PARENTING TOPIC: Create a rhythm

Why Family Vacations Need to be a Non-Negotiable

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

camping

It’s funny what your kids remember.

I was doing some reminiscing with my 18 and 22 year old sons recently. We were talking about the good times we had when they were younger.

I was remembering the. . .

dinner conversations
parties
house full of friends
water fights
movie nights
bike rides and driveway hockey after school
. . .and so much more.

You know what both of them identified as some of their fondest memories growing up?

None of the above.

Both of them said of all the things we did as a family, our family vacations meant the most to them.

Family vacations were a part of our family rhythm even before we had kids. And they were a part of the rhythm whether we had money or not.

When our kids were small, we had very little extra money and we certainly couldn’t afford to fly anywhere.

But that never stopped us.

A couple times we drove for 8 hours and stayed with friends in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

We went camping many times. (Which, after it rained all night and poured into our tent, is where I came to believe God gave us technology and housing as a gift.)

We did a house swap with a pastor 12 hours away. (We won. His house was 30 minutes from the ocean and the beach.)

We drove all the way to Florida. . .twice. (It’s a Canadian tradition).

We found a really cool, inexpensive place an hour from home and spent a week there for about 18 summers in a row.

As the kids got older, we did some more adventurous things. I took each of my sons individually on a trip to the West Coast (we live near Toronto). Jordan and I drove through the California, Nevada and Arizona desert together and realized there really are places with no gas stations, no restaurants and no Starbucks for hundreds of miles. Sam and I downhill biked in the Rocky Mountains (my quads have never been so sore—I could barely walk for days).

In the endless car rides, nights under the stars, favorite-song-on-repeat forever, audio books on CD (Pecos Bill narrated by Robin Williams???—oh my goodness), arguments about which restaurants to go to and what time we were allowed to get up because we squeezed all of us into a hotel room. . .something magical happened.

Now I realize there will be some of you who say, “We can’t possibly afford the time or money for a vacation this year. ” We were that family more than a few times.

What did we do about the lack of time and money for a vacation? We went anyway.

It wasn’t part of some big plan. I know that at the time, given the craziness of life, we simply felt we needed a break.

We just had no idea that all this time together would have such a cumulative impact.

But looking back, I now see the value of spending time together over time. And strangely, at 18 and 22, so do my kids.

So this year, why don’t you take a little vacation?

Don’t worry about. . .

how simple it is
that it’s not exotic
that you can’t really find the money to fly anywhere

Borrow someone’s house and give them yours for the week. Go camping nearby. Go to the lake for the weekend. It really doesn’t matter.

But when you get away, something powerful happens in families. You’ll build a bond that’s deeper than you realize.

This summer, we’re going on another family vacation.

And you know what? I can’t wait. Surprisingly, neither can my kids.

What have been your favorite family vacations?

Lightening Up Christmas

Monday, December 9th, 2013

RJ1_8184
It seems to me, in recent years, Christmas has become quite the conundrum. Maybe it always has been as complicated as it now feels, or maybe I’m just more tuned in since becoming a parent, but it seems like everything you do—or don’t do—this time of year is intended to make a statement:

Is Santa coming to your house?
What about Elf on the Shelf?
How many presents are you giving and getting?
Are you caroling, serving, reading, s’moring, Operation Christmas boxing, white elephanting?

And no matter where you land, your choice, for better or for worse, seems to be saying something about you, your family—and in the more intense situations—your faith.

I’ll admit, the whole thing leaves me feeling a little paralyzed, a little gun shy to start doing anything for fear of the camp I’ll land in, which places me in a camp in and of itself: the intentionally quiet, slower paced crowd that isn’t going to let craziness rule the Christmas season.

I’m exhausted. Not from doing anything, but from mentally trying to figure what to do.

The thing is, I am not sure I have strong feelings one way or the other on what the Anderson family Christmas should look like. This had made our days this December look pretty similar to the other days of the year—though I’m not sure that was our goal—up until a few days ago.

And then I heard something that maybe didn’t solve the issue, but at least put things in a different light. Psychologists say that when it comes to kids, the idea of traditions, of consistency, of regularity, of ritual, matters. In a child’s mind—and in a child’s imagination—traditions create “always” statements:

“In our family, we always cut down our own tree.”
“We always bake Christmas cookies together.”
“We always visit a living nativity.”
“We always write letters to Santa.”
“We always watch our favorite Christmas movies.”

