Archive for April 28, 2014

6 Family Priorities to Consider

I remember when my wife was pregnant with our first child. I was excited…and a little bit nervous. I wanted to provide a great family environment and be a “perfect father.” Eighteen years later I know I fell short on the “perfect father” part. No one does this “parenting thing” perfectly. We all make our mistakes. However, that time of nervousness did make me think about the family priorities I wanted to instill in my children. Having values in mind helped cover my imperfections. Rather than dwell on my mistakes, I could pull back to our family values. Chaos ahead signOur family priorities became the foundation on which we could build a healthy family…the roadmap that kept us on the track toward a healthy family life. I realize now that without clearly defined priorities, each family member eventually drifts away and does their own thing…alone, without support or direction. Family values and priorities make up the glue that holds our family together when times get rough.  They are the life-giving “meat-n-potatoes” of our days together. Everything else is just icing on the cake.


Aye, that gives me an idea. Sometimes we focus on the icing. I mean, I love icing, but, if all I eat is icing I get a headache, my stomach hurts, my thoughts become fuzzy, and I get downright mean. I need “meat-n-potatoes” to live a healthy life. Our family needs the “meat-n-potatoes” of values as well. So, where do you focus your attention: on the “meat-n-potato” values and priorities that make for healthy family life? Or, on the sweet icing that leads to headaches, fuzzy thinking, and conflict? Take some time now to consider your family values, the meat-n-potatoes of your family life. To help you do so, consider these ideas. Which do you value more?

  1. Do you value successful performance and achievement or learning resilience and perseverance? Of course we want our children to succeed. More importantly, we want them to learn to persevere in the face of difficulties. We want them to “bounce back” from seeming failures. Learning resilience and perseverance encourages them to try new things and not fear being less than perfect. It encourages them to keep working for improvement. When we focus on performance, our children become afraid to try new things, afraid to fail…afraid to disappoint.
  2. Do you value structured routines or time with family? I believe in having structure based on routines and respect in the home. At the same time, those structures remain secondary to family relationships. If a structure begins to interfere with family relationships, we need to change it. In some cultures this means that bed times, although generally structured, are changed and modified for times of family gatherings.
  3. Do you value the independent person or the person who accepts help and helps others? Our culture tends to emphasize the self-made man, the independent person who has pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. However, do we really want our children to believe they are completely independent?  Don’t we want them to reach out to others and offer assistance when appropriate? Isn’t it beneficial to have the ability to reach out to others when in need? Surely we have to establish a balance in this area.
  4. Do you value getting great grades or becoming a well-rounded, socially adept, and hard-working person? When your child is 30, no one will remember whether they got a “C” or an “A” in Physics. What will really pay off when they are 30 is that they learned to work hard for the best grade they could earn. And social skills will most likely have a greater influence on their long-time work success than their high school GPA. So, we may want our children to develop a well-rounded education that included academics, social activities, and a variety of interests.
  5. Do you value getting the athletic scholarship or learning self-discipline, humility,To live by and teamwork? We love to see our children score the winning touchdown, block the shot to save the game, or outmaneuver their opponent to move the ball down field. It is exciting. But we have to face the facts…only a very small percentage of excellent high school athletes actually earn a living playing their sport. On the other hand, athletic practice and competition is an excellent arena to learn self-discipline, teamwork, how to bounce back after a failure, and how to lose (and win) with grace and humility.  Which will you emphasize?
  6. Do you value your reputation or your child’s character? It is easy to get caught up in our children’s behavior…to believe their successes and failures are a reflection on us. We push them to achieve on the sport’s field or earn high academic honors or get the star role in the musical or band…all for the parental bragging rights. Sure we are going to be proud of our children’s achievements…but won’t we be even more proud to witness our children’s character of humility, integrity, and selflessness toward others!


There are many other areas of priority to consider, but these six represent an excellent starting point. Take some time to think about these priorities. What do you want for your family? How will you model these priorities for your family? What practical steps will you take to assure that you and your family live these values over time? It takes some thought…and then some effort…but the long term returns are a celebrating family filled with honor and grace!

