Tag Archive for support

Do You Rob Your Teen of Victory?

Do you rob your teen? Many parents do even though they don’t even know it. Parents rob their teens by “getting in the ring” with them instead of “staying in their corner.” For instance:

  • Father and son smiling for the cameraParents “get in the ring” to protect their teen from the consequences of poor choices. In the process they rob their teen of the opportunity to learn from the consequences of those poor choices.
  • Parents “get in the ring” and stand between their teen and his peers by getting involved in their teen’s Twitter skirmishes or Instagram battles. When parents become over-involved in their teen’s social media ring, they rob him of the chance to learn how to set limits or negotiate relationship stress.
  • Parents “get in the ring” by fixing each and every problem that arises in their teen’s lives, robbing her of the opportunity to learn creative problem solving and time management skills.
  • When their teen doesn’t get the play time she desires, parents “jump in the ring” to fight for their teen’s right to play…and rob her of the right to learn the hard work necessary to earn a spot or how to advocate for themselves.

In each of these instances, parents jump into the ring and rob their teen of the opportunity to become more independent. Their actions steal their teen’s self-confidence by silently shouting an implicit message of their teens’ inadequacy to “fight their own fights” and achieve their own goals. Parents pilfer their teen’s opportunity to learn from mistakes and improve their abilities. They even embezzle their teens’ opportunity to celebrate success and so rob them of even more self-confidence. Getting in the ring is an act of thievery on a parent’s part.

Parents can avoid robbing their teen by staying out of the ring and remaining in their corner instead. Parents who stay in their teens’ corner play a crucial role in their teens’ life, even their life in the ring. Parents in their teens’ corner do four things that provide and empower rather than rob and steal.

  • First, parents in their teen’s corner listen. When teens talk about problems, frustrations, or difficulties, a parent in their corner will listen intently to understand how the situation impacts their teen. They remain present, not to fix and solve but to support and relate. In this way, teens feel heard and understand, accepted and valued.
  • Second, parents in their teen’s corner validate their teens’ experiences. They help their teens label emotions and more clearly define the problem. Understanding the nuances of a problem situation empowers teens. It allows for a deeper understanding of the people involved and the impact of the context. It opens up possibilities for responding.
  • Third, parents in their teens’ corner encourage their teen by acknowledging strengths and resources available. They identify their teens’ internal strengths and abilities as well as external resources which their teens can access. Knowing a parent acknowledges and believes in their abilities empowers teens. It will build their self-confidence to know their parents believe them adequate and resourceful enough to “meet the challenge.”
  • Fourth, parents in their teen’s corner will problem-solve with their teen. Rather than lecture and advise, parents in the corner offer words of wisdom based on years of experience, wise words of guidance. Rather than direct and command, they will ask questions or tell a story based on their own experience that will stimulate their teen to think of a unique response to the current situation.

If you want your teen to mature and grow more independent, get out of the ring. Let them fight their own battles. At the same time, stay firmly entrenched in their corner. Listen, validate, encourage, and problem-solve. You can do it all in the corner and watch them grow in the ring!

The Mighty Power of Kindness for Families

In this time we call our own and in a home very near to our hearts, there rages an epic battle for the families we call our own. This battle rages between those principalities that wield great power in their efforts to tear the family apart and those in the resistance who quietly, on a daily basis, strive to create and maintain the community of honor, grace, and love we call family. This battle will not be won or lost through legal proceedings or in Parents kissing their cute little babydramatic cultural changes. No, the victory for the family rests on the meek and powerful deeds of kindness we share with one another. That’s right. Victory rises up on the shoulders of every kind deed and polite word that draws family members together. Victory comes to the kind! Don’t believe it? Well, let me share ten acts of kindness that strike terror in the heart of powers opposed to families and foretell victory for your family today!

  • Say “thank you” to the person in your family who cooks, does laundry, cleans, puts gas in the car, takes care of your pet, mows the lawn, etc.…. (Learn other phrases of kindness in Family Investment Easy as 1…2…3…)
  • After you say “thank you,” ask that person how you can help them today!
  • Hold the door open for your spouse or children and let them go first.
  • Encourage one another.
  • Smile at one another (I know this is especially hard in the mornings and for teens…but take one for the family.)
  • Compliment one another often. Giving one another compliments will really complement your family.
  • Offer to get a drink for your parents, siblings, spouse, or children. Give it to them with a smile and a twinkle of delight in your eye. When they say “Thank you,” reply with “You’re welcome” or the standard “My pleasure.” (Read The Chick Fil A Family Interaction Model)
  • Do an extra chore around the house, one usually done by a different family member.
  • Give each member of your family a hug and tell them you love them. (Read how to Become a Master Hugger)
  • As a family, do each of these for people outside your family as well. In fact, do each on for the members of your family and those outside your family on a daily basis.