It creates a sense of security, solidarity, safety in a child’s world, which—let’s face it—is something every child could benefit from.

This time of year is a prime time to start creating and reinforcing a foundation that holds firm through season and life changes. It doesn’t have to be a statement. It doesn’t have to be defended in 500 words or less or match what others in your church, small group or extended family do. It just needs to be yours. And it simply needs to happen—whatever “it” may be.

In other words, instead of allowing this season to happen to us, let’s begin moving more intentionally in a direction—not for our sakes, but for our kids. View this time of year through the lens of your children, and you may find yourself landing in a different camp altogether.

In our family, we decided to have a conversation. It was just as much about what we would do, as it was about what we wouldn’t. Not as it relates to the various “positions” we take on certain things, but on how involved and fired up we are going to be about all the positions to begin with.

Meaning, we decided our tradition, generally speaking, was going to be to have fun. To relax. To stop over thinking. To stop stressing and to start looking for at least one thing—but no more than a few—to pour energy into. And then to enjoy it. Because if we are in the stage of life where we have the power to create “always” statements for my kids, then I want to be sure I am creating always statements I want to stick.

“We always laughed.”

“We always had fun.”

“We always focused on the true meaning of Christmas but never lost the wonder, the magic, the fun in it.”

Let’s simplify. Let’s ask a new question. Instead of picking a camp or picking a fight, what if we decided instead to pick an “always”?

What will your Christmas look like this year, and as a result what will your kids’ memories look like when they think back to this extra special time of year?

Sarah_Anderson_BW_144Sarah Anderson writes for the XP3 student curriculum at Orange. She is married to Rodney Anderson and is mom to two beautiful bouncy boys, Asher and Pace.

 

What Every Kid Wants

Monday, December 2nd, 2013
Boy with plane

Photograph by Reggie Joiner

It’s really simple. Every kid wants to have fun. I was reminded of that fact last week when kids showed up for Thanksgiving at my house. We had worked on decorating, arranging enough food to feed twenty plus adults, and creating the right playlist of classic holiday tunes. Then at the last minute, we ran by and picked up a few age appropriate toys for the only two children that would be present. One was two and one was seven. I set up two individual small tables with a couple of items that I figured would probably be ignored.

I just have this basic philosophy that whenever a kid walks into any home, he or she is asking the question, “What is there fun to do here?” It will probably be followed at some point by another question, “What is here that I like to eat?” By the way, just in case you don’t know, most kids don’t like turkey. The point is if you are the adult responsible for hosting an event in your home, you are a child’s only hope not be trapped in a boring space—one of any child’s greatest fears. Maybe that’s because several hours of football and meaningful conversations seems like an eternity for a seven-year-old.

So it was exciting to see the eyes of a two-year-old light up when he spotted the table full of cars across the room. It confirmed what I suspect is true about every child. They are hard-wired to play. And the one thing they will probably remember about your house, about your holidays, about their time with you will have to do with fun. Am I over-simplifying? Not at all. Kids are not that complicated. They want to have fun. And it’s the gauge they will ues to measure. . .

Church
School
Uncles
And your house.

It’s really all about the fun. I’ll even make another suggestion. You should put this somewhere so you can remember it.

If it’s not fun, kids will not want to be there very long.

This principle actually applies to every life stage of your kids. It’s the joy factor that makes your home attractive or not attractive. As your kids grow up, you should work harder and harder to keep plenty of laughter and fun in your home environment. That’s why fun should be just as much a priority for adults as it is for kids.

Creating a powerful play history with kids could be the most important thing you do to nurture your relationship with them.

They will remember the fun. Ask one seven-year-old what he remembers about thanksgiving at our house this year. I think he will probably say something about the legos not the turkey.

What are some of your best ideas to keep things fun for kids who show up at your house during the holidays?

Don’t Be Late For Dinner

Monday, November 25th, 2013

 

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Ever notice there’s something special about a meal? Think about it:

You might have gotten engaged during or after a fine meal. (I did!)

Your best dates are often centered around a favorite meal or place. (Even if it’s your favorite burger joint.)

Your best family memories are built around food (from Christmas, to Thanksgiving, to birthdays, to summer barbecues).

You ‘ve had some of the most memorable family conversations around the kitchen table. (For better or for worse.)