All Parents Fail Without This Ingredient

A young parent asked me to describe ways to help her 12-year-old daughter become less self-centered, more giving, and more compassionate. She asked, “What if we feed the Paper chain family protected in cupped handshomeless one day so she can see how good she has it?” and “Maybe she should give some of her toys to more needy children…would that help?” This mother had good intentions. She wanted her daughter to grow in happiness, humility, and generosity. However, she needed to think about a couple things. First, she needed to remember the less fortunate are not a tool for our goals. People who have needs are, first and foremost, people like you and me. Of course, when I mentioned this, she agreed. She had not intended to make it sound like she was using the needy to help her daughter. She truly had a desire to help others and share her love, time, and wealth. Still, she was missing one other important ingredient.


She was missing one of the most important ingredients of effective parenting. Without this one ingredient, anything a parent does will prove ineffective. Parents need this ingredient for a child to learn and grow. What is this ingredient? Consistency! That’s right. Effective parenting demands consistency over time. Reaching out one time to those who are less fortunately will only be an event. It will have little to no lasting impact. The sights and smells, feelings and sounds of that day will fade away and become a distant memory. However, if you and your children consistently engage in volunteer work, your children will come to understand the benefit of helping others. They will begin to experience the joy of sacrificial giving and humbly accept their own fortune along with the responsibility to help others.


Consistency is important in other areas of parenting as well. For instance, discipline must be consistent over time in order to prove effective in helping children internalize values and move toward becoming self-disciplined adults. For children to grow into confident young adults, they need to have experienced consistent love over the years of their childhood and adolescence. Consistent teaching allows children to learn how to care for themselves and keep their home. The areas in which consistency are essential goes on, but you get the idea.  We teach our children nothing when we do any parenting tasks only one time. Model these skills over time, teach them consistently throughout childhood, and your children will grow into mature young adults. Yes indeed, consistency is an essential ingredient for successful parenting…and it begins today!

Family Date Night Tip: Do Not Text and Date!

Let me say I believe in scheduling regular date nights with your spouse and children. Having a date night with your spouse will truly boost your marital happiness. The quality time and intimate conversation shared on a date will enhance your marital intimacy. And, regular “date nights” with your children will also improve family relationships. Spending one-on-one time with each child while engaged in a mutually enjoyable activity, builds relationship, opens conversation, and even encourages your children’s positive self-image. But, I have one warning to offer: DO NOT TEXT and DATE! Texting while dating is dangerous. Texting while dating kills intimacy. Let me explain.

Modern mobile phones

Researchers from the University of Essex measured the impact of having a visible cell phone on the development of intimacy.  To do this, they put participants into dyads, had them leave all their personal belongings in one room, and then led them into another room to have a conversation. Each person in the dyad sat on a comfortable chair. A coffee table sat next to the chairs; and, on the coffee table was a book. For half the pairs, a random cell phone was placed on the book. The other half did not have a cell phone in the room. After a ten-minute conversation, participants completed a questionnaire assessing relationship quality and emotional sensitivity. The results: dyads in which the cell phone rested on the table reported lower relationship quality and less closeness with their partner. The mere presence of a cell phone had hindered their relational intimacy.


The researchers took this experiment one step further. They conducted a follow-up study using a similar format. The only difference was the addition of two levels of meaningful conversation.  Half the group discussed a casual topic (your thoughts and feelings about plastic Christmas trees) and half the group discussed a personally meaningful topic (your most personally meaningful event over the last year). This study revealed that the presence of a cell phone significantly reduced relationship quality, partner trust, and partner empathy only during meaningful conversation.


This research suggests that just having a cell phone in sight during personal interactions hinders the development of closeness and trust. It reduces each person’s sense of being understood by the other, especially if you are trying to have a meaningful and intimate conversation. The phone in these experiments did not belong to either participant. It merely sat unobtrusively, and even out of conscious awareness according to questionnaire answers, on the table. Yet the power of that cell phone to 1) bring the larger world into our awareness, 2) to orient us to the possibility of what might be happening outside our immediate interaction, 3) to raise the possibility in our mind that news from the “outside” could interrupt our date, and 4) to remind us that we might be missing something, interferes with our date, hinders our relationship, limits our sense of closeness, and kills intimacy!


Put that altogether and learn an important lesson: DON’T TEXT and DATE! Go out with your spouse. Enjoy one-on-one time with your kids. Seek intimate moments and meaningful conversation. Pursue quality times of fun and celebration. But, by all means, put the cell phone on silence and leave it in your purse. Hide it in your coat pocket. Leave it in your car. Forget about the cell phone and enjoy your family. You’ll find conversations deepen, connections grow stronger, and laughter booms louder without a cell phone present. DON’T TEXT and DATE!