This may sound simplistic. How can we “save the family” by practicing simple kindness on a daily basis? But kindness is powerful. Paul goes so far as to call kindness one of God’s greatest tools in drawing us into an intimate relationship with Him: “Do you think lightly of the riches of God’s kindness and tolerance and patience, knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). If kindness is a powerful tool for God’s victory in our lives, it will surely prove a powerful weapon for victory in the lives of our families. We model our kindness toward family after God’s kindness toward us. As such, simple acts of kindness carry the power to win the battle for the family…and not just any family, your family. With every gentle touch of kindness, you will see intimacy grow. Security and confidence increase. Joy flood into our lives and relationships. With every powerful act of kindness, victory draws near.

Plug In for Family Happiness

We need to plug in to build family happiness. No, I do not mean plug in the TV or the internet. Plugging in to technology won’t bring greater family happiness. In fact, too much technology tends to distract us from family happiness. In order to increase family happiness, we need to plug in to relationships. Positive relationships give us our greatest joy. They enhance our immune system and increase ourFamilies life expectancy. In fact, positive relationships have the same level of health benefit as quitting smoking. Good relationships make us happier, healthier, and stronger. So, if you want a happy family, build stronger relationships within your family and with those outside your family. Here are some practical tips to help you do this.

  • Invest in building a positive relationship with your spouse and children. This investment will demand your time. Invest time in playing with your family. Enjoy doing work together in the yard or house. Volunteer together. Find out what activities your spouse and children enjoy then engage in that activity with them. If they enjoy jogging, take up jogging. Be present at their activities and in their daily life.
  • Participate in activities with another family. Go on a picnic with another family. Have a family over for dinner. Get together for a game night with other families. Go camping with other families. Have fun together. When you engage in activities with other families you build relationships with people in similar circumstances. As a result, you can offer mutual support and encouragement. Other families can provide you with a “reality check” when you feel like the kids are driving you “crazy.” You also find other trusted adults that your children might go to for advice when they don’t come to you. Family friends build family happiness and security.
  • Go on a double date. Studies have shown that “double dating” enhances intimacy. Those who participated in double dates found their attraction to their own spouse grow stronger. In addition, other couples might model desirable behavior for us to emulate or undesirable behavior to avoid. Either way, befriending another couple tends to strengthen our marriages and add joy to our lives. A happy marriage contributes to a happy family. So go on a double date for the sake of your family’s happiness.
  • Get involved in a community with a higher purpose, like church. Children who attended church with their family are more likely to see expressions of love and affection. Parents are more likely to know their children’s social network when they attend church as a family. In addition, involvement in a community creates the opportunity for mutual support and encouragement. Other parents can share their experience of raising children and support us in our efforts to raise healthy children. Creating friendships in a larger community adds support, encouragement, accountability, and positive experiences to family life. All this adds up to a happier family.

Parents, Are You a Slingshot or an Anchor?

Michael Byron, Smith, retired Air Force officer, wrote an excellent blog for the National Fatherhood Institute (click here to read it). In this blog, he wrote: “Families should be slingshots, throwing children into the world prepared for what lies ahead. Unfortunately, the problems of dysfunctional families are like anchors, dragging down their children’s potential….” So, I have to ask: Have you created a family environment that will serve as a slingshot for your children or an anchor? 

Anchor families:

  • Punishment concept.Place unrealistic expectations on their children.
  • Make demeaning, degrading, and discouraging remarks about their children or their children’s activities.
  • Imply greater acceptance of their children only after they have performed to a certain level (good grades, starting team, practiced their instrument, etc.).
  • Punish or demean children for times they experience failure.
  • Offer rude criticisms about their child’s character or performance.
  • Engage in name-calling.
  • Disregard their children’s feelings…or even punishing their children for “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness.
  • Tell or imply they know more about what their children feel, think, or like than their children do themselves.


These behaviors act as anchors around your children’s neck. They weigh your children down, drowning them under the waves of guilt and shame.