One of the central elements of the Christian faith is based around a meal. (Think about that…)

I know it wasn’t easy to make the time to eat together when my kids were young. We were busy. The kids were busy. But we made it a priority. If we hadn’t. . .

We never would have heard my oldest son complain that the purple cabbage we served him looked like chopped up Barney skin (and he wasn’t eating it).

My kids never would have tricked me into downing a tablespoon of dry cinnamon…and almost choking to death. We all now think it’s hilarious but seriously…don’t try this at home.

We would have missed so much of the meaningful, heartfelt conversation that happened over the course of their first two decades of life.

Even now that they’re 21 and 17, some of the best times we have are over food…even when it’s as simple as a Starbucks or an ice cream.

You know what we did over those meals? We built a tribe. A sense of family and community that runs deep. Very deep.  It created a sense of belonging for all of us and has set the foundation for our family for the rest of our lives.

There are a thousand reasons to skip meal time or even resent it (who has the time to cook?)

But there’s one good reason to pursue it: some of your very best moments and deepest relationships in life happen around the table.

It’s a little surprising to realize that the importance of meals is actually borne out by research.

In fact, studies have shown that families that eat dinner together five times a week or more show are at lower risk of developing poor eating habits, weight problems or alcohol and substance dependencies. They also tend to perform better academically than their peers who frequently eat alone or away from home.

One of the best ways you can connect your family with each other and with others is to have meaningful mealtimes together. No, you don’t have to cook every night.

What matters most is the company you keep when you share a meal.

  • So sit down at the table with your kids tonight.
  • Throw a dinner party next week.
  • Share a table with some interesting friends or extended family.

And over time, you’ll connect them in a way that can change so much.

As you head into Thanksgiving, remember that there’s more at stake than just a feast. You’ll be gathering with your tribe, deepening that sense of belonging that somehow gets strengthened even more deeply when you’re sharing food.

 

 

Teaching Kids Wisdom

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about the 6 things kids need over time. As we are also focusing on teaching our kids wisdom this month at Studio252, we are again reminded about how much Words Matter over time. 

By Gina McClain

It was another average weekday. Shortly after arriving home from work, I’m routinely rifling through the pile of papers pulled from my 2nd grader’s backpack. Amidst the assortment of math worksheets, writing assignments and doodles, I see one yellow slip of paper.

One glance and dread envelopes me.
Another ticket.
Another note from the teacher.
Another reminder of my son’s innate gravitational pull toward horsing around.
*sigh*

As a parent, there are worse situations to experience. This circumstance is minor in the grand scheme of things. But it’s difficult to remember this fact when it seems as if your seven-year-old believes the very purpose of a boys bathroom is for pranks. How do I help him understand the ramifications of his choices?

One of the phrases our elementary kids hear frequently at our church is “I can make the wise choice.”

I love the simplicity of this phrase. It doesn’t just speak to our capability, but of the freedom we have to pursue what is best. It doesn’t just speak to our freedom, but to the reality that wisdom is not simply accessible to us. . .it is imbedded within us.

Have you ever considered this fact?

According to what we learn from God’s Word, our kids are created in God’s image. Our kids are designed to reflect His character.
According to God’s Word, when we say yes to Christ. . . when we claim Him as Lord and Savior, God indwells us with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is given to us to guide, to teach, to help us remember what God has told us (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is also given so Truth can be revealed through us (John 15:26).

This means that our kids are not only designed to be wise, but with the Holy Spirit, they have the very source of Wisdom within them.

So the phrase “I can make a wise choice” is not a patronizing statement meant to coerce good behavior. It’s a call to press into the very core of who they are in Christ.

On our morning drive to school today, my seven-year-old and I talked about making choices. I reminded him of what a great kid he is and of the many opportunities he has today to put that on display. To make the wise choice because with God, he’s got all the wisdom he needs. It’s his job to listen and do.

Maybe today we’ll escape another “ticket situation.” Maybe we won’t. Obviously this won’t be the last time he makes a poor choice. This won’t be the last time we’ll have a conversation about the concept of making wise decisions.

So I want to be prepared.

If words matter, and how I deliver my words matters, then knowing how to phrase an important lesson in simple terms is the parenting tool I need to teach and guide my kids through everyday circumstances.

“I can make the wise choice” is one I’ll always have in my back pocket.

What are simple phrases you use to teach your kids big lessons?

