A Connected Family Testimonial

Sarah's Family

If you have been reading about some of the exciting changes here at Connected Families, you will know about our new tagline.  Our mission is to help families find “peace and connection at home.” Sarah Donatella, mom of two, took the Connected Families Siblings Conflict online course, and told us about how she was able to teach her children to reconcile with each other through using techniques she learned.  We just had to share her story with you.


“I still get choked up at the image of my son and daughter beaming with their little hands clasped, so excited that they were like “THIS” again! What a gift to see them rejoice in reconciliation and for my daughter to feel the freedom of being forgiven!” -Sarah

Connected Families:  Sarah, will you share with us about your experience with the online courses you took through Connected Families?

Sarah:  We did the DTC online course (as well as reading the book and going to a seminar) so we have been practicing and making progress on a lot of the principles. When we started the Sibling Conflict course, in the 2nd week, the homework was to think of something that would help resolve conflict more calmly.

Connected Families:  How did you apply what you learned in the course?

Sarah:  Because our kids are so young, we had to adapt some of the principles since they can’t resolve things the same way two elementary aged kids can.  One thing that my daughter struggled with was getting really worked up emotionally. It may not even be in conflict moments, but moments of disappointment, frustration, etc. So, for our homework that second week we decided we needed to be more intentional about making sure she knew that she could ask for space to calm down – any time she feels big emotions. And to talk about it at a time that was not emotionally charged so she had a game plan for the times that her emotions are too big to think. It is still a work in progress as she sometimes just asks for space when we ask her to do something she doesn’t want to do. So there’s still some fine tuning of the skill to be done – space isn’t an excuse to disobey, but a tool to help her calm down. But overall, it’s been very helpful. She even told Caleb one time when he was really worked up that “Sometimes when I can’t stop crying I go to the play room or Dad and Mom’s room and hug a stuffed animal to calm down. You could try that!” It was so sweet.
“Thank you to everyone at Connected Families for your ministry and blessing in our family! Even though we have had to tuck many tips away for when our kids are a bit older, we have talked about how glad we are that we came across your ministry so early in our parenting journey! I would much rather lay a solid foundation as much as we can than have to tear down bad habits and rebuild. Connected Families is a GIFT!!! THANK YOU!!!”-Sarah

To read more stories like Sarah’s click here.

How to Respond to Sibling Conflict (Video link)

Kids fight. Sibling conflict is a reality in just about every family. It is hard to know how to parent with wisdom and confidence in the middle of a battle over who has the most space in the backseat or who got the bigger piece of cake.  These kinds of fights seem to happen every day and wear parents out the most because they seem to ramp up so quickly.  Suddenly, the fight is no longer about the seat space or the cake but about bigger issues–like selfishness or your child’s character.  Things can get out of hand pretty quickly and it is hard to know how to respond to conflict in a way that promotes growth and peace instead of hurt and anger.  Many parents feel stuck in defeating patterns when their kids are fighting.  Perhaps it is time to think about new ways to help with sibling conflict.  

We’ve been there, and Connected Families developed this 4-level framework to help parents rethink about sibling conflict from a place of wisdom and confidence.

Take a look at this 5-minute video which teaches about a helpful approach to look at the ways that conflict can be an opportunity to build wisdom.

Some highlights from the video:

  • Attempts at solving behavior problems, like sibling conflict, by implementing a formula of “Apologize, go to your room, and don’t come out until you are ready to be nice,” often are counterproductive.
  • It is not enough just to hold kids accountable, we discovered, if we wanted our children to change.
  • We learned to change our perspective about misbehavior and begin to think of things like conflict as an opportunity to build long-term skills and wisdom in our kids.
  • We began to realize that our homes and our families needed to have connection in order to thrive.
  • In order successfully create peace and connection at home, as parents, we needed to spend some time thinking about how we could build skills and wisdom in our own lives.

