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!”  

One Hour to Refresh Your Soul This Christmas!

podcast jim and lynne connectingAs 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!



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?

Why This Mom Loved Her Messy, Lopsided Christmas Tree

lopsided christmas tree messy loved itCheck out this “unique” Christmas tree. Not exactly what you’d expect to see in the town square, right?

While this “creative” design might have your fingers itching to straighten those dangling garlands, the mom whose tree it is decided she liked it how it was. Why? It was decorated by her children, a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 6-year-old.

Her decision might seem a little strange at first — after all, decorating can be a team effort, and parents can be on the team to make the house look presentable, right?

But ponder this: What message are the parents communicating to their children by not re-decorating this lopsided tree to a more sophisticated style?

  • What matters is not how things look, but the heart behind it.
  • You and your creativity are more important than my style of decorating.
  • I’m enjoying this stage of life with you, just the way you are.

Cultivating an attitude of loving our kids no matter what — even when their decorating is a little less than picture-perfect — in fact, ESPECIALLY then — is one of the best gifts you can give them this Christmas.


Did you know that Connected Families was started 13 years ago, reaching just a few hundred people in Chaska, MN? And now families all over the globe – from Australia, to Brazil, to China – are leaning into grace-filled biblical parenting. If you live outside the United States and receive our parenting tips, or have taken an online course, or have read our books, send us a quick note! We’d love to hear from you.

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5 Awesome Ideas to Make the Most of Your Family’s Christmas

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.

Elf on a Shelf: The Good, the Bad, and 4 Character Building Ideas

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?”

Help Kids Enjoy Giving More than Getting

gifts stack give receive

As many of us prepare for our annual Christmas gift exchanges, it can be easy to be caught up worrying about making sure that everyone has the perfect gift, or that all the kids get something they wanted, or that all the gifts are fair.

It can be easy in all the rush to forget that we in the United States are already rich in comparison with most of the rest of our world-neighbors. The most alarming of the many statistics is that nearly half the world lives on less than $2 per day per person. That’s not just for food – that’s for everything!

It’s one thing to know this and talk about it in passing from time to time. It’s another to illustrate it and talk in depth about it with your kids. Let it sink in. Discuss and pray through what you want to do about it.

A Surprisingly Powerful Strategy to Spice Up Your Christmas

grandpa & granddaughter read bible

jarenwicklund |

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:

The Parents’ Guide to Surviving Christmas

Christmas is here. It seems only yesterday that it was the start of school… Thanksgiving even… and now the celebration of Jesus’ birth is upon us. What’s a busy parent to do to make sure the kiddos are still feeling safe, loved, capable, and responsible amidst all the hustle and bustle? Here are a few ideas from Christmas past…