 

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Gina McClain is the Children’s Ministry Director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gina is driven by the idea of equipping parents for the journey of teaching their kids how to follow Christ. Based upon her experience as a mom, she identifies with the everyday challenges parents wade through. Gina and her husband, Kyle, have three kids, Keegan, Josie and Connor.

3 Practical Habits To Make Time Matter More

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

By Kristen Ivy

So time is moving. And it’s moving faster than you think.

What does that mean for you as a parent? How can you make the most of the limited amount of time that you have with your kids? How can you make sure that time isn’t getting away from you?

I certainly don’t know the answer to all those questions. But here are three pretty practical ideas that might be helpful:

COUNT IT DOWN

You don’t have to count down the seconds, or the minutes, or even the days. But maybe there is a value in counting your weeks. Because when you see how much time you have left, you tend to get serious about the time you have now.

So create a visual reminder. Have a countdown clock. In my family, we have two jars of marbles—one for each child. Inside each jar are enough marbles to represent the number of weeks that we will have with them before their high school graduation (we hope – fingers crossed for passing every grade). Every Sunday, I remove a marble from each jar as a reminder that our time is limited. Removing the marble doesn’t do anything special for my kids. But it does something for me mentally. It reminds me that time is moving. And because I know my weeks are numbered, I tend to make what matters matter more.

*A really simple way to keep track of the number of weeks you have left with your son or daughter is to download the FREE Legacy Countdown App!

MARK IT UP

Some parents are naturally wired to schedule things. Some (like me) are not. But regardless of how scheduled or unscheduled you are, you probably have a calendar or a notebook or a napkin somewhere that helps you remember what you need to do.

As a working mom, I am constantly filling my days with meetings, and deadlines, and tasks that feel really urgent. But if I’m not intentional, that’s ALL that will get space on my calendar. So, once every month or so, I look at my calendar and schedule the things that no one is asking me to schedule. I mark up the calendar with things like:

go on a date with Sawyer.
take the kids to the park.
have a movie night.

That may sound silly. But by “marking it up,” it reserves the time. Because I know the weeks are limited. I need a reminder to make the weeks count.

MEASURE IT OUT

Every day isn’t a special day. In fact, most days are pretty typical. But one of the best ways to make the most of every week is to create some habits. There are just some things that are inherently part of the rhythm of our world. And by creating some intentional rhythms, we can make the days and the weeks count a little more.

So if you want to make your time count, don’t undervalue the simple things:

What do you do every morning at breakfast?
What if part of your breakfast routine just became looking for ways to encourage?

When do you eat together?
You don’t have to make a home-cooked meal to have a conversation. What if one meal a day was media-free time when you were intentional about having a conversation with your child?

What’s the last thing you do before they go to bed at night?
Every day ends the same way. We go to bed. So what’s your bedtime routine? How do you make the most of the moments right before your son or daughter drifts off to sleep?

I know there are people reading this blog who are smarter than me and parents who are just better at this TIME thing than I am. So what are your habits? How do you make the most of your TIME? How do you Count it Down, Mark it Up, and Measure it out. I’d love to learn from you!

Follow the rest of the conversation on Playing For Keeps as Reggie, Kristen, and others talk about the 6 things every kid needs over time. You can start with the first part of the series about how Time Matters.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to talk about how kids need Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, and Fun OVER TIME!

Kristen is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange and co-author of Playing For Keeps.She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives out the full Orange spectrum as the wife of XP3 Students Orange Specialist Matt Ivy, and the mother of two First-Look (preschool) children, Sawyer and Hensley.

Time Matters

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Kristen Ivy

I hate the clock.

No. Really.  My stepdad collects them. But I ignore them. Ask anyone who knows me at all. When it comes to time management,  I’m the worst they’ve ever met. If I tell you, “I’ll be there in five,” it usually means I still need to transfer clothes to the dryer, look for my phone, get the kids dressed for school, brush my teeth, look for my keys, put the kids in the car, go back inside the house to find my phone, and then I will be on my way. It still hasn’t sunk in  yet—all of THAT might take longer than five minutes.

In my daily fight against the clock, there’s a couple of things I’ve learned:

Time is moving. I can’t stop it. I can’t trick it. I can’t manipulate, cajole, or woo it to change. Time moves at it’s own pace regardless of my schedule or my priorities.

