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.

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.

3 Game-Changing Questions to Show Your Kids They’re Worth It


It can be hard work to grow as a parent.
Especially when no matter how hard you try, things can still go haywire. Old patterns die hard, and it’s normal to fall into the default of huffing and puffing to get your own sense of control. But don’t lose heart! Here’s a simple strategy to keep learning and growing, and to help your child do the same – even when things blow up.

Positive growth can start by settling down, and remembering God’s grace for you. When the tension is high, take a break to let you and your child calm down. In that space, take some deep breaths, and remember that we’re all under grace. Then, go to your child with these three questions:

Can We Get Kids to Say “Sorry” Like They Mean It?

When kids fight, parents typically try to resolve things by telling the kids they have to say they’re sorry.

While parents may be aware that this can be a very shallow, “go through the motions” sort of consequence for kids, they may also struggle to know what to do instead — “How else will my kids know that they should say they’re sorry?”

We can’t make our kids give a heartfelt apology. But we’ve found that not only can kids learn the importance of apologizing and reconciling from the heart, but they can even learn to the point where they value reconciliation enough to mend broken relationships themselves!

In this short 3 minute video, Lynne shares a helpful illustration to explain conflict resolution to kids, and some practical tips for teaching and modeling reconciliation in your home.


Take 15 minutes to learn how to give consequences that teach, rather than simply punish, by downloading our free ebook Consequences That Actually Work.

The Surprising Power of No, Yes, and Why

When our kids do something they’re not supposed to, or ask us for something they can’t have, often our reflexive response is a simple, quick, “No!” And our kids’ reflexive response to “no” can be frustration, resentment, or even a meltdown.

But a look at the Bible gives us another way to respond to our kids — one that still enforces boundaries, but helps kids to grow in wisdom even through the “no”.

Why “It Is NOT OK to Talk That Way!” Doesn’t Work

Not Okay to Talk that Way (1)

There are many ways in which parents intentionally or unintentionally model positive character qualities: self-control, caring, diligence, faithfulness, etc.

But we can also model negative character qualities, especially when we’re not thoughtful!

When our eldest son Daniel and I got into power struggles, I was keenly aware of how disrespectful he was! But I was usually oblivious to my own angry, shaming words and tone.

With a scowl, pointed finger, and strong tone I would grandly announce,

                                “It is NOT OK to talk like that!”

My condescending proclamations were an attempt to feel in charge, but did nothing to calm the conflict.

What to Do When Kids Go Crazy? Do a Do-Over!

“I call the window seat!”

“Nu-uhhh, it’s MY turn!”

“No way!”

“OW! Mom, she hit me!”

Sometimes it can seem like the simplest interactions are the ones that explode out of nowhere. Getting out the door to school, getting in the car to go somewhere, getting ready for bed — when it comes to transition time, you can just feel your blood pressure begin to rise.

3 Game-Changing Questions to Show Your Kids They’re Worth It

It can be hard work to change the way you parent. Especially when your efforts to stay calm lead to more pushback from your kids.

Along the way it’s normal to fall into the old habit of huffing and puffing to get your own sense of control. Don’t lose heart! When this happens, let the dust settle for you and your child, and then ask your kids the following powerful questions:

Stressful Times Lead to Fertile Hearts

Painting pictures in my mind has been very helpful in my parenting journey. For example, when I’m upset and feel like my head is going to explode I imagine a balloon in my lungs filling and releasing air. When my kids are upset and I remain calm, I visualize myself “loaning” my calm to them as a blanket to cover them during their emotional storm.

A word-picture God gave me recently is appropriate for the spring weather we’ve been having: when my kids are upset, tense, frustrated, angry — really any negative emotion — I picture a tiny rototiller tilling up the soil of their hearts.