Spending a Few Moments before Bedtime to Share the Joys and Worries of the Day
There’s something about the end of the day that lends itself to ritual. Maybe our minds harbor collective memories of the primal dangers of the night. Or perhaps it’s because each goodnight kiss foreshadows that final farewell we all, inevitably, must face. Whatever the reason, there seems to be a deep human need to bring some sort of order to the end of each day. Bedtime rituals do just that. And as with any ritual, it’s relatively easy to add a few elements that tie together a family’s daily life with their Unitarian Universalist faith.
The list of benefits children receive when their parents read to them on a regular basis is almost as long as the benefits of sharing family meals (another of the seven tools). Storytime is a natural bonding experience that lets children know that they are an important part of their parents’ lives. It helps children become lifelong readers and paves the way for academic success. And perhaps most importantly for faith formation, it expands their horizons, exposes them to novel situations, and teaches them appropriate behavior. In recent years the Unitarian Universalist Association has developed a number of storytime resources for families to use. Congregations can help families by stocking their bookstall with storytime resources for the UUA.
While not every family will feel comfortable with the notion of bedtime prayers, taking the time to express one’s gratitude for life’s blessings and share one’s hopes for tomorrow is wonderful way to close the day. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways this can be done. In addition to the more traditional prayers addressed to a loving God or Goddess or Spirit, there are other more secular formulas that allow children to give thanks and acknowledge their love and care for family and friends. Either way, such moments are obvious opportunities to strengthen a family’s religious identity. Once again, the Unitarian Universalist Association has developed a number of resources for doing just that.
Bedtime, like dinnertime, offers the chance for parents and children to have caring conversations about what matters most in life. It can also be the perfect time to give children the opportunity to share the joys and worries of their day. And as with any conversation between parents and children, these moments may also provide occasions to reflect on a family’s Unitarian Universalist faith.
Resources for Bedtime Rituals
Visit the UUA Bookstore for a wide variety of books of stories for UU families to share at bedtime. Favorites include:
A Lamp in Every Corner: A Unitarian Universalist Storybook
Aisha’s Moonlit Walk: Stories and Celebrations For the Pagan Year
Hide-and-Seek With God: Second Edition
UU & Me!: Collected Stories
What If Nobody Forgave?: And Other Stories, Second Edition
From the UUA Bookstore:
A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers
Sunday and Every Day: My Little Book of Unitarian Universalism
From the UUWorld:
An excellent article by Meg Cox on New Family Traditions
An article from parenting.com offering “4 Tips for Making Bedtime Conversation a Ritual” that can easily be adapted to include UU themes.
UU World Family Pages provide a variety of stories and topics for conversation.