Put Your Children First…Really?

Children are so important. I know it is an overused statement, but children are our future…and our present. Our children are change agents…in fact they changed our lives simply by entering into our world. They shaped our sleep patterns, eating habits, and priorities. We changed our schedule, our speech, our interests, and our activities in response to our children. We made sacrifices for our children. We wore that old ragged coat for another year in order to give our children a new and warmer coat. We choked down vegetables to Exhausted Mommodel healthy eating in hopes our children would follow suit. We make most sacrifices quietly. We do not lecture our children on the sacrifices we made…and it is better that way. Yes, children are important but (and this is a big but)…. if we put our relationship with our children above all other relationships or make our children aware of every sacrifice we make for them, we do our children a great disservice.


Putting our children above all other relationships places an expectation on our children that they are unable to fulfill. Children cannot become the relationship that brings us solace, intimacy, or status. We need other relationships to provide those needs…important relationships like our marriage.


By making our relationship with our children the most important relationship, we are implicitly asking them to fulfill our need for intimacy and friendship. This responsibility, however subtle it is, places a burden on them that they are not emotionally prepared to handle. They do not need us to be their friend; nor should we rely on them for our friendship. Instead, they need us to guide, teach, discipline, and protect them. Seek intimacy in your marriage. Invest in your marriage to satisfy your need for deeper intimacy. Nurture adult friendships to satisfy your need for quality friendships.


If our children take precedent over all other relationships, our children begin to feel as though our reputation and status rests on their shoulders. This places a heavy weight on them, an undue pressure to achieve and perform. When we make our children the focus of our life and our esteem, we place the burden of potentially “ruining our status” on our children. Not surprisingly, this creates anxiety or fear in them. Rather than place such a burden on your children, develop your relationship with yourself. Nurture your own skills and talents in order to satisfy your need for achievement. Become involved in community activities and services to become known within your community as an individual beyond your children’s parent.


Finding our joy and satisfaction in life only within our relationship to our children places a huge burden on our children. Children are a joy, but they cannot complete our joy; they cannot bring us the satisfaction in life we desire.  They will eventually develop interests of their own, quite possibly different than our interests. They will even move out of our home and develop a life of their own…sooner than we like to think. We have to develop our own interests and relationships to bring us satisfaction in life. Nurture your marriage, your adult friendships, your interests…your own life in order to find joy and satisfaction.


Children definitely add richness to our lives. They hold an important place in our life and in our own development. However, they cannot be the “end all” for our life. They cannot fulfill our every desire, elevate our status, or bring us satisfaction, joy, and intimacy. We are responsible for meeting those needs. And, when we do those things independently, we teach our children to do the same…and we watch their lives blossom. What greater joy than that?

Jesus Did It For His Family. Will You?

way to the GodThe religious leaders had determined to kill Jesus several months ago, right after He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:53). Months before that, Jesus had begun telling His disciples that He would be crucified and buried. Now the time had come. The leaders had paid a traitor to identify Jesus in the garden. They had arrested the Son of God and tortured Him in preparation for His crucifixion. More than enough time had elapsed for Jesus to grow bitter in response to the constant traps, manipulation, and name-calling; but, He did not. He could have allowed resentment to rise up in His heart in response to the lies, the mockery of a trial, and the total disregard for His life; but, He did not. When they mocked Him, beat Him, and spit on Him, He could have blown up in a righteous rage, called down ten thousand angels to exact a righteous judgment and stood in victory over the defeated rubble; but, He did not. Instead, Jesus, an innocent, appeared to be broken before His accusers—beaten and bloodied, surprisingly humbly, and silent.


We would understand it and even been sympathetic if He had muttered curses at the people who watched Him carry His cross; but, He did not.  He could have cried out against the character of those contributing to His death, cast an angry glare at those yelling hateful names and cursing epithets at Him; but, He did not. I would have expected somebody in His shoes to harbor a silent desire, for revenge and carefully contemplate how to execute a host of malicious acts upon His enemies after His resurrection…but, He did not!


