Celebrating an eighth birthday means a child has finally reached the point when he or she can choose to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s a special day for kids and parents alike, but parents know that the event often means they have to don several extra hats: party planner, host and caterer to the masses of family members and friends who come to support, babysitter, chauffeur, financial backer, and (if there’s time) spiritual counselor to the child.
How can we help our kids understand the importance of the covenants they are making, even during the busyness of the day? Here are 5 tips to help make your eight-year-old’s baptism more meaningful:
Before the Baptism
1. Create a Memory Snapshot
Prior to the day of the baptism, you and your child can work together to record information about him or her (favorite memories, thoughts about church, interests, current friends, testimony, and so on). You can also leave a section for the child to fill out later about his or her feelings during the baptism.
Be creative about recording this information. You can save the child’s artwork, record his or her testimony on video, or just write it all down.
2. Ask Family Members to Write Their Testimonies
Your child might not appreciate this on the day of his or her baptism, but it will become a valuable resource in the days, weeks, and years following the event. A month before the baptism, ask family members to email or mail you a written record of their beliefs. Compile them and present them to the child on the day of his or her baptism.
On the Day of the Baptism
3. Give Gifts
Many families choose to give their eight-year-olds a special gift on the day of a baptism. These gifts might include a nice set of scriptures or other instructive books like The Holy Ghost is Like a Blanket to help the child understand the blessings and responsibilities that come with baptism.
4. Crowdsource the Photos
Visual reminders of the event will be important to your eight-year-old. Being able to see what everything looked like on that day will help him or her remember any feelings had during the baptism. Avoid taking photos of the actual baptism, but encourage family members to take photos before and after it. Check out apps and online services like Dropbox or Google+ for instant photo sharing.
After the Baptism
5. Explain the Sacrament to Your Child
Taking the sacrament each week is meant to be a reminder and renewal of baptismal covenants. Read through the sacrament prayers with your child before the next Sunday (D&C 20:77, 79). Explain to your child how those prayers relate to the covenants made in baptism. Doing this in the week following the baptism will help make the connection between baptism and the sacrament more clear to your child.
So when you start to feel like you might be balancing one too many jobs as you prepare for a baptism, try out a few of these tips. They can help you keep your cool and enjoy the day as much as your child will.