Slingshot families, on the other hand:

  • grandfather and granddaughter with computer at homeLearn about the development of children, their children’s development in particular, so they can maintain realistic expectations.
  • Encourage their children.
  • Make sure their children know they are loved even when they fall short of perfection or have a particularly bad day.
  • Teach their children that failure is an opportunity to learn. They encourage determination and healthy persistence.
  • Offer their children constructive criticism in a loving manner.
  • Use “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness as opportunities to grow more intimate with their children.
  • Remain curious about their children’s feelings, thoughts, and interests…using them as touch-points from which to deepen intimacy.


These behaviors serve as slingshots for your children. They help your children develop the skills necessary to navigate the world with courage, confidence, and poise.


So, I ask again. Which one are you—an anchor family or a slingshot family?

Parents, Get Out of the Reaction Rut

Many parents believe that a good punishment will end misbehavior. “If the punishment is military policepowerful enough, children will learn their lesson.” “If we just have enough rules, our children will be good.” Unfortunately, these statements are not true. The key to addressing our children’s misbehavior is NOT punishment. In fact, there is no single key to addressing misbehavior. Addressing misbehavior is actually more like putting a puzzle together…there are many parts to the puzzle and they have to be assembled in the right way to make a complete picture.  One piece of that puzzle is realizing the need to address the before, during, and after phases of behavior.


The Before Phase: We can avoid many incidents of misbehavior simply by planning ahead and preparing our children for upcoming events. We do this naturally with toddlers when we put safety locks on cupboards even before we bring them home from the hospital or remember to take their favorite blanket on our trip to grandma’s house before they even ask about it. As our children grow, we continue to address potential problem areas by establishing routines. For instance, a good bedtime routine can prevent many difficulties that occur around the process of getting our children to bed.  Mealtime routines, morning routines, and cleaning routines all help prevent unwanted behaviors as well as teaching daily life skills. Parents can also prevent unwanted behaviors during the “Before Phase” by talking with their children about “what’s next.” For instance, explaining the purpose of a “store run” as well as the expected behavior can often prevent misbehavior. If there is an especially problematic situation that you consistently run into, you may want to role play that event at home. You can then take a few “trial runs” in which you simply go through the motions of an activity without having to accomplish any particular goal (like going through a grocery store without any intention of buying anything). Practicing behaviors in the Before Phase can prevent many unwanted behaviors and teach desired behaviors at the same time.


The During Phase: No matter how much we plan ahead, our children will still misbehave at times. The key to responding during the event is to intervene rapidly and calmly to redirect the unwanted behavior. Intervene rapidly. Intervene as early in the behavior as you can. Do not let the behavior escalate; intervene early. Intervene calmly. Children follow a parent’s lead. If the parent escalates, the child escalates. If the parent stays calm, there is a greater chance the child will calm.  Redirect the behavior. Rather than simply complain about the misbehavior and tell them to stop, redirect them to another more appropriate behavior. Doing so offers your child a solution to the question, “What can I do then?”

Woman - Tough Rapper

The After Phase: After the misbehavior has stopped and all parties have calmed down, discuss what happened. The After Phase is a wonderful time for teaching. Discuss why the misbehavior is not wanted, restate the expectations and boundaries. Teach your children what other behaviors (appropriate behaviors) they can engage in. An important and often overlooked aspect of teaching appropriate behavior is to set firm limits and clear expectations while showing empathy and compassion for your children’s desires. Help them learn that you empathize with their feelings, wants, and desire, but you also have firm behavioral limits and expectations that need to be met. For instance, you empathize with their anger, but have a clear expectation of appropriate ways to express anger…teach them the expectation. Or, you empathize with their boredom and their desire to run around, but have clear limits on the appropriate places and activities in which running around is allowed…teach them the limits and appropriate activities for the appropriate place.


Responding to misbehavior in the Before Phase, the During Phase, and the After Phase will help you get out of the rut of reacting to misbehavior and into the joy of teaching the behavior you desire for your children.