No, Jesus did not respond with anger, wrath, bitterness, or harshness. Instead, He revealed kindness and compassion. Rather than utter threats, His speech revealed kindness and truth to the one man who had the power to crucify Him (John 19:11). When soldiers beat him, He said nothing. He simply accepted their hate and committed Himself to “the one who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). When a convicted criminal recognized the justice of his own punishment and repented, Jesus responded from a tender heart of compassion and promised him, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). As Jesus’ mother stood nearby weeping in the arms of a disciple, Jesus did not think of His own pain and isolation but offered words of comfort and care to His mother—”Woman, behold your son” and to His disciple, “Behold your mother.” In the midst of personal pain and suffering, He saw the pain in His mother’s heart. He reached out to her in compassion and assured her needs would be met. Jesus even looked with compassion at the crowd that mocked Him and spat upon Him; and, rather than condemning their actions He prayed for their forgiveness: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

cross against the sky

Even while enduring the humiliation, pain, and despair of crucifixion, Jesus acted in way that put flesh and blood to Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”


He gave us an example of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to follow in our own lives. He showed us how to do it under the worst of circumstance…during the absolutely worse day of anyone’s life! Following this example begins in the home…in relation to our spouse and our children. Just as Christ showed us kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, we need to show our family kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.  You will have days that seem to go from bad to worse in your family. Your family will have disagreements and arguments in which you or some other family member will make harsh comments. A curse word may slip out. Bitterness may threaten to rise up in your heart or anger lash out in your speech. Temptations to say something harsh about your spouse’s character or your children’s intention will arise. Your children may even slander your character. This is the perfect time to follow Christ’s example…to “be kind and compassionate…forgiving…” Jesus did it for His family. Will you?

Parents Say the Darndest Things

We all know that kids say the darnedest things; but parents do too. Have you ever really listened to parents? Have you ever listened to yourself? Sometimes we make ridiculous comments…comments that are really nonsense. Check out these statements, statements I have heard really good, loving parents say to their children in the midst of frustration. I remember saying many of them myself.

  1. Furious emoticon“We don’t yell in this house!” I yelled this one up the stairs, trying to say it loud enough to be heard over my kids…go figure. Do we yell…or don’t we?
  2. “Close the door. Were you raised in a barn?” Really…you don’t know the answer to that one? I know the answer to that question before I ask it. After all, I raised my children in my home.
  3. “You better wipe that smile off your face before I do it for you!” That statement is a sure sign that, in spite of my anger, the whole situation is actually kind of humorous. Rather than smile and laugh about it, I try to recoup my sense of dignity with a nonsensical statement.
  4. “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” What? If my child is crying maybe they already have something to cry about. Remember, they are still thinking like a kid, not an adult. What seems like a simple thing to an adult can feel overwhelming to a child.
  5. “Don’t get smart with me.”  Now that is a smart statement. We encourage our children to attend school, acquire knowledge, and utilize that knowledge in everyday life…except when it comes to explaining to us the reasons for their disagreement.
  6. “I can turn this car around….” Wait a second. We just spent a week packing suitcases for vacation and half a day packing it into a car. We have spent a small fortune on reservations for a nice family vacation. Are we really going to turn the car around? Let’s be real.
  7. “You better wipe that smirk off your face before it freezes that way.” Well, maybe this one carries some truth. As I journey through my fifties I do see my face taking on the shape and wrinkles of my most common facial expressions; but the warning is a little too distant to mean much to a child.
  8. “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Probably not. But, if they were stopping for ice cream after school, I might do that…even without permission. If our children made an extreme statement like this one, we would probably tell them statement #5.


You may be wondering why I even bring these statements up. First, I have made statements like this…and found them ineffective, useless, and nonsensical. So, I hope you don’t mind if I use this moment to offer my confession and ask your absolution. Second, I want to offer five sayings to help us avoid making useless statements in the future.

  1. Education School Boy Thinking on White“Think before you speak” (one of those useful statements my parents told me). What do we want our children to learn? What do we want to teach them? Let’s make sure that what we say and how we say it will actually teach them the lessons we want them to learn.
  2. “You get more flies with honey than vinegar” (hmm…maybe our parents had more useful sayings than I originally thought). Our children will listen better and learn more quickly when we speak to them with respect…when we honor their intelligence and common sense.
  3. “Say what you mean and mean what you say” (like Horton, the famous elephant on Whoville) and “Don’t make idle threats.” Children learn very quickly whether we mean what we say or not. If they learn we are simply “making an idle threat,” they will not respond. Let your word be true. Only say what you mean. Only threaten consequences you are willing to enforce. Our children will learn to listen and respond better as a result.
  4. “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.” Sometimes kids are just being kids. A teen is going to struggle with peer pressure (so do adults) and a preschooler is likely to cry about things we consider silly. Although these issues seem less important to us, they are significant issues to a child of that age.
  5. Sometimes “all you need is love” (thank you Beatles). Our children often don’t need a quippy response or a sarcastic remark; they need a little love and compassion. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the most loving response is one of discipline. But, discipline offered in an attitude of love goes a lot further than discipline offered with an angry or sarcastic remark. And, sometimes our children need a hug more than a silly remark…so refer back to #1 and respond appropriately.