Sibling Conflict Online Course is now in session. Register today! (Registration closes August 22, 2016)

Book Review

Dad, Here's What I Really Need From You by Michelle Watson

At Connected Families, we are always discussing, learning and reading about effective and wise parenting. Both Jim Jackson (co-founder of Connected Families and dad to 26 year old Bethany) and Grant Braasch (husband of our Executive Director and dad to 9 year old Almaz) recently read Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You by Michelle Watson and they had this to say:

unnamedGrant Braasch:  I think this is a really good book for dads who want to take a proactive approach to building a strong relationship with their young daughters or to help mend broken relationships with their teen or young adult daughters.  The author acknowledges that the target audience for this book is fathers who are struggling to relate with their teen or early adult daughters.  However, why wait until cracks in the relationship have formed to try to fix things when you can use the practical advice provided in the book to help prevent things from getting to that strained place?  The book provides lots of great tips on how to better listen and relate to our daughters – and an added bonus is that most of the advice can also apply to our relationships with our wives. – Grant Braasch, dad to Almaz (9) and Alex (11)

Jim & BethanyJim Jackson:  I loved this book! It’s filled with both inspiration to be a “dialed in” dad, and lot’s of practical advice. The appendix about good questions you can openly ask your daughter is worth the price of the book! My daughter is 26, and we have a great relationship. But this book will make it even better!



The subtitle of this book is “A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart.”
Check out all of the resources Connected Families recommends here.
Have a book, blog, or podcast you’d like us to review? Let us know about it here


Advice for Dads

3 Things My Father Wished He Knew

Dear Dads,

We are a big deal.   Our kids look up to us in a unique way. They need our affirmation and approval. Statistics show that kids who get a father’s love tend to soar well into the world, and those who don’t tend to struggle. Consider that. Perhaps this is why the Bible speaks so specifically to fathers. (see Col. 3:21, Ephesians 6:4, Prov. 20:7)


My own dad had no idea what a big deal he was. He thought our mom was the cat’s pajamas when it came to parenting (and she was pretty awesome), so he left her to take care of most of the affirmation and approval stuff. He did typical dad things: we fished, golfed, watched football and laughed together some. Yet, Dad wasn’t one to put constructive words to his feelings. His silence left me wondering.  Even though he loved and cared for me deeply, I came to believe that in Dad’s eyes I was a disappointment; that he didn’t love me. I made a lot of destructive choices in my teen years perhaps because I was looking for a reassurance of my father’s love.

A Connected Family Testimonial

Justin Long

unnamedConnected Families exists to encourage and support parents with uncommon grace and truth.  We feature testimonials from moms and dads about how Connected Families has helped them in their parenting journey.  We’d love to hear from you! Do you have a Connected Families story you’d like to share with us?  Submit your testimonial here!

Chad Hayenga, CF parenting coach, talked with Justin Long about how his family has benefited from Connected Families.

Chad:  How has Connected Families been a support to your family?

Justin:  Connected Families and Discipline that Connects has helped our family in many ways.  One way that CF has helped me be a better dad is that Katherine and I have had conversations about the messages we want to send our girls.  We have a plan:  in stressful, frustrating moments when it would be easy to be angry and hurtful toward our daughters; we will instead provide helpful messages.

Chad:  What is something you have learned that changed the way you parent?

Justin: I have learned my child is not my report card.  This message has helped me be a better dad because I focus less on what others are thinking about me and focus more on helping my girls in difficult situations.  

To read more stories like Justin’s, click here.

Announcing our new tagline!

Big changes at Connected Families.

Hey friends,

We’re excited to introduce our new tagline to those of you who helped form it. With your fantastic suggestions regarding the value you find through Connected Families, we condensed and interpreted what you told us.  Here it is:

Connected Families
Your guide to peace and connection at home.

We LOVE the themes you identified because they resonate so well with our vision. The four key words each have special meaning to us, and we thought you’d like the significance of your cumulative choice. The words:

Guide – We count it a privilege to share with you our experience with thousands of families over the years. We’ve paid close attention and learned from our own struggles and from many different parents. We continue to learn about the unique ways God’s timeless truths work from parent to parent.  We don’t just teach theories, we want to walk with you through the challenges of parenting as guides who have personal and professional experience.

Peace – Kids long to know that their parents are calm, reliable shelters in the storms of growing up. For parents, maintaining peace in their families is not dependant on circumstances alone, but on the peace of God that transcends understanding in Christ Jesus. Parents who cultivate peace through growing in their relationship with God are models of true and authentic faith their children can rely on.

Connection – A connected family is defined by the following: 1)  joyfully connected with each other, 2.) connected in life-giving relationship with God, 3.) and connected by reaching out together to a world in need. When kids grow up well-connected, they grow up confident in who they are and why they’re here.

Home –  Home is the place your kids will come to understand what it means to be human, to follow Jesus, and to be a part of the Church. When God’s grace, peace and truth are alive in your home, even in the messes of daily life, God is honored in the midst of your family.