Grow Your Children’s Dream

Our children have amazing potential. They have special abilities and talents that make them unique. As they grow, those strengths, abilities, and talents begin to take shape and grow into hopes and dreams. As parents, our work is to nurture those dreams. How can we nurture our children’s hopes and dreams? How can we help our children reach their full potential? In many ways, nurturing our children’s dreams is like nurturing a garden.
First, we have to work the soil. We want to make sure the soil of our children’s dream is fertile and filled with nutrients. We work to develop and establish an environment that will support and nourish the seeds of our children’s dreams. To do so, we have to honor their dream, matching it with the soil of their God-given abilities and talents. We avoid forcing them to live out our expectations and dreams which would be like trying to grow a good seed (their dream) in the wrong soil (our dreams). We, as parents, become students of our children to discover their God-given ability and nurture those abilities, encouraging them to meet the potential God has given them. Let me say again, we must honor their dream, the dream that matches their God-given strengths, talents, and potential…not ours. We work the soil of their lives to nurture their God-given talents to grow their dreams…not ours. In the process of preparing the soil, we utilize generous portions of acceptance, a potent fertilizer of dreams. Assure that your children know that you accept and appreciate their unique abilities and preferences. This is an important step in nurturing your children’s dreams. 
Dreams also grow best in a warm climate that provides safety and security. Parents nurture dreams by maintaining a home that instills a sense of safety and security for their children. A climate of safety and security flows out of parental availability, attentiveness, and emotional connection. In addition, a regular sprinkling of encouragement and sincere appreciation keeps the soil moist and waters the seeds of our children’s dreams.
Second, we have to nurture the sprouts that begin to grow. Dreams do not produce fruit overnight. They sprout and grow through the seasons of childhood and adolescence. Initially, dreams are fragile. We must be careful not to drown them with an overabundance of activity or by pushing them to grow beyond their developmental ability. We have to protect our children’s dreams from predators and negative influences. For instance, other people may downplay or discourage our children’s dreams. Peers may ridicule or belittle those dreams. We need to counteract those naysayers with a generous supply of encouragement, support, and love.
As those dreams begin to grow, we can help our children refine their dream, thinning out those distractions that do not match their unique skills and abilities. This is a gentle and delicate process. We move carefully and gently to encourage our children to find their niche while being careful to not disrupt the roots of healthy hopes and dreams that grow beneath the surface. This demands careful and loving pruning of offshoots as our children continue to grow. Loving discipline will help train the branches of our children’s dreams to grow tall and strong, able to bear the fruit of their labors.
Keeps these steps in mind and your children’s dreams will blossom, bringing great joy to you and your child.

5 Ways to Guard the Honor of Your Spouse & Children

The current of our society has become more casual, relaxed, and informal. Sometimes, this casualness manifests itself in a lack of politeness. The current grows stronger as our sense of familiarity empties into the pool of forward and presumptuous behavior. We wash over the levies of social limits with insolence and rude interactions. The current of society floods into our families as we dishonor family members by making smart remarks or brash statements, privately or in the company of others. In the midst of this flood of casual impoliteness, we have lost sight of our duty to guard one another’s honor. When we leave the honor of family members unguarded, our spouse becomes vulnerable to disrespect; our children to humiliation; and our parents to disgrace. As a family, we need to stop the flood waters of dishonor from coming into our homes. We need to guard one another’s honor. How do we guard each family member’s honor? Here are five ways I have thought of.
     ·         Remember your place. It is so easy to get caught up in my own life…my worries, my needs, my schedule, my…my…my…. However, when it comes to family (as in life), it’s not all about “me.” We all have an Authority over us; and, the best authorities are those who humble themselves to serve. In other words, we are not our own. We belong to our family and our family belongs to us. Our place is in the midst of that family, meeting the needs of other family members. In fact, family is one of the true training grounds for selfless humility and submission…for each one of us. So, guard the honor of family members by encouraging them. Lift them up. Serve one another and keep one another in mind. Guard one another’s honor by remembering your place in the family and under God.
     ·         Respect one another. I have always found it interesting that I more easily become rude, disrespectful and angry at family (those people I love the most) than anyone else. If you find yourself in the same predicament, do what I have to do: remind yourself to treat family members with the same respect and care that you show toward the guests you invite into your home. Be polite. Say thank you and please. Open a door to let the other person go through first. In other words, guard the honor of your family members by treating them with the utmost respect.
     ·         Correct with love. Everyone makes mistakes. We all to learn and grow. Correction and discipline help us grow. To guard one another’s honor, we discipline in love. Speak the truth in love. Correct in love. Make sure your family knows that you love them, even when you discipline them. When we discipline in love, we guard honor. There is no name-calling, no threats, no harsh criticism, and no abuse. Instead, discipline done in love involves teaching and instructing…even if it is firm, intense, very serious, and even loud. We guard one another’s honor by holding up a higher standard for behavior and insisting on that standard for the love of family. We honor one another with loving correction.
     ·         Support one another. Life is hard…at any age. From fearing the boogie man or the monster in the closet…to learning how to assess a person who I might want to date…to determining my career…to raising a child…to finding my place in the world as an aging retiree, life is hard. Throughout these hardships, we need support from loved ones. In fact, we guard one another’s honor when we support one another in decision making, in navigating life’s struggles, in times of hardship, and in celebration of successes. Guard your family honor by offering consistent, loving support.
     ·         Pray for one another. I look back on my life and realize how often God has protected me and blessed me. And, I begin to realize how much of His blessing has come in response to the prayers that family members and friends have made for me. Honor your family members by praying for them. Pray for them in silence. Pray for them audibly. Let your family hear you pray for them. Pray for their health, their wisdom, their future spouses, their hopes and dreams, their…everything. In praying for your spouse and children you guard their honor and call on God to guard their honor as well!
That is only 5 ways to guard the honor of your spouse and children. What are some things you have done to guard the honor of your spouse and children? Write them in the comment section below or on FACEBOOK.