The Absolutely Essential Battle for Successful Parents

I’m sure you have heard someone say “You have to pick your battles” when it comes to parenting. It’s true. Sometimes it’s not worth the battle to make our children wear matching socks and tie their shoes when we have to wage battle to make them wear modest clothes. We do not want to force a victory in the small battles only to harm our parent-child relationship and lose the greater battle for maturity. Some battles just aren’t worth fighting. Of course, other battles are definitely worth the fight. Some battles must be won if we are to help our children become mature adults. Ironically, the most essential and difficult battle that successful parents wage has nothing to do with our children’s behavior.  No, the most difficult battle we encounter as parents involves a far more alarming enemy—ourselves. That’s right. military policeSuccessful parents battle with an internal enemy. We come face to face with the enemy of our own impatience. We battle to overcome our impatience while repeatedly addressing the same problem behaviors over and over again (wait a second, was that repetitive?). We battle our impatience early in our parenting career by watching the same shows and movies time after time after time during our children’s preschool years.  We continue to battle impatience by changing our expectations to match our child’s developmental abilities and accepting that part of our duty as parents is to continually repeat requests, household expectations, and simple routines.


We also wage war with our self-centered desires. Our self-centeredness raises its ugly head when we demand everyone watch “my TV show” or when we demand that our children enjoy the activities “we” enjoy. Perhaps the most dangerous attack of self-centeredness comes when we expect our children to promote our status as a “good parent” who has a “good kid,” a “sport’s star,” a “smart kid,” or an “excellent musician” and got into a “good college” with a “good scholarship” as a result.  In our self-centeredness, we might expect our children to promote our status by “never throwing a tantrum,” “never getting in trouble,” always being the “perfect child” with multiple talents and an excellent academic standing. But, our children do not have the role of making us look good. Their job is not to make us feel good. Thinking they have that role is the epitome of self-centeredness. We battle our self-centeredness by allowing our children to be children, misbehavior and all. We continue the battle by allowing our children to discover their own interests (even if they are different than our own) and accepting the joy of having wonderfully average children.


Successful parents also look directly into the monstrous eyes of worry and anxiety. We battle to not let our anxieties rule our parenting decisions. If worry informs our parenting and anxiety guides our decisions, we will create a legalistic prison of rules and demands for our children. The rules and demands we develop in response to fear will push grace out of our relationship. Our children will eventually rebel against our rules to assert their independence. So, successful parents look squarely into the eyes of worry and respond with confident grace. We battle against anxieties by nurturing interactive relationships filled with trust. We conquer fears by giving our children meaningful roles in the family and responsibilities to complete various duties independent of us…duties like chores around the house and “age appropriate self-management tasks” like waking up and getting dressed for school independently…from an early age.


Successful parents also battle against the strong pull of self-doubt. Nothing will raise self-doubt like becoming a parent. Every decision seems to raise doubts about our adequacy and wisdom. We battle those doubts by seeking the counsel of others who have already raised children successfully. We surround ourselves with wise counsel and loving support.


We will also find ourselves standing on the edge of awkward situations, thrown into moments of embarrassment while raising our children. You know the times I speak of—times when your child throws a tantrum at the mall or, worse yet, in front of your parents; times when your child stands up in the middle of a crowd and begins to do something inappropriate, even though they do so in innocence; times when your child blurts out an embarrassing comment. The list goes on. We battle that embarrassment with the realization that our children are their own person. Our worth does not rest upon our children’s childish moments…after all, they are children. We need not lose the battle to embarrassment; we simply use those moments of immature behavior as opportunities to calmly and patiently teach our children more appropriately behavior.


Yes, as parents we must pick our battles. And, the most important battle for us to pick is the battle with our selves—our impatience, our self-centeredness, our worry, our self-doubt, and our embarrassment. As our children witness our victory in these battles, they too will grow more mature.

