Sometimes the transition from highly-structured school days to loosey-goosey summer days can put a little extra strain on family relationships. But the extra time can also be a great opportunity to build deep connection between family members. To help you get a few ideas, here is a smorgasbord of parenting tips and resources to invigorate your family time this summer!
“…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.
We live in a time and place in history that makes living a routine lifestyle extremely difficult. Yet research reveals that one of the most important ways parents can build faith and values into their children is through traditions and rituals. When night-time prayers, shared meals, and service to others are sincerely offered and become routines, the values behind these activities sink in more deeply.
So, carving out the time to weave these rituals and traditions into the fabric of their lives “impresses” children with the values taught by the rituals. This makes it far more likely they will embrace those values.
If I have a child, I have a God-given calling to parenting.
To view parenting as a calling instead of a responsibility can change my perspective on daily interaction with my children. My view of parenting challenges can change from, “What should I do about this problem?” to “What’s the opportunity in this challenge to accomplish God’s purposes?” Rather than just trying to immediately control behavior, I can prayerfully navigate through troubling times with a broader perspective and sense of purpose.
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 ideals you want them to embrace. How you do vacations is no exception. Family vacations can be memorable and deepen relationships with one another. But, going on a trip somewhere together can also be a wonderful opportunity to teach about the principles that will help your child grow in wisdom. So it’s a good idea before you plan your summer trip to be “biblically thoughtful” about the messages you are sending your child regarding how you vacation.
To Serve or Be Served?
In our hectic society, it’s often easier to skip a vacation 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…
If you lounge on the beach under palm tree while your lemonade is kept topped off, might your child get a message that we are here to be served? If you flit from one expensive, engaging activity to another, might your child conclude that we are here to be entertained, at any cost?
Years ago a co-worker of Lynne’s shared that his kids were bored and irritable after visiting a series of elaborate amusement parks for their vacation. That comment strengthened our resolve to avoid extravagant vacations.
So if you’re planning some fun time away this summer, it’s helpful to consider carefully, as a family, what is the purpose of your vacation? Can it be more than just a memorable time together? Can it be more meaningful? And how might you work together toward those goals, instead of coming back having spent a lot of money and accumulated a backlog of emails to deal with, but not sure what you accomplished.
You have good desires for your kids. You probably want them to learn neatness, diligence in homework, good eating patterns, and all sorts of other helpful habits.
But if you are anxious as you try to help them learn better habits, that anxiety often makes it harder for everyone, and your kids are more likely to reject your efforts.
There are lots of things we want our kids to learn, from how to ride a bike to how to be a faith-filled, responsible adult.
Some, like getting dressed, are easy to teach. But how do we teach our children the values they’ll need to walk with God and fulfill their calling? We’ve found the T.E.A.C.H. principles are a helpful tool for passing faith and values:
During my recent reading of “Boys Adrift” by Dr. Leonard Sax, I came across a letter that really grabbed my attention. The letter’s author is a 27-year-old doctoral student at Notre Dame — oh, and he’s addicted to video games.
I don’t think you understand the computer game phenomenon when you talk about it sapping the motivation of male 20-somethings. That’s only part of the picture. The other part is that I don’t mean that people are playing Battlefield 2 because they wish they could be shooting lots of people. But they do wish they could be doing something that mattered. When they’re playing that game, they can, for a few hours, feel like they’re doing something significant.
When I started grad school, I had a rough first year or so. Many times I came home feeling like I was never going to be any good as a scholar, like I had no hope of ever actually doing anything significant, or making any serious contribution even just in the academic community. But I could turn on the computer and play X-Wing and feel like I was helping to defeat the Galactic Empire. If you want to feel significant, feeling like you just destroyed the Death Star helps for a little while. ….
…[T]here is also, in many games, beauty and adventure. In Morrowind, you can wander through a really beautiful, detailed, vivid world. Now, I prefer reality. But I live in South Bend, Indiana. There aren’t lots of places to hike or even to walk. …
Of course I agree that people should stop wasting time in front of the PC/Xbox and go do something real. But in order to treat a problem it may be helpful to know something about how it seems to those who suffer from it.
Richard R., Notre Dame
From Richard’s letter, we can learn several important things about how to thoughtfully and gracefully talk with our kids about video games:
When kids begin chore wars, often the most effective response is not declaring war but shifting perspective and discipling children through the process. In this case, I helped Sandy and Jeff develop the following practical plan as they shifted their efforts from focusing on “How do we stop the complaining and get some help?” to “How can we use this opportunity to build character and even faith?”