Finding Sanity During Family Car Trips

5 Tips for Peace in the Back Seat


“Are we there yet?” “I have to go to the bathroom!” “I want a Happy Meal NOW!” “No, I want Taco Bell!!”

Ahh, the bliss of car-trip vacations. Whether our children are toddlers or teens, the stress of riding in the car together for extended periods can taint the whole vacation. Wouldn’t it be great if we could time-warp ourselves to our destinations? It’s appealing, but obviously not reality. The real-life temptation is simply to equip each child with a glowing device full of their favorite movies or games, and communicate the message… when it’s hard to get along, we just turn to screens to solve the problem. So let’s look at it differently, because a helpful insight for car rides or any other difficult parenting situation is: Every challenge holds a golden opportunity!

The challenge of car rides together is a great opportunity for connection, teamwork, and creative problem-solving.

Here are some practical, simple ideas:

4 Sure-Fire Tips for Parents to Survive the Summer

Tips to Survive Summer

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 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.

What to Do When Relatives Criticize Your Parenting

What to do When Relatives Criticize Your Parenting

Do you ever feel like your family is under the microscope at holiday gatherings?

Your lively kids – in unfamiliar places, without their usual toys – often reflect the stress all around them, which can mean they get loud, obnoxious, and argumentative. The icy stares or sidelong glances from relatives — especially your parents — can communicate, “That is soooo disrespectful, and clearly needs some firm discipline.”

You may even get some direct comments like, “Aren’t you going to deal with that?” or, “You really shouldn’t tolerate that disrespect!”

You know that you are learning more graceful, wisdom-building ways to parent and you want to stay the course, but you don’t know how to respond without sounding disrespectful to your parents. You may even second guess yourself and get harsh or firm in unnatural ways with your kids, just to avoid the criticism.

So what can you do?

Does Your Family Pray BIG Prayers?

Growing a Culture of Prayer (1)

As parents, and as Christians, many of us place great value on teaching our children to value prayer. But sometimes figuring out how to grow a culture of prayer can be difficult — especially if maintaining a strong prayer life is a challenge for us.

Here are six ideas we’ve used in our family to help move toward a culture of prayer as a family.

The Best Vacation Ever

Tom was worried about taking his family on a short mission trip to a South Dakota Indian reservation. He told me, “We’re really interested in this trip. We think it would be good for us and for our kids. But we’re a bit scared that our stressed family dynamics will be exposed in that setting. Our last family vacation was one drama after the other.”

A Prescription for Connection [video]

A pediatrician friend of ours once had parents bring in their child and request a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) so they could get a prescription. But our wise friend took a look beneath the surface to what was really going on. Hear the rest of the story in this short video clip.

Apply It Now:

  • Whether it’s 5 minutes or 5 hours, make a plan right now to spend some focused time with each child.
  • If you’re not sure how to connect with your kids, considering making your first parent-child “date” a discussion of ways you could connect!

Who Has the Time for This??

At a recent workshop, I talked about the importance of family meetings and gave some tips for when and how to have them.

Over the course of the workshop, I could see that a particular gentleman was completely engaged in the topic and that we had built some rapport based on his attentiveness, head nods (yeses, not sleeping!), and questions he asked.

At the end, he asked me a question in complete sincerity: “Family meetings sound great, but where could we possibly find the time to do them?”

Whoops, There’s Sex in Our Family Night Movie!

When our children were in elementary school, we chose to watch Tootsie with them. It’s a PG-rated movie from the early 80’s that I remembered as quite funny and appropriate for the kids (ages about 8-12) to watch. But I had forgotten about the scene where it’s strongly implied that Dustin Hoffman’s character has sex with one of his acting students.

What did Steve Jobs know about parenting that you don’t?

 

In a New York Times article, a journalist recalls how he once commented to Steve Jobs that his kids must love the iPod. Surprisingly Jobs replied bluntly, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” Jobs knew firsthand the potential dangers of technology.

But how did he avoid having a mutiny on his hands? His kids’ friends probably expected that anyone in the Jobs family would have the latest, greatest stuff, and that time at their house would be an electronic frolic from start to finish.

Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs, shares Jobs’ secret of firmly prioritizing thoughtful, engaging, real-life interaction with his kids:

Are You “Present” with Your Kids?

present parent connection

School is in session. Some of you have sent your kids back to school. Others have started your homeschool routines. Regardless of which paradigm you have for the best way to educate your kids, you most likely have an important underlying goal in your parenting: to connect well with your children and pass on your faith and values. So whether you’re spending all day teaching your kids or greeting them as you all return from work or school, if you want kids to stay connected to you, your faith and your values, you must be present.