Summer break is undoubtedly a great time to relax and vacation, but it’s also the perfect season to purposely teach your kids the life skills that will serve them well today and when they leave your home one day for adulthood.

Whether you have toddlers or teens, take the time over the summer months to teach your kids the life skills they may be lacking. During a busy school year, we sometimes don’t have an opportunity to teach our sons and daughters the crucial things they need to know.

Here are 11 life skills to teach your child this summer and beyond

1. Make a bed

Start simple. “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never be able to do the big things right. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed,” said Naval Admiral William H. McRaven in his University of Texas at Austin 2014 commencement address.

kids-make-bed

Teach your kids to start each day by making their bed, reinforcing the fact that little things matter.

READ: WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR BED

2. Write and send mail

In this digital age we are raising kids in, we forget to teach our sons and daughters the basic skills of addressing an envelope properly or where to place the postage stamp. Do your kids know how much stamps cost or where to buy them? A perfect summer field trip might be to the post office.

kids-send-summer-postcards

This summer, have your son or daughter send postcards to their grandparents or other loved ones when you are traveling or mail them from your hometown. What thank you notes need to be written and mailed off to family and friends?

READ: 5 REASONS YOUR KIDS SHOULD WRITE THANK YOU NOTES

3. Pack their camp or travel bags

Whether it’s their sports bag or camp duffle, our sons and daughters need to learn to pack their bags with the contents they need without our help. If your child is younger, you may need to make a checklist for them to follow until they are in the habit of gathering everything by themselves. Older kids can make a list for themselves if need be.

The more you hold your kids responsible for their tasks, the more accountable they will become. 

READ: 5 REASONS TO MAKE SUMMER CAMP A PART OF YOUR FAMILY PLAN

4. Tip wait staff

Most parents know to teach their children proper restaurant etiquette- to look at the server in the eye and order their meals for themselves while politely using their manners.

But, many times, we forget to teach our children how to tip. When you eat out this summer, take the time to show your older children how to figure 15%-20% of the bill so they can confidently tip the server when they are out to eat with friends or on a date one day.

5. Make money

If our children drive a car, carry around an iPhone with a data plan, or wear name-brand clothing and shoes, they undoubtedly need to contribute to paying for these privileges.

Even if we can afford a comfortable lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that we should hinder our child from learning the valuable life skills of working and earning money. 

Can you come alongside your son or daughter and help them resell things online or start a business washing windows or mowing lawns? I’m also a big advocate of having teens get summer jobs in the community- at local restaurants and retailers like we used to do back in the day. 

READ: WHY MY TEENS WILL SPEND THE SUMMER WORKING IN A RESTAURANT

6. Manage money

If our children are going to make money, they need to learn to manage it.

Help your child open a bank account eventually attached to a checkbook or debit card. Teach them how to go into a bank branch and talk to the teller and help them manage their account online.

If your child isn’t old enough to work yet, another way for them to learn to manage money is by giving them a consistent monthly allowance. Don’t pay your child for their performance or for doing chores. But instead, provide them with an allowance for being a valuable part of your family.

READ: 5 TIPS TO GIVING KIDS AN ALLOWANCE

7. Contribute to the household

Everyone in our home is expected to pitch in, for the good of the family team, without getting paid a stipend for it. If you live in the house, you get to help take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, help with meals, and clean this or scrub that.

raise-Contributors-kids-chores

Your child should have repetitive contributing work that benefits the good of the entire household and not just responsibility for caring for their stuff.

8. Fill out paperwork

Come alongside your tweens and teens and begin teaching them how to fill out their camp, sports, and medical paperwork to the best of their ability now so that they are comfortable filling out their job and college applications one day. 

Filling out paperwork is a pain that none of us enjoy, but it’s a fact of life that our older children can certainly handle.

READ: 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO TEACH YOUR HIGH SCHOOLER BEFORE THEY GO TO COLLEGE

9. Know pertinent information

I was driving my daughter’s friend home, and she couldn’t tell me where she lived. The 14-year-old knew her address but couldn’t tell me the major crossroads near her house. Her cell phone was dead, and she didn’t know her Dad’s phone number either.

The adult kindly driving our child home shouldn’t need a data plan to get them there. Our child should know parents’ phone numbers and how to direct an adult to the vicinity of their home without an app. Teach your son or daughter the major crossroads near your home and how to navigate the local area using their brain instead of a device.

10. Make a meal

The summer season is a perfect time to teach our sons and daughters how to navigate the kitchen.

Our younger children can make and pack their lunches for camp, while our older ones can come alongside us and learn to cook dinners for the entire family once in a while. It’s also essential to take the time to teach your child how to navigate the grocery store and shop smart.

Grab my Kitchen and Summer Skills Lists in my ‘How to Create A Summer of Significance in 2021 Printable Pack HERE!

11. Laundry from start to finish

  Teach your child the task of doing their laundry from start to finish.

kids-laundry-chores

  “Very few people have a washing machine that’s more complicated than a tablet. If they can work an iPad, they can do laundry,” said childhood expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, whose eight-year-old son made a YouTube video teaching college students how to do laundry.

Take the time this summer to teach your child to do their laundry from start to finish. 

READ: 8 THINGS YOU SHOULD STOP DOING FOR YOUR TEEN

We must remember that one of our main goals as a parent is to teach our children what they will need to know when they leave our home for adulthood. Use summer break as an opportunity to strengthen your son or daughter’s set of life skills.

What life skills will you be striving to teach your child this summer?

Unplug-Technology-Family-Device-Holder

I’ve never been more thankful for technology than I am in 2020. Our devices and connection to the internet allow us regular communication with our college kids and loved ones around the country.

Yet, this same technology that connects us to the vast world also has the power to disconnect us in our own homes if we’re not careful.

It’s been a struggle for me to watch my teenagers in front of screens more often than usual during this pandemic.

Not only have my teens been stuck schooling from a screen, but they’re turning to their devices more often than usual in their downtime too. We certainly can’t blame them, yet we know that the excessive screen use in our home isn’t healthy.

So, what do we parents do?

Here are 5 Ways to Set Your Family up for Screen-Time Success During this Pandemic and Beyond

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6-Ways-to-Make-Your-Child-Feel-Loved this School Year

As parents of school-aged kids, many things feel uncertain and out of control right now heading into a new school year.

We have little control over whether our kids get to go to the classroom right now or if they have to be schooled virtually from our kitchen table.

One choice we do have, despite our circumstances, is the ability to make our child feel especially loved in our home this school year and beyond.

6-Ways-to-Make-Your-Child-Feel-Loved this School Year

1. Light a Candle of Honor

One of our favorite family dinner traditions we regularly did around our dinner table when our kids were younger was the Candle of Honor.

Each night (or whenever you want), choose one child (or adult) to honor because of a positive character trait they showed or something they accomplished that day. Light a candle