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by Tammy G. Bennett, CoParenting International

With less than a month until Christmas, I want to encourage you to give your children a “gift” that will be more meaningful than anything expensive and trendy. Consider giving the gift of positive memories. I looked up the meaning of “memorabilia” and came up with a few interesting notes from “A record of things worth remembering;” “Objects valued for their connection with historical events;” “Matters or events worthy to be remembered.”

Having grown up between multiple households, I know that I would have loved this opportunity! Instead of the other parent being a “forbidden” topic, it would have been wonderful to be able to talk about them freely, miss them openly and to have a photo of them near at bedtime. Because of that experience, early on in my own coparenting journey, I put a photo of my daughter and her father on the refrigerator – I intentionally placed in very low, at her eye level, so she could see if often. I also put a photo of her and her father in a frame in her bedroom. Approximately two years ago he took a photo with his extended family (her other grandmother, aunts, uncles, etc) and I put a copy of it in her bedroom as well. I wanted her to know it is OK to think about her daddy and that she is free to love him even when she is at my home.

Having just buried my 81-year old grandfather, George Gallegos, I am reminded of how incredibly valuable and irreplaceable photos are! They are a picture into the past, a moment relived with someone we love and only our memories and our photos can “replay” those special times. For children being raised between two households, photos can be an amazing “gift” that allow them to celebrate both parents and the extended families that are connected to those parents. Although this might be difficult, I would encourage every parent to at least consider putting one photo of your child(ren) and their other parent in their room at least; if the refrigerator is too visible for your comfort, then choose their bedroom as a special place to post a photo or even a corkboard of various photos and memorabilia that represent the other parent and other family.

It is important to remember that although parents divorce each other, parents don’t divorce their children. If stability, wholeness and peace are your aim in coparenting your children, then this would be a wonderful gift to give!!

At one of our seminars recently we discussed this idea and a young mother came up at the end very excited. “Tammy! I am so grateful you mentioned that idea today! I would have never thought to do that—not that I wouldn’t do it, but I just would not have known to do it. Thank you so much for the creative idea! I am going to buy a frame on the way home from the seminar and put it up in my son’s room tonight!”

About a year ago my daughter asked for a photo of us that she could take to her daddy’s house so that when she misses me at bedtime she can have it there to see. I prepared a photo of us, in a clear and simple frame and her father was very positive and welcoming to the idea. I did not push it on him or even suggest it – when the request came from my daughter (and her father had seen the multiple photos in my home of the two of them) then he was very naturally responsive to encourage the process. So now she has a special photo at each household so she can feel free to celebrate both of us and to openly talk about missing us when we are apart….a gift we will give her for life!

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey Him and commit yourself to Him, for He is your life.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

This Christmas may your families be blessed and may God be extra close! I pray we will all choose LIFE and BLESSING so our children might LIVE!