How Do You Use Words?

Lynn came into my office in tears. After she described her day, I understood. Just listen to the comments she heard throughout the day:
“Are you going to eat all that? You really have to watch your figure you know.”
“You can’t wear that shirt. It shows too much mid-rift. Are you trying to look easy?”
“You forgot your homework again. You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached”
“You never listen to me.
“How could you go out? You don’t care about us at all…you are so selfish!”
“You always have an excuse. Well, I don’t need your excuses… Just do it.” 
“Having a bad hair day, are we?”
“Those pants don’t go with that shirt.”
“You run funny.”
“Sit down and shut up.”
The list goes on. Comments made by friends, family members, and teachers in a variety of situations…not one encouraging or constructive word. No wonder she was upset. Her friends, family members, and teachers had hurled words at her like stones, crushing her heart and mind under the weight of discouragement and belittling comments. Our homes need to provide a place of shelter from the verbal barrage of ridicule and discouragement. An honor-filled family offers a safe haven from the word bullets of discouragement that pierce our hearts and minds.
Encourage Your Spouse identifies five ways to encourage…not just your spouse but your whole family. Let’s look at each one in detail.
·         Inspire with Hope: Comments such as “You’re doing a great job” or “You are becoming such a nice young lady” inspire us with hope for tomorrow. Comments that provide hope also encourage. Hope gives us strength to carry on, even when times are rough. So, encourage with comments that inspire hope and help your family look toward a positive future.
·         Fortify with Faith: We can build one another up with comments that communicate “I believe in you.” For instance, telling a child “I know it’s hard, but you can do it. Let me know if you need some help” lets them know you have faith in their ability. Even establishing an encouraging expectation can build up a realization that you have faith in them. For instance, saying “I know you can do better than that on your homework” when you know they only did a half-hearted job communicates that you have faith in a greater ability than they exhibited. Encourage family members to live up to their ability by using kind, encouraging words.
·         Foster with Love: We can use encouraging words of love to nurture family members and develop positive character. Let family members know the depth of your love by expressing appreciation for their deeds and character, joy over their presence in our lives, and gratitude for their contribution to your life. Let your love encourage positive growth in their lives as well. 
·         Uplift with Prayer: It is so very encouraging to know that family members pray for you…that they hold you, your interests, and your struggles in mind and bring them before God for His assistance. Let family members know you pray for them. Ask them how you can pray for them. Lift them up in vocal prayer before meals or at bedtime. Let them hear you pray for them. Share your own prayer requests with family as well. Together you can lift one another up in prayer.
·         Support with Actions: Use your actions to express your love and support for their lives. Encourage family members by serving them, communicating that they are valuable enough to serve. Show an interest in their interests, become involved in their life’s pursuit, and support their dreams with positive action. These actions encourage others by expressing value and love.
Lynn’s day would have gone very differently had she come into my office after a day of receiving encouraging messages. Each of us plays a role in “making” or “breaking” the day of our family members. So, use your words to encourage rather than discourage, to lift up rather than pull down, to build rather than crush.

