Messes. You’re likely surrounded by a bunch of them. Piles of dishes in the kitchen. Wrapping paper on the floor. Tired and over-sugared children. Stressed relationships. Just like parenting, Christmas is both messy, and beautiful.
Today we celebrate Jesus coming into our messy, beautiful world. To meet us exactly where we are and to draw us into a relationship with God, our heavenly Father.
At Connected Families, we strive every day to meet parents exactly where they are in their parenting journey. To meet them in the mess. To encourage, to challenge. To celebrate and see the beauty in even the smallest parenting successes.
Our deepest heart’s desire is for parents to embrace God’s grace so they can pass that grace onto their children in the messiest of messes. And then, prayerfully, kids will be attracted to a relationship with Christ as they see their parents living out their faith in the messes and the beauty of daily life.
Whether you’ve been following Connected Families for years or are new to our mailing list (welcome!) we are honored to join you in your parenting journey. We wish you and your loved ones a beautiful Christmas celebration.
Jim and Lynne Jackson
You’re in the game aisle at the store, visualizing the wonderful memories you’ll create with your family during Game Night. You bring the game home and reality hits:
“I hate this game!”
“It’s not fair!”
“I’m not playing anymore!” Swish, and the game goes flying.
Hard to believe, but board games have great learning potential for kids. Depending on the game, kids can develop valuable skills: sequencing, planning, problem-solving, direction following, waiting/turn-taking/delay of gratification, teamwork, and resilience when things don’t go their way.
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!”
Parents love giving their kids good gifts. And kids love receiving them! As we explain in our Entitlement Fix 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 1970s. They 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!”
As you’re heading into some potentially stressful situations over the next few days (changing schedules, relatives who might judge your parenting, or not feeling connected to your kiddos) take an hour and listen to this encouraging podcast where Jim and Lynne were interviewed by Heather MacFadyen of the God Centered Mom podcast.
Highlights of their conversation (and why you might want to listen to the whole thing!):
- Why kids can behave better at school/other places and fall apart at home.
- Helping your kids get through challenging scenarios well, like traveling and restaurants.
- How to connect with your kids when we don’t even like them.
- Dealing with your need to get parents’ approval (the grandparents) when kids misbehave.
- What to do when you are trying to connect with your child and they are not responding.
So, maybe on your drive to your holiday gathering, or maybe while you are in the bathroom taking an especially long time putting on your make-up and doing your hair, listen to this interview. You’ll be refreshed, encouraged and challenged. And you might even come out on the other side of Christmas with an extra measure of joy!
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?
It’s that time again — time for Christmas carols, snowflakes, and Advent candles, but also time for hectic schedules, slushy boots, and the Christmas cookie sugar crash.
Christmas (and Advent) can be a wonderful time to share meaningful connection as a family, but it can also be a challenging diversion from your normal routine. So we’ve assembled a countdown of our five most popular Christmas parenting tips to help you make the most of your family’s Christmas season.
Many of us grew up with Santa, but his little buddy the Elf on a Shelf has gotten growing attention in recent years.
Just like the Santa story, the “Elf” story can lead your kids toward God, or away. We just like to think deeply at Connected Families, and how we celebrate the birth of our Savior is certainly an important topic warranting thoughtfulness. So let’s take a look at the Elf on a Shelf through the all-purpose Connected Families questions: “What’s going on?” and “What should we do?”
Whether you’re feeling totally frazzled or totally prepared, here are some of our favorite parenting tips to help you and your family not only survive but find connection, faith, and the peace of Christ through this Christmas season.