Old vs. New, Don’t vs. Do

How the birth of Jesus breathes new life into parenting

Do you have a bunch of rules for your kids? No hitting. No whining. No screens before homework is done. No messes in the living room. Having rules provides structure, and some basic ones are essential.

When your kids struggle with obeying the rules, do you ever try to regain control by making more rules or making the penalties for breaking them harsher? And even though your intentions may be good, do your kids get more resentful and rebellious? We’ve often heard parents say things like, “It doesn’t matter what I take away; this kid is just defiant!”

Building Wisdom When Kids Want Gifts…and More Gifts

Parents love giving their kids good gifts. And kids love receiving them! As you’ll learn in our upcoming Entitlement Online Course, the gift-giving experience can be an exciting dopamine burst (our body’s reward/pleasure chemical) for everyone! It can be fun at first, but over time the joy can quickly give way to a sense of entitlement.

Add to the mix a highly sophisticated advertising industry aimed at shaping the values of kids in order to influence their buying habits. One study reported that children under 14 influenced as much as 47% of American household spending. It is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to reach the youth market and that children view more than 40,000 commercials each year. These figures represent dramatic increases over those from the 1970sThey communicate a subtle and troubling message: “You need this toy (or food) to be happy.” These advertisers gauge not only how to shape your kids’ buying habits, but their identity: “You’re the coolest when you have our product!”  

Family Gatherings

Who's in Charge?

Large family holiday gatherings can be tough for lots of reasons. Over-stimulated, over-sugared,  over-excited and under-slept kids are simply going to struggle. But there may also be some relational dynamics that complicate things when you all get together. See if you relate to this pattern:

  1. You feel anxious around the watchful, possibly critical eye of parents or other relatives.
  2. You work harder to keep kids in line and are tougher on them than usual.
  3. Your kids (who are already extra stressed) sense your angst and act up more.
  4. Gramma or Grampa (or others) intervene to keep youngsters in line, with good intentions but unhelpful strategies.
  5. You feel embarrassed, undermined, and maybe frustrated or resentful.
  6. Kids watch the power struggle between the adults and are left feeling more stressed and insecure than ever.
  7. Repeat.

Is the holiday stew smelling rotten yet? If so, this post is for you.

Questions to Put the THANKS Back in Thanksgiving

“So, kids, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?” you ask.

“My family, my house, my friends, my dog and Jesus.” (Same answers as last year….)

If you think your kids might be open to some deeper thinking this year, we’ve provided a handful of conversation starters about gratitude. We invite you try any or all of them and put a little bigger dose of gratitude in your Thanksgiving season:  

God

  • 1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
  • What is something specific about God or a verse from the Bible that you are thankful for?

Creation

  • Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities…
  • What is your favorite part of God’s creation and what does it tell you about God?

Possessions

  • 1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
  • Nearly 1/2 of the people in the world today live on less than $2.50 a day. $2.50 a day per person is barely enough for a one or two room house and simple food like rice and beans. Many of those people don’t have a home or enough to eat.
  • We are blessed with many things. What food or object around the house is very special or meaningful for you that you are thankful for? Why is it special, or how does it bless you?
  • James 1:7  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
  • Is there something in our home that might seem like a “good gift” but could actually be harmful to us? (i.e. excessive luxuries, things that make us arrogant toward others, things we get really distracted by, etc.)

Our Bodies

  • Psalm 139:13,14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful…
  • What is something about the way your body works, or a physical ability you have, that you are thankful for? Has God used that ability to bless others?

Our Family

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage and build up one another…
  • What is something about our family that you really love and are thankful for?

Challenges

  • Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
  • What have you experienced recently (or this year) that was challenging or difficult that really helped you to grow? How would you complete this sentence: I’m glad I went through ___________ because ____________________.

Blessing Others

  • Ephesians 2:10
  • What is one way you bless others that you are thankful for? (i.e. I’m a good listener, I share toys well, I’m not afraid to talk to new people, etc). Parents can help kids identify these relational gifts with questions: “I noticed you _____________. What gift do you think you were using then? How were you blessed when you blessed that person?  That’s something to be thankful for!!”

