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…
Jesus said that “smart carpenters” build a sturdy house on solid rock. Then when the storms of life hit, nothing will move the house.
This doesn’t mean storms won’t pelt the house from time to time, and even inflict some damage. It means the house will stand strong, able to endure even the most ferocious of storms.
When I extend this metaphor into parenting, I realize that before I get too worried about the “house” of parenting skills, I need to build a strong Foundation.
The way to get the best out of people is to orient people toward others.
Think about it. When are you at your best? It’s almost always when you are contributing to the welfare of others. Certainly there are those rare situations on the athletic field or perhaps in a business arena where the individual outshines the group. But people are almost always at their best when whatever it is they are doing is for the benefit of someone else.
The same is true of your kids. The more you can help them to do what they do in ways that benefit others, the more they’ll feel a sense of purpose about their lives. The more they feel purposeful about one area of life, the better they’ll do in other parts of life.
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Tom was worried about taking his family on a short mission trip to a South Dakota Indian reservation. He told me, “We’re really interested in this trip. We think it would be good for us and for our kids. But we’re a bit scared that our stressed family dynamics will be exposed in that setting. Our last family vacation was one drama after the other.”
It was every parent’s nightmare – over two hours at the allergist’s office with three young children. The kids and I all took turns alternately getting poked for blood draws, scratched all over our backs and arms for allergy testing, and puffing to check breath levels for asthma. The results? A bountiful diagnosis of asthma and allergies for everyone, with many allergies rated 4+ on the 0-4 scale.
The markers and paper I had brought along lost their appeal about 20 minutes into the two hour process, as my stress level rose to about a 6 on the 0-4 scale!
Sometimes technology feels out of control. I am chief offender in our home. Two hours can pass and, if I’m completely honest, I don’t really remember much of what I did, saw, or believed was so important.
I recently came to realize that I was spending hours with various screens (computer, e-reader, phone, etc), as were my kids, simply because I was… BORED! Not that there weren’t other things to do, but somehow my life and the life of my kids was being sucked out of us with nothing to show for it.
Have you ever wondered what your family is “all about”? I asked this of coaching clients Ted and Dawn recently. They had come seeking help because their kids seemed ever more defiant, selfish, and irresponsible.
Eager to understand their family I asked them, “What would your kids say are the driving values you want to be sure they learn in your home? You know, how would they answer the question, ‘What is our family all about?’” Ted and Dawn weren’t sure. So I invited them to role play it with me. I played them and they played their kids. It went something like this:
The Search Institute has done years of research on how kids turn out to be healthy, contributing members of society. They are probably most well-known for their list of 40 developmental assets that kids need to be successful as adults. Number 40 has always intrigued me: Positive View of Personal Future.
In essence, when kids feel good about their future they are more likely to make wise choices, set goals and move toward them. You can help set the stage for success for your kids, by cultivating skill and joy in serving others.
Our family likes to have plans in the works for the upcoming year. A possible Florida trip this spring to see family? What about our family’s favorite summer vacation spot in the Colorado Rockies? In order to make these dreams a reality, with the family calendar looking more like a 3-D puzzle, some advanced planning is a must. Many families do a great job adequately preparing for a variety of things in the future, with kids involved in the discussion and planning: Vacations. Celebrations. College. Weddings.
But has your family ever considered this question, “What kind of family do we want to be this year?” It’s the kind of question that may seem overwhelming, which usually causes it to end up on the back-burner in most homes — mine included.
Here are 3 questions you can ask your family members over the next 3 weeks:
“…he will turn the hearts of the parents to their children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous” Luke 1:17
What if the way you disciplined your kids had the power to turn their hearts toward or away from the safety of your love, your home, and even God? We think it does. Our conclusion comes from extensive work with kids since 1985.
When kids steal, disobey, defy, cheat, lash out, or otherwise sin, in their hearts, they leave. They leave the safety of trustworthy relationships. They leave the safety of boundaries and limits placed for their protection. They leave the purposes for which God created them. These are acts of rebellion. All kids do this. All humans do this.
The way we are treated when we sin determines whether or not we’ll feel safe to return to the protection of the relationships, the love, the boundaries, and the purposes of God for our lives. In our years working in youth groups with other people’s kids we sometimes learned this the hard way. Many of the unchurched kids we were hoping to reach would quit coming after they were caught doing something they shouldn’t do – and disciplined. Especially if the discipline was reactive or shaming, we could pretty much guarantee that unless a strong relationship of grace was in place, we’d never see those kids again.