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Parenting

💡 Creating Closer Relationships in Stepfamilies

💡 Creating Closer Relationships in Stepfamilies

Strengthen bonds between kids and stepparents by going on a trip that doesn’t fit into the status quo.
Karen was like many biological mothers—she wanted her son and her new husband to have a quality relationship. They were cordial enough, but there was no real connection between them. She wrote:
I am looking for information on how to improve communication in stepfamilies. I was a single mom from the time my son was 3 years old until he was 15. …

💡 5 Ways I’d Like to Thank My Divorced Parents

💡 5 Ways I’d Like to Thank My Divorced Parents

Despite their decision to divorce, both of my parents made sacrifices along the way that kept my brother and me as their priorities.
When I was eight years old, a friend of mine whose parents had gotten a divorce told me how great it was to have two separate Christmases, one with each parent. Double the presents, double the fun, right? For an eight-year-old, most definitely.
But even at that age, I knew the significance of having only one Christmas. …

💡 Teaching Our Kids Not to Be Bystanders to Bullying

💡 Teaching Our Kids Not to Be Bystanders to Bullying

Most kids on today’s campuses probably fall into the category of “bystander.” They know they should probably do something, but they don’t.
“I feel guilty about it every day,” he told the crowd, a little choked by his own words.
The church youth group was captivated by Blake’s vulnerability.
Blake seemed like a normal high school kid: decent grades, a soccer player, and from a good home. But this particular young man was obviously plagued with guilt.
“I saw him being made fun of every day,” he said, …

❤️ Mom, Kind Is the New Skinny

❤️ Mom, Kind Is the New Skinny

What if our generation of moms decided to love the mom bods we’ve got? Motherhood puts a glow on any woman! It’s a look that’s well worth the wear.
Remember when you were expecting your first child? As your body changed, you hoped that eventually you could regain some resemblance of your pre-mom body. Many of us have been able to pull that off by opting for Chick-fil-A salads over nuggets, 5 a.m. sweat sessions over an extra hour of sleep, …

🍰 🎉 When Everyone Gets Invited to the Birthday Party

🍰 🎉 When Everyone Gets Invited to the Birthday Party

My kid’s birthday party means I include and find commonalities with nearly total strangers. And it’s a really beautiful thing.
I’m usually a mess the day of my kid’s birthday party. I’m frazzled, frantic, and barely pulled together before showtime. I’ve fallen into the trap of making sure each of these occasions is a Pinterest-perfect event.
If the birthday party is at my house, I make sure every corner of the house is clean. I make sure I have enough food for all the invitees and more. …

💡 Co-Parenting Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly

💡 Co-Parenting Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly

When the world is telling you to blame your ex-spouse and embrace bitterness, you can work on turning your thoughts toward a peaceful working relationship.
After divorce you and your ex may not be husband and wife anymore, but you are still mom and dad to your kids. That means you have to learn a new way of parenting, which we refer to as co-parenting. This is when you and your ex-spouse most need cooperation for the sake of your kids. …

✌️ Asking Forgiveness From My Kids…Again

✌️ Asking Forgiveness From My Kids…Again

My kids need to grow up with the knowledge that I require a Savior just as much as they do.
I yelled at my kids tonight.
It started before the mouthwash spilled all over the floor, my jeans, and my new shirt.
That I have an issue with anger and emotional control is not something I’ve kept secret. But it’s still painfully destructive in my own home:
“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (Proverbs 14:1). …

💡 Lose the Toxic, Not the Masculinity

💡 Lose the Toxic, Not the Masculinity

If our hearts chafe at this whole line of thinking, our issue is with the gospel, not the cultural narrative.
Gillette recently released an ad about toxic masculinity, an interesting phrase that until recently only referred to hyper-masculine boorishness. But now the national dialogue seems to have shifted to a point where toxic masculinity refers not to excess, but to all things masculine. This is a tragic loss of nuance in an otherwise important conversation.
Admittedly, I had already heard some radio commentary about the ad that preconditioned me to hate it before actually seeing it. …

🙏 Is Prayer Your First Response?

🙏 Is Prayer Your First Response?

We must train ourselves to make prayer a default reaction in all situations.
Emergency service people are called first responders. Their first response is to help. Police, fire fighters, and paramedics all race to respond when someone is in need. For many it comes naturally. For most, training is needed to be able to fly into action during an emergency. As a former police officer, my husband was trained to be a first responder.
As a Christian, I have a desire to speak to the Lord about things. …

💡 Connecting With Your Spouse Through the Busy Parenting Years

💡 Connecting With Your Spouse Through the Busy Parenting Years

When we became parents, our entire universe shifted. What happened to the couple we were?
Before kids, Josh and I went to movies not rated G and ate at restaurants not offering Styrofoam cups. We spent our weekends doing whatever we wanted, staying up late, and sleeping in later.
Then we became parents. And our entire universe shifted. Psychological thrillers were exchanged for films featuring talking animals. Those overpriced, chef-prepared meals turned into a quick drive-thru at Chick-fil-A. …

📱 Smartphones for Smartfamilies

📱 Smartphones for Smartfamilies

We advise against giving your children a phone if you are not ready to have a conversation with them about it multiple times a week for multiple years.