Teaching gratitude in a day when kids expect a fast, fun, and easy life can be a considerable challenge. So be intentional. Keep the conversation alive throughout the holiday season and beyond. Research shows your kids will be happier. And they’ll thank you for it!


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Trash, Truth, Treasure

Helping kids turn anger into wisdom

When our child gets teased, battered and bullied by another child’s hurtful words, we parents are inclined to step in and fix it by saying things like, “Oh honey, that’s not true.” Or, “You don’t deserve that.” Or maybe we’ll criticize the aggressor (especially if that aggressor is an older sibling). Quick fix responses like this may settle things down in the short-term, but keep parents in the role of managing all the difficult emotions instead of empowering their kids. This article will teach you how to equip your kids to filter through what others say to them and respond wisely instead of cover their hurt feelings with anger.  

We’ve coached many parents how to equip their kids with wisdom to assess the value of what others say to them. You too can help your children learn to place the things others say to them in one of three categories: Trash, Truth and Treasure.

How I Helped My Baby Sleep Without a Sleep Method

Did you find this blog because you Googled, “How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” Well then, my friend, soak in this moment of knowing…this is NOT your magic bullet to deep nourishing sleep. At Connected Families, we don’t believe in quick fixes. We believe in lasting change. We believe in seeking the Holy Spirit, and the hard work that brings rich connection between parent and child.

If you have been following our work for a while, you are familiar with the Connected Families Framework. Over the last two years, while working behind the scenes I couldn’t help but memorize and internalize these four levels of parent/child connection. I assumed it would come in handy in my parenting journey, but I was not expecting to apply it so early!

To Unlock Your Child’s Heart, Just Ask for the Key!

If you are reading this, you probably want your kids to know how much you love them. And you probably tell them often that you do. But effectively communicating love is not always so simple. How can we be sure that what we mean as love is received as love? It can take insight, determination and creativity to communicate love messages in ways children can’t miss them.

What do I do when my child just says no?

Recently we received this question from Michelle:

I am struggling with a tween who often says no to my requests. She is a good girl most of the time, but she will be disrespectful to me, and I have no idea what appropriate/related consequences to give her when she tells me “no,” and then in essence dismisses me by looking back down at her book, ipod, etc.

I try to remain calm, but when I tell her this is a warning, and that she will have a consequence for not obeying, she will look at me and ask what it is. And normally say, “Oh well, no big deal,” and still not obey me. I also realize that hormones are playing a part in her behavior, but she cannot say no to me when I ask her to do something. HELP!!! Normally she will apologize later that night when we are praying together, but she still didn’t do whatever I asked.

Jim’s response:
It’s so great that after an encounter like that your daughter will apologize and pray with you. It shows that she respects you and feels remorse for what she’s done. This is actually rather uncommon, and you can feel grateful for this – even affirm it in your daughter.

Struggling with a disobedient child? We can help.

You’ve been hearing us talk about the Discipline That Connects Online Course for a few weeks. But do you still have questions? We’ve got answers!

What is the structure of the course?
There are six sessions that are pre-recorded and available to you on your schedule! You can start taking the course as soon as you register. This means that you can take it day or night and go through the course as fast as you want. The six sessions are streaming videos with reflection questions interspersed. We highly encourage course participants to leave comments throughout the course, but don’t require comments to move to the next session.

How long does each session take?
Each session takes between 45 and 75 minutes to complete. There are approximately 45 minutes of video for each session. The balance of the time is used for reflection and to answer questions. You can break it up to fit your schedule because it is always there for you!

Read our full list of FAQs here.

Read below from parents who have been challenged and encouraged in their parenting journey.

Why “Stop it!” Doesn’t Work

How to gain perspective and a plan

I’d HAD it! I was sick of this aggravating behavior, day after day. I stopped in my tracks, glared at the little one who was driving me crazy, and yelled at the top of my lungs, STOP IT!!

Do you relate to this? Has this happened in your home? It happened in ours.

But this wasn’t an incident from my early parenting of three crazy kids, it was this spring, and the little offender was a red winged black bird.

Seriously. I screamed at… a BIRD.