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…
“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:
A mom of three kids ages 10 to 14 emailed me this story this week:
A friend once told me she worked to greet her children with enthusiasm, even if they had just come into the kitchen from the living room. I thought that might be a helpful way for me to consciously verbalize my enthusiasm for my kids, and so I began doing that a couple of years ago. “Hi, Sweetie! How’s that homework going?” “Welcome home from school!” “Hi, Hon! I saw you reading your new book in the family room. How is it so far?”
The funny thing is, the kids have all begun to do that with each other, even imitating my tone—and I don’t think they’re aware of it! When one of them leaves the house, the others jump up to hug them and to say, “Have fun! I love you!”
It is yet another reminder to me of the opportunity we have to set the tone for our home and how much it impacts our kids and their relationships, in ways we can’t possibly foresee.
Apply It Now:
- If you could be a fly on the wall watching your interactions with your kids throughout the week, how would you describe the tone in your house? What kind of tone do you want to be setting?
- What are some ways you could take advantage of the opportunity to set the tone for your home by “verbalizing your enthusiasm”? Brainstorm some phrases that you might say. (And feel free to share in the comments!)
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As parents, we want what’s best for our children, including a life of strong faith, values, and prayer.
Sometimes it can seem like a daunting task — how do I teach faith to my children? How do I help them understand things that sometimes I don’t even understand?
We may search for the “right words” to say, or the “right book” to recommend, or the “right youth group” to send our kids to — and these things are not unimportant. But the most powerful way for us to teach our kids faith, values, and prayer is to live them.
There are many ways in which parents intentionally or unintentionally model positive character qualities: self-control, caring, diligence, faithfulness, etc.
But we can also model negative character qualities, especially when we’re not thoughtful!
When our eldest son Daniel and I got into power struggles, I was keenly aware of how disrespectful he was! But I was usually oblivious to my own angry, shaming words and tone.
With a scowl, pointed finger, and strong tone I would grandly announce,
“It is NOT OK to talk like that!”
My condescending proclamations were an attempt to feel in charge, but did nothing to calm the conflict.
We were excited to see our frequently-used concept of “the do over” appear on the blog of business and leadership guru Seth Godin, and we think his insights apply just as much to parents as to businesspeople. Here’s what he had to say:
Parents are constantly asking us about the best ways to manage their kids’ technology use. They generally want answers about what technology they can use to monitor and control things.
But kids are far smarter than most of their parents will ever be about using technology. So we very much agree with Dr. Charles Fay, lifelong Child Psychologist and parent educator who says:
“Real solutions to technology issues have little to do with technology… and almost
everything to do with relationships.”
Sometimes when parents make constructive parenting changes, things appear to get worse before they get better. This is because changes, even positive ones, throw kids off-balance. They live by a well-learned set of unwritten rules and it sometimes takes a while to grow comfortable with new “rules” of engagement. So they will often push even harder to test their parents resolve.
One of my coaching clients experienced this with her 9-year-old son, and gave permission to share it in hopes that it would help other parents.
“Stay positive.” It’s almost a cliche at this point. But the parenting truth behind this oft-spoken statement is that kids need constructive affirmation and encouragement from their parents.
This might sound simple — but sometimes, affirming our kids can be really hard!
Laura was stuck. Though she was passionate about bringing her boys up “in the training and instruction of the Lord,” she could tell that her oldest son Connor, at only 4, was already getting “exasperated” by her reminders: “God wants us to…” …be kind, share, be respectful, be responsible, and on and on.
At best he just tolerated dinner time prayer, and other times even seemed to enjoy interrupting it loudly. She was rightfully concerned about his growing lack of interest in her “spiritual guidance,” but didn’t know what to do. For Connor, God was becoming the Great Disapprover of all things childish and misguided.