Planning a vacation this year? Read this first.

How to be intentional as you plan a trip.

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…

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.

Questions to Put the THANKS Back in Thanksgiving

“So, kids, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?” you ask.

“My family, my house, my friends, my dog and Jesus.” (Same answers as last year….)

If you think your kids might be open to some deeper thinking this year, we’ve provided a handful of conversation starters about gratitude. We invite you try any or all of them and put a little bigger dose of gratitude in your Thanksgiving season:  

How I Helped My Baby Sleep Without a Sleep Method

Did you find this blog because you Googled, “How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” Well then, my friend, soak in this moment of knowing…this is NOT your magic bullet to deep nourishing sleep. At Connected Families, we don’t believe in quick fixes. We believe in lasting change. We believe in seeking the Holy Spirit, and the hard work that brings rich connection between parent and child.

If you have been following our work for a while, you are familiar with the Connected Families Framework. Over the last two years, while working behind the scenes I couldn’t help but memorize and internalize these four levels of parent/child connection. I assumed it would come in handy in my parenting journey, but I was not expecting to apply it so early!

To Unlock Your Child’s Heart, Just Ask for the Key!

If you are reading this, you probably want your kids to know how much you love them. And you probably tell them often that you do. But effectively communicating love is not always so simple. How can we be sure that what we mean as love is received as love? It can take insight, determination and creativity to communicate love messages in ways children can’t miss them.

Are your mornings brutal?

Start Your Day With Loving Connection

John was fed up. Like many parents, he came to me looking for a quick fix. No matter what consequences or logic John put in place, his 6th grade son Ben just wouldn’t take responsibility for getting himself up and moving, and out the door on time for school.

He told me that everything he’d tried had failed.

Rather than talking about the behavior, I asked him, “Does Ben know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love him?”

A Quirky, Fun Joy Builder for Your Home

Are you “happy of yourself?”

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:

Staying Connected With Your Teen

When they stiff arm and reach for you at the same time

When kids become teens, they start acting like they don’t need us. If we don’t understand why they’re doing this, and figure out ways to respond gracefully, we risk building resentment in the relationship.

It helps to understand that teens who push us away may be merely expressing a normal developmental stage in the best way they know how. After all, it’s their job to become their own person, and become more responsible for their lives. When parents find ways to keep love alive, even during this sometimes tense stage of life, they have their best shot at helping their kids launch confidently in just a few years.

Check out this video (made in partnership with Family Life Canada) to learn more.

No crying over spilt milk

Connecting with a pre-schooler

Two-year-old Sam asked for milk while waiting for breakfast. His mom, Rebekah, was happy to oblige and poured him a small cup. Sam was at a curious, exploratory stage of life. He didn’t want the milk so much for drinking, but for a little science experiment about liquids and gravity. So he poured it all out. Onto himself.

Is Your Discipline Too Tough, Too Soft, or Just Right?

Is Your Discipline Too Tough-

Kids are struggling these days. There is more confusion about life, more depression and  anxiety, and more behavioral disorders than ever. The pace of life keeps us scrambling and not as thoughtful as we would want to be.

We tend to parent from a confused place of anxiety rather than a place of intentional confidence.