Whether Connected Families has been guiding your parenting journey for weeks or for years, YOU are part of the story. Over the next several months you’ll see several changes in the look and feel of our website, the emails you receive from us, additional product offerings and more. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback!

Most importantly, we want to hear your story!  How did you hear about Connected Families?  How have we been helpful for you in your parenting journey?  Tell us a little bit about your family. Share your story here, and we may use your story to spread the word about Connected Families.  We believe that every family should have the chance to thrive.  Your words may be the encouragement someone needs to hear.  Thank you for your support of this ministry.  

Jim and Lynne Jackson

An Open Letter to the Cincinnati Zoo Mom

cincinnati zoo gorilla child momDear Cincinnati mom,

You. Your son. An encounter with a gorilla at the zoo. These things have made you an unsuspecting internet sensation. We don’t know you. But, we do know that parenting is hard enough without the world scrutinizing your every move.

We are guessing, of course, but we’re pretty sure you love your kids with ferocious love. You want what’s best for them, and you are their protector.

You had a lapse, like most parents do, but had you any notion that in that fleeting moment your son could defy the apparent safety of the zoo’s barrier, you’d have kept his hand in yours and assured his safety.

How could you know or ever realize that between your kids and the gorilla was a flawed barrier, or that your child could breach it? He must be an extremely observant and determined young man – the kind of youngster that can take the world by storm!

We once had a child like him. Our son is grown now, but twice he scared the liver out of us. Dubbed “Little Tornado” by his grandpa, he was constantly on the move. Exploring. Discovering. And sometimes disappearing. We covered the ledge near our kitchen table with chicken wire to protect him from crawling onto the table, over the ledge and down a staircase. After each meal we strapped the kitchen chairs to the table so that as a two-year-old he couldn’t pull the chairs over to the counter tops and climb the cabinets. And, as some have suggested in response to the Cincinnati zoo incident, we even used a leash sometimes so he wouldn’t vanish when we were out in public.

3 Secrets to Grow from Screen Time Madness to Gladness This Summer

Are you feeling a little fear and trepidation about your kids’ free time this summer and the issues it brings? Maybe a little worry about the seemingly inevitable clashes over technology and screen use?

Brenda is a mom of three who follows our teaching closely. She shared this great story about how she dealt with technology obsession with the kids in her home.

Two summers ago we had such conflicts over screen time in our home it drove me crazy. My kids were determined to get their hands on some manner of glowing device – no matter what. I was equally determined they not rot their young brains with it, and the battle was on. So last summer I tried something bold. I told the kids there were no specific technology time limits for the summer. (Could that really work?!) You may even have a knot in your stomach reading about such a reckless plan. But it did indeed work incredibly well, and it’s our plan again this summer!

What were the secrets that made for such an amazing turn-around in this family’s screen time power-struggles using such a counter-intuitive approach? They are listed here in order of increasing importance:

4 Sure-Fire Tips for Parents to Survive the Summer

family summer sanity connection

It’s summer again, and you know what that means: a totally different rhythm to schedules and family time, with lots of time for connection… and conflict.

There are long, glorious days ahead: sunshine, free time and the slower pace of summer means that you can create lasting family memories. It also means more time for tempers to flare–yours and your kids’!–when our expectations for a great memory-worthy summer don’t happen the way we imagined. We don’t want you to feel like you are just biding your time until school returns. You can make the most of your family time this summer, and make it the best summer yet with grace and connection.

We thought we’d help you kick off your summer by re-sharing one of our favorite summer posts — 4 tips to help you retain your parenting sanity this summer.

Final tagline vote! We need your help!

cf tagline demo

Dear Friends,

Recently, we sent an email with seven options for our new tagline. There was a clear winner out of those seven, but we also received some other fantastic suggestions. Using your input, we’ve refined and narrowed it down to four excellent options. We are seeking your help once more in selecting the final tagline.

We asked you to imagine yourself googling “how to be a good parent” or “how to discipline my kid” or “Christian parenting strategies” and seeing a tagline jump out at you. Which one is it?

  • Practical, Purposeful and Peaceful Parenting
  • Purposeful, Peaceful Parenting
  • Restoring Peace and Connection at Home
  • Your Guide to Confident, Peaceful Parenting

Click here to vote!

We’ll keep the survey open until Thursday morning and then announce the new tagline that day on Facebook.

Thanks for your input and continued encouragement!

Blessings as you grow a connected family,
Jim Jackson
President and Co-Founder