There may be no better example of how time moves than watching a kid grow up. This past year, my son turned four. That may not sound like a big deal to you. But I promise you, he was born yesterday. It’s like in the “five minutes” it took me to get out of the house for the day, he learned to talk, ride a bike, and tell knock-knock jokes. For some reason, this birthday hit me in a new way.

The day before, I just kept thinking “this is the last day I will ever know Sawyer as a three-year-old. Tomorrow, he will be four.” And I wondered, “Did we do everything we should have done for him in this season of his life?”

Do you have those moments, too? That’s when the panic sets in. Right?

Most of the time, I’m not thinking about how fast he is growing. But then, something happens like a birthday or a first day of school. . . And there’s that moment of panic. What if I missed a step?

That’s why I love Psalm 90:12. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Actually, I’m not really sure what that’s supposed to mean: “to number your days.” It sounds a little fatalistic. But I do know that as parents, we have a limited number of days to influence our children before they grow up, move out, and become adults.

But that doesn’t have to make us panic. When we number the days, it can actually help us relax—because we know the number of days. We can pay attention. We don’t have to wait and feel surprised when they turn eight, and twelve, and fifteen and twenty-two. We see it coming and trust that the investments we make today are having a lasting impact.

So this week – relax.

You don’t have to make the most of every minute with your kid. You can’t. It’s just not possible. And if you try, it might drive you and everyone around you crazy.

But you can make the most of each week. By showing up in their world and being present, you are creating history with them. You are making memories that will lay a foundation for their future.

By being present this week, you are reminding them they have value, they are a unique individual, they belong and have purpose.

You are making small investments that will add up over time because TIME has a cumulative effect.

So keep doing what you are doing.

The clock is ticking, but the good news is that TIME may be the best platform you have for investing in the life of your son or daughter. What you do this week matters.

Here are 3 more practical ideas on how to make your time count.

Follow the rest of the conversation on Playing For Keeps as Reggie, Kristen, and others talk about the 6 things every kid needs over time.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to talk about how kids need Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, and Fun OVER TIME!

Kristen is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange and co-author of Playing For Keeps. She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives out the full Orange spectrum as the wife of XP3 Students Orange Specialist Matt Ivy, and the mother of two First-Look (preschool) children, Sawyer and Hensley.

Family Traditions

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

I took this picture while watching families during the 4th of July fireworks in Portland. Moms, dads, and kids had picnics and gathered on bridges to celebrate. It made me wonder. What does your family do during the holidays? How important do you think it is to establish traditions for your family that become memories? There is an intrinsic value in creating traditions for your children. Experts claim that good traditions are healthy for kids.

• Traditions can give children a sense of security.

It is important to establish some things for your family that will be consistent when everything else is constantly changing.

• Traditions can build a bond between family members.

Spending quality time together with extended family during strategic times can have the potential to nurture important relationships.

• Traditions can remind everyone they are connected to a bigger story.

They are actually a great time for storytelling. You can tell your kids stories about them when they were younger that they forgot. Your parents will probably tell your children stories about you that you would rather them not know. But there is an unusual power in a child hearing the stories that connect them to a bigger family.

• Traditions are a strategic opportunity to communicate the value of family.

Here are a few traditions my parents handed down to me.

Every Christmas, my dad would wire our house with external speakers and play Christmas carols outside for the entire neighborhood. (If he tried that today, he would probably get fined by the Homeowners Association.)

Every summer, we would spend a week on the farm where my mom grew up. (One summer they actually paid my cousin to pay me to work for a week bailing hay, just so they could see me do hard labor.)

Every Sunday night, a group of families we know would go over to someone’s house and play games. (I think I learned the importance of community more after church than during church.)

It is even important to create traditions that are just between you and your kids:

  • How and when do you say “I love you”?
  • What do you do when you tuck your kids into bed?
  • How do you spend Saturday mornings?
  • What do you do for Sundays at lunch?

Please share with us some traditions that you have created that have had a positive effect in your family.

How to Measure Success as a Parent

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Some things are so routine, you don’t even have to think about them.

Like . . .
eating a sandwich.
watching the news.
brushing your teeth.
driving a car.

But in less time than it takes to do any of these, a parent can. . .touch the heart of a child forever!

Be careful how you measure success.

It’s not what you learn about your kids.

Our culture is saturated with parenting resources that educate us about family issues. Most books and materials end up in a box or on a shelf. Every parent struggles with how to assimilate what they know into daily practice. Just knowing more doesn’t make you a better parent.

It’s not what you give to your kids.

Most parents will pay any price to provide what they think their kids need physically. It is easy to become so preoccupied striving for a better lifestyle, education, or neighborhood that you miss what really matters.

What is real success?

It’s what you do with your kids.

It has more to do with how you spend your time than how you spend your money. Children need a relationship more than they need things. But when parents come home at the end of the day, there’s not a lot of energy or creativity left over for relationships. The fact is there is no substitute for time. Parents need to rethink and reprioritize how they spend it.

It’s what you leave in your kids.

An inheritance is what you leave TO your children. A legacy is what you leave IN your children. One is temporary while the other is forever. Most parents plan, work, and strategize to leave an inheritance, but few have any systematic plan to leave a legacy. Issues like faith and values cannot be simply taught. They have to be transferred from one heart to the next through a special kind of relationship.

It’s more than quantity time.

Spending a large amount of time with your children doesn’t automatically establish the right kind of relationship. It usually takes something more deliberate or more intentional if you want to leave something significant in your children.

It’s more than quality time.

Sometimes there is a tendency to think you can make up for missed time. Planning a special vacation or weekend can never substitute for the lack of routine time together. You can’t cram for relationships any more than you can get physically fit in a weekend or a week.

It’s the quantity of quality times.

Having a successful relationship with children requires consistent planned effort. Moses gave a farewell speech to Israel in the book of Deuteronomy. In Deut. 6:7, he gave specific instructions for the parents to know how to pass their values along to their children. He said, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

It’s as simple as a routine.

Significant relationships need a practical routine. By rethinking and reprioritizing the routine, a parent can establish healthier relationships with their children. Why don’t you start a new routine by simply marking a few opportune times during the week or the day when you can intentionally invest in your kids.

What are some of the most significant things you do as a parent each week to establish a routine? Any ideas that other parents can borrow?

Also check out the Parent Cue App. This app is designed to help remind parents to pause and make the most of everyday moments—with prompts for videos, activities, and discussion starters.

The Road to Peace

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Every morning on the way to work, I travel a road that seems like a never-ending construction site. Workers have been perfecting this throughway for months, but it seems like there’s no end in sight. The road is down to one lane in several places, bumpy and dusty with heavy-duty vehicles lining the sides of the road and construction workers everywhere. Driving this road is like navigating an obstacle course. Yet I traverse it every morning because regardless of how difficult the drive, the road takes me where I need to go.

Often the road to peace can be as bumpy as a drive through a construction zone.

Jenna and I have four kids with four distinct personalities and four totally different ways of communicating. When everything mixes together well, we have a home full of joy. But let’s be real, the four little people in our house don’t always play nicely together. Arguments happen, and often.

When our kids fight, the quick fix is appealing. “Go to your rooms. You’re in time out. No more Wii for either of you. We’ll deal with this later.”

But when we take a breath and remember that we’re raising adults, we realize that the quick fix doesn’t teach them how to deal with real life, just how to escape it.

When kids are arguing, we have to be willing to put on our hard hats and walk our kids through the messy part of making peace. We can use those broken moments to help them learn how to restore the relationship that gets broken when an argument shatters the peace.

Over the years we’ve tried all sorts of strategies for helping our kids. Some have been great, others, not so much. Here are a few of the ones that have seemed to work:

  • Imagine a “consequence” that restores what was broken and builds relational equity for the future. For instance, the brother that doesn’t allow little sister to play with him has to invite her to play a favorite board game together before the end of the week. When they see how much fun they have together, it helps build a relationship that might better weather the next squabble.
  • Have your kids express to each other how they feel about what happened. Encourage active listening by having each of them repeat back what they heard the other say in their own words.
  • Prompt your kids to apologize and ask for forgiveness. And seal the deal. They don’t have to hug or handshake or even offer a “foot five;” they just need an outward, mutual sign to let the other one know it’s over and we’re all ok now.

It takes a lot less energy to employ the quick fixes. But with the end goal of raising peace-making adults in mind, you can see that it’s worth the time to help your kids practice making peace. By helping them learn how to travel through the bumps in a rocky relational road, you’ll be helping your kids build lasting relationships with each other and setting them up to win with friendships outside of your home too.

Dan Scott works at Orange in New Product Development and is the Art Director and Large Group Director for 252 Basics. Dan and his wife Jenna have four amazing kids: Liam, Ellison, Addison, and Taye.