of what kids can do to relate well.



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