When Molly Moxness was in preschool, her teachers gave each child in her class a turn as Star of the Week—an honor that conferred a few modest privileges and a major dose of attention. "The kids just lit up and the glow would last for days," Molly's mom, Deborah, recalls. "So
I decided to try it out with our family." Eight years later the ritual is still going strong in the Moxnesses' Thousand Oaks, California, home. Whenever a family member is going through a rough patch or achieves a personal first, Friday evening is star time.
Deborah shops with the honoree for a favorite dinner, which is served by candlelight on the good china. Everyone talks about what they love about the star, who then chooses the night's entertainment (usually a board game or a special movie). "If someone has had a hard week, this really turns them around," Deborah says. And because the ceremony also rewards courage and initiative (making an all-star team, signing up for driver's training, reaching a career goal), it spurs all of them to get out of their ruts.
When she launched the tradition, Deborah chose the star. Now the kids like to nominate each other—or one of their parents. "It's wonderful to see them developing empathy," Deborah says. "They get to hear how special they are when they most need it, and they've learned to look out for each other, too."
Pictured above: Enjoying a walk together are Michael Moxness, Deborah Echt-Moxness and their children, Molly, 12, and Aaron, 15.