When I was in high school, I was eager to turn 16 so I could drive. To my advantage, my parents were equally eager to stop being my personal Uber. So as a family we began the process of getting my driver’s license.
Getting a license can be a pretty intimidating process. …

💡 🎄 Navigating the Holidays as an Adult Child of Divorce

💡 🎄 Navigating the Holidays as an Adult Child of Divorce

At Christmas, decisions for an adult child of divorce become especially difficult, with both parents vying for your loyalty and attention.
I never wanted a stepmom. And I certainly never wanted my kids to have a stepgrandmother.
But when my first daughter was 6 weeks old, my mom left my dad. It had been a long time coming. And from every professional’s advice, he certainly deserved it. No one faulted her for it.
I was glad they waited so long to end their marriage. …

💡 How Can I Let Go of the Mom Guilt?

💡 How Can I Let Go of the Mom Guilt?

Guilt doesn’t freshen us and give life—it suffocates us and takes more than we have to give.
I wanted to cry when I realized I forgot to send a snack with my kid to school. No, she isn’t in preschool or kindergarten, and she didn’t even seem to care. Honestly, the urge to cry was a bit ridiculous. But it was one more thing to add to that steaming pile of mom guilt in the corner of my mind. …

💡 Why Your Relationship With Your Child Matters

💡 Why Your Relationship With Your Child Matters

You have the privilege of growing a child who knows the love of God personally and knows how to love people well.
God’s first choice for receiving and experiencing love is the family. Warmly snuggled in this incubator, love nurtures life, feeds souls, and calls forth the blossoming flower of God’s unique individual design in every person He has created. Then love calls for love to be given in return.
Home is where a child takes the first tentative steps from receiving love to giving love. …

💡 🥦 🥕 15 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Better

💡 🥦 🥕 15 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Better

A nutritionist (and mom of 7-year-old triplets!) gives tried-and-true tips for getting your kids to eat vegetables, drink milk, try new foods, and more.
Every single day, I deal with picky eaters both big and small. I’m the mother of 7-year-old triplets, all of whom have very different eating habits; I’m also a dietitian who teaches the professional athletes on the Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls teams how to improve their diets. Although it’s tough to convince a towering basketball player or a 300-pound linebacker that junk food is bad for him, …

💡 Disciplining Your Children Is Challenging, but Vital

💡 Disciplining Your Children Is Challenging, but Vital

Seeing the fruit of correcting your children requires delayed gratification.
The last thing I (Jason) want to hear from my wife as I walk through the door at the end of a hard day are these words: “We have a situation. You need to deal with it.” But it happens.
I remember one evening when one of our sons was 7. I had given him a pocketknife, thinking he was ready to handle that kind of responsibility (in my defense, …

⚠️ Two Traps to Avoid: “If Only” and “What If?”

⚠️ Two Traps to Avoid: “If Only” and “What If?”

When these issues dominate my thoughts, I succumb to selfishness and fear.
In each season of my life, I’ve found myself falling into two mental traps which are not helpful. One is the “If only” syndrome, and the other is the “What if?” syndrome.
Here’s how “If only” might express itself:

“If only I had a husband.”
“If only I had more money.”
“If only my husband would act like…”
“If only my husband (or I) had a good job.”
“If only we had a different house.”
“If only my parents (or his) understood.”
“If only my child would sleep through the night.”
“If only I had a really close friend.”
“If only I didn’t come from such a wounded past.”
“If only I wasn’t stuck in this place.”
“If only I was free of this disease.”
“If only I knew how to handle my teen.”
“If only I didn’t have to do this.”
“If only I didn’t struggle with this.”

Can you identify? …

💡 10 Ways to Teach Children to Be Thankful for Each Other

💡 10 Ways to Teach Children to Be Thankful for Each Other

Long after my husband and I are gone, I want our kids to still have each other.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been diving into Scripture to prepare my heart for a season of thankfulness. I wish gratitude was something that came naturally to me, but it rarely feels that way.
One definition of gratitude I recently read was, “readiness to show appreciation for.” This definition suggests that gratitude is something I can prepare myself for, to get ready to show appreciation for the many blessings around me. …

💰 Investing Time With Your Children: The Challenge of 936 Pennies

💰 Investing Time With Your Children: The Challenge of 936 Pennies

The time we have with our children before they enter into adulthood is limited. We have a responsibility to use it well.
My teeth were clenched as I balanced our frantic toddler on my hip, discreetly stuffing animal crackers into his mouth. It was a desperate attempt to keep him focused and quiet, and it was failing. We had missed his nap-time window, and it was backfiring big-time.
Our 3-year-old stood next to my husband. He stared out into the crowd, …

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