Have Fun, Eat, and…What?!

My family and I just returned from a wonderful visit with my wife’s sister and her husband’s family. While there, we enjoyed dinner with three families. Between these three families, we Family having a big dinner at homehave 6 lovely daughters ranging in age from sophomores in high school to freshman in college. Add three sets of parents and one grandmother to those six young ladies and you have a meal with 13 people around the table. Some would say that number unlucky, but we would disagree. We had a lovely meal. As we enjoyed our meal together, I realized how fortunate we are to have the opportunity for this kind of extended family experience. Everyone was smiling, laughing, and talking. At one point during the preparations, one of our daughters realized we had no bread…a catastrophe! But, 6 creative teen women soon came up with a solution and we enjoyed crescent rolls with dinner. In fact, everyone contributed to the meal—some cooked the main dish, others brought side dishes, and others brought dessert.  Some helped prepare the meal and some helped clean up afterward. While eating dessert we enjoyed several rounds of the game “telephone”—one person whispers a message into the ear of the person next to them. That person whispers it to the next person and so on until it returns to the person who first stated the message. As we laughed about how the message had changed from the beginning to the end of “telephone,” I remembered a study I had read (I know, who thinks about studies in the midst of fun…go figure). Anyway, researchers were exploring where children learned “rare words.” The researchers listed 2,000 rare words and then searched within families to discover where children learn those 2,000 rare words. Only 143 were learned through reading. But, over a thousand (that’s over half) of the words were learned at family mealtimes. Family conversations enhance vocabulary! Sounds like a great headline. As I contemplated that little tidbit of how children learn vocabulary, I realized just how much our family members learned during our wonderful time together. We learned how to cooperate with one another in completing a goal (getting dinner on the table and then cleared off after we ate). We learned how to problem solve (so we could sit in the right places, enjoy crescent rolls, and pass all the food to everyone present). We learned how to interact in a social setting. We learned how to listen carefully, how to join a conversation, and how to excuse ourselves politely. We also learned how to show gratitude and appreciation for gifts given…or simple politeness when someone passes us the gravy. Most important, all this learning was done in a spirit of camaraderie and fun! If you want to learn all these things in your family…and instill each of these values in your children…enjoy meals together as often as you can. Have fun, eat, and become better people all around!

The Story That Will Change Your Family Life!

newly married couple chasing each other in fieldThe TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” communicates a profound family principle in its title. Seriously…the story of how we met our spouse is one of those questions kids really want to know. Actually, it is more than a mere “want to know;” it is a boon, an asset, a huge benefit to children’s emotional health and family life. Research tells us that children who know more about the stories of their family and their family history have a higher self-esteem, a stronger sense of personal control, and a belief that their families function well. They also revealed greater resiliency, bouncing back more easily after stressful events. Adolescents who know more about their family history have a greater sense of self-worth, more self-confidence, and a stronger sense of identity!

Family researchers tell us that children and adolescents who have a greater knowledge of their family story have a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves. They have come together with their family for family meals, family gatherings, and family activities and heard the stories of their family. They have learned about the good times, the hard times, the setbacks, the recoveries, and the successes. Through it all , they learned that they come from “something bigger than myself.” That “something bigger” is a family…a family that sticks together through thick and thin…a family that survives…a family that accepts struggles but bounces back…a family…and not just any family but their family!

So, go ahead and tell your children the story of how you met their mother or father. Tell them about your crazy aunt’s all-encompassing hugs, your grandparents hobbies, your own embarrassing moments, the obstacles your family has overcome, the day they were born, and…the list goes on! While you’re at it, you might tell the “stories” asked about in the research described above. Here are the 20 questions they asked children to see how much of the “family story” they knew.

  • Do you know how your parents met?
  • Do you know where your mother grew up?Father and Bride
  • Do you know where your father grew up?
  • Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
  • Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
  • Do you know where your parents were married?
  • Do you know what went on when you were being born?
  • Do you know the source of your name?
  • Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
  • Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
  • Do you know the person in your family you act the most like?
  • Do you now some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
  • Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
  • Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
  • Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc.)?
  • Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
  • Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
  • Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
  • Do you know the names of the school that your dad went to?
  • Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

One last thing…my wife loves to watch home videos of family. She has the right idea–home movies are a great way to share the story. So, gather the family, make some popcorn, pull up a chair, and watch that baby take her first steps again!