My Michelangelo

Michelangelo is quoted as saying, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” I love that quote. Researchers describe a Michelangelo effect between spouses when one spouse brings out the best, the angel, in the other. My wife is my Michelangelo. Other people look at me and see a slab of rock; but she sees something more. She looks into that slab of rock and sees a statue waiting to take shape, dreams and aspirations waiting to emerge, an ideal self waiting to be set free. At times, I think she believes I am more like that ideal person than I really am. She compliments me like I’ve already achieved more of my ideal than I really have. Not only does she see and believe in my ideals and dreams, she actively helps me reach for them. She supports me and even assists me in reaching my goals. All the while, she talks about how much she enjoys doing things with me. 

Don’t get me wrong. She still recognizes my limits and shortcomings. In many ways, she compensates for them. When I feel frustrated with so much bureaucracy, she handles it. When I become overwhelmed with all that needs done, she takes some of the burden. Sometimes I become obsessed with worry and she “talks sense to me.” Other times I prepare to jump head first into the mix and she brings needed caution and forethought. All the while, she encourages and compliments.

Yes, my wife is my Michelangelo. She has taken a slab of stone and helped find the statue inside. She did not decide what statue she thought I should become. Instead, she realized the ideal self I wanted to become and encouraged that ideal. She recognized my dreams, accepted those dreams, and supported me in reaching for those dreams. In the process, she lovingly chisels away at the fears and inhibitions that interfere with my dreams. She helps add shape and substance to my dreams and makes me a better person for it. I only hope I can do the same for her.

So, to my wife I say: “Thank you for being the Michelangelo to my slab of marble. Thank you for honoring me enough to envision the ‘angel in the marble’ and patiently, lovingly helping to ‘set him free.'”

5 Christmas Gifts Your Family Will Love

Every Christmas I have the same dilemma-what gifts do I give to my family? Like an episode of Hawaii Five-O, I begin an investigation to discover the perfect gift. Moving from person to person and place to place I make quiet observations and ask not-so-subtle questions in search of a gift that is desired, needed, and useful at the same time. This year I think I hit the jackpot. My investigations have uncovered 5 gifts, all needed and desired, that family members will love and enjoy all year.

Eat dinner with your family as often as possible. Turn off the TV, don’t answer the phone, gather around the table, and share a meal together. Eating as a family keeps the doors of communication open. In addition, teens that eat frequently with their family are three-and-a half times less likely to abuse illegal drugs. Girls who eat with the family five or more times a week are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits. And, eating together can be fun. You can talk about the day, make plans for upcoming events, joke around, share funny stories and memories, and learn about one another’s interests. Eating together is a great gift with great benefits for the whole family.

Have a regular date night with your spouse. The strength of your marriage sets the standard for honor, grace, and celebration within the whole family. How we treat our spouse influences the intimacy and respect shared among the whole family. When children see their parents going on a dates and genuinely expressing love to one another, they feel safer and more secure. So, a great gift to your family is to make your marriage strong. A regular date night with your spouse gives you the opportunity to talk, have fun, and grow more intimate. It tells the whole family that relationships are important.

Have family fun nights at least two times a month. Get together with your family for an evening of fun and games. Families love this gift. And, it provides the opportunity to teach important social skills, academic skills, and family values in the midst of laughter and play. I know I learn better when I’m having fun. Family fun nights provide the added benefit of building closer family ties. In fact, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than you can in a year of conversation” (Plato). All this while engaging in a fun, relaxing activity.

Encourage each family member in public and private forums. Encouragement expresses your love for that person. Even God recognized and encouraged His Son. The Gospels tell us of three instances in which God acknowledging and encouraging His Son in a very public manner. Encouraging our family members will help build their self-confidence, confirm your loyal alliance, boost their know-how, and strengthen your relationship. Gifts don’t get any better than this.

Take a genuine interest in what interests each family member. This gift is often overlooked, but is still a tremendous gift. Take the time to learn about something that interests your family member. If they enjoy music, learn about the music they like. If they enjoy cooking, learn about cooking and cook with them. If they enjoy the ballet, learn about the ballet and go watch a ballet with them. Whatever the interest, make a genuine investment in learning about that topic…not because the topic interests you but because your family member interests you. This gift will enrich you, your family, and your relationship for years to come.

Wrapping these ideas in a homemade coupon book that includes a coupon for each of these gifts will bring a smile to anyone’s face. It will definitely provide a gift your family will enjoy for years to come.

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