Your kids are watching you. Constantly. All the subtle messages from the way you live life are being absorbed by their active little minds, even if neither you nor your child are aware of it. During the summer months, there are more chances for together time, as well as opportunities for you to show your kids the kinds of values you hope they will embrace. How you do vacations is no exception. Family vacations can be memorable and deepen relationships with one another. They can also be a wonderful opportunity to teach principles that will help your kids grow in wisdom. Before you plan your summer trip consider being thoughtful about the messages you are sending your child regarding how you vacation.
What is the purpose of your vacation?
In our hectic society, it is easy to either skip vacations because we can’t carve out the time, or collapse in an over-priced luxurious spot just to have rest and ready-made entertainment. But…
Life is fast these days. The hectic pace can be stressful, and sometimes parents and children alike can get impatient and maybe even snippy. This sure was true for us.
As parents of young kids, we often felt burdened by the logistics of making life work and solving all the problems that arose. We struggled to notice what went well, or connect joyfully with our kids. We were often discouraged, in spite of our good intentions to bring encouragement and joy into our home. We wish we’d have seen back then this delightful 1 minute video of a young boy learning how to ride a bike:
Research has shown that being bored is not such a bad thing for kids. Boredom can foster creativity and patience. Yet, when a parent hears that tired phrase, “I’m bored!” again and again, we may feel the need to fix the boredom problem, and keep our kids happy and busy. Does this work? Possibly. But, only if you are trying to fix the problem in the short term. Once the activity or event is over, the familiar whine resurfaces. How do we beat boredom once and for all with kids, while at the same time teach them some important life skills? Read the story below about my interaction with a seven-year-old family friend, and consider these four tips to beat boredom in your own family.
Josie looked at me (the “fun guy” at the table) as she announced with conviction, “I’m bored!”
We were at an outdoor restaurant, and she had finished eating before the rest of us.
jarenwicklund | iStockphoto.com
Last Christmas I pulled out God’s Word to read the familiar passages of Luke 2:4-20 to my niece and nephews and extended family.
The version I read from was the Hawai’i Pidgin Bible (“Da Jesus Book”), a Wycliffe translation of the New Testament into the language of Native Hawaiians. The Hawai’i Pidgin language is a mix of common English and Polynesians roots. It’s a fascinating translation that can seem rather silly at first glance, but can also surprise you with its simple depth. Read this section a couple times for yourself and you’ll see what I mean:
Research has shown that being bored is not such a bad thing for kids. Boredom can foster creativity and patience. Yet, when a parent hears that tired phrase again and again, we may feel the need to “fix” the boredom problem and keep our kids happy and busy. Does this work? Possibly. But, only if you are trying to fix the problem in the short term. Once the activity or event is over, the familiar whine resurfaces. How do we beat boredom once and for all with kids while at the same time teach them some important life skills? Read the case study below and consider these four tips to beat boredom in your own family.
“I’m bored!” young Josie announced with conviction.
We were at an outdoor restaurant and she had finished eating before me.
My “keep people happy” value kicked in, and right away I felt an urgency to “fix” her boredom. I immediately started looking for something she could do. There were no crayons at the table, no booklets to page through and no playground near, and there was no way I was going to let her play with my phone. Josie sat impatiently, waiting for me to somehow magically solve her problem. And then it dawned on me.
This was Josie’s problem, not mine.
But I was doing all the brain work to solve it. Realizing that simple fact helped me choose a different course.
Family Meetings: just the words send some parents into a state of anxiety while kids yawn and get immediately distracted. But with a few simple guidelines family meetings can be fun, build cooperation, unity, and even leadership skills!
Sometimes it takes a living, breathing experience to influence how we think about interactions with our children. The Connected Families model of stop and breathe helped me to understand that, as a father, if I desire obedience from my child, I should resist the urge to control their behavior and instead look for connection with my child’s heart. Read my story below for insight about how to apply this principle and see how mindful parenting (after I learned the hard way) really works.
It was the first warm day of spring in Minnesota, which usually means MUD.
The ground was still soggy from the snow melt, but the air was clean and fresh and the flowers were just beginning to peek through the soil. I was outside with two of our three kids and they were enjoying one of the great experiences of childhood: puddle jumping.
Enter our oldest child onto the scene. Shelbi had a number of qualities attributed to many oldest children: leadership, organization, rule-follower and in Shelbi’s case, generally cooperative — which is what made it all the more surprising when she came outside wearing her nice new pants and shirt.
In a family, we all need each other. We are a team, and we share in the responsibility of the household. “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor. 12:18). Each child has a special contribution to make to the body of Christ, and to whatever group she is in, including her family. When everyone contributes, everyone benefits. One child’s service to the family blesses other family members.
In addition, children need to serve in order to grow into healthy, contributing adults. When parents do everything for their children, they can create a sense of entitlement that leaves kids unprepared to care for themselves and others. However, when kids use their talents in ways that bless others, they begin to find their way into the purposes for which God created them.
So what can I do to help my family learn to serve together?
At times, children naturally enjoy each other. But conflict is inevitable. If parents allow it, isolated conflicts can turn into a persistent rivalry with the power to dominate their children’s relationships with each other. In other words, if we wait for kids to fight to be engaged in their relationship, we’ve waited too long.
We have talked before about some “DOs and DON’Ts” of how to peel your kids off the screen. It may seem difficult to help your kids discover fun alternatives to their action-packed video games or TV shows, but it can be done! It will take some intentionality on your part, of course, but making the goal of a memory-filled summer in which relationships are enriched will be worth your time and effort. Check out this list of ways to have fun with your kids — no screens required!
1. Play with your kids!
Everything listed below will dramatically increase in its value when you do it together with your kids.