Making your spouse feel appreciated

The next time you’re alone with the kids, have them sit down at a table and write a note of thanks to Mom or Dad.  Have them list 5 things they’re grateful for and then put the letters on your refrigerator.  Your spouse will be deeply touched and you will be modeling for your children what a healthy marriage looks like.

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Telling stories

Your kids love stories about themselves. Tell your son about the night he was born. Tell your daughter about the day she took her first steps. Talk about the funny way they used to eat cereal. Just think back to all of the cute things your children did when they were small. Then, when you’re sitting at the dinner table or tucking your kids into bed, share these memories. Watch their faces light up as the spotlight shines on them.

Parenting is a conversation, not an event

Author Paul Tripp writes: “We must get away from the event mentality of parenting. We form a way of thinking through thousands of mini-talks.”  So true!  Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, especially family relationships.  When conversation flows freely in your family, love and trust are the end result.  Conversations can be started with an easy phrase, like “what do you think about _____?”

Are you a good listener to your kids?

A good listener?  Hardly.  But maybe a good lecturer.  So what does it mean to parent as a good listener?  Well, I’ll give you a couple of hints… its more than the absence of talking… and it doesn’t involve multitasking when your child is speaking to you.  Listening is the active process of hearing what our child is saying, looking at their eyes and body language for clues, processing it all to determine what’s really going on, and then asking follow up questions.   When we really listen, our child will feel, at least for that moment, like they’re the most important person in the world.

Ask about their school day

If you want to properly connect with your school-age children, you have to know what is going on in your child’s school.  And there’s no better way to do that than by asking insightful questions.  Here are 3 to help get you started:

1. What should you do when school seems boring?

2. What subject or topic really excites you?

3. Does how you do in school really impact your future?

What is one of the best gifts you can give to your children?

It’s not some high-tech gadget you can pick up at a store… it’s a sense of belonging. So how can you instill that in your kids? At home, let your kids know they’re important to you, and to your family. Affirm their positive character traits, encourage their unique gifts, and let them know their thoughts and opinions matter. Then, when you’re out in public, praise them to others – and proudly claim your children by saying, “This is my daughter, Kelsey… she’s an amazing young lady”… “This is my son, David… I’m so proud of him.” Or, “Let me introduce you to Ryan, He is a man of integrity”. Give your kids a sense of belonging and they’ll never have to look for it elsewhere.

Divorce and teens

Divorce is never easy on anyone, but teens often channel their emotions into destructive behaviors. A recent survey from Pediatrics journal shows that teens of divorcing families are twice as likely to use drugs or alcohol. They are also more likely to act out through physical fighting, property damage, and stealing. Others may experience depression and anxiety. But the good news is that parental support can help alleviate some of these risks. Help your kids handle divorce by making sure you keep the lines of communication open with your teen. Agree with your spouse to put aside your differences in front of the children and work together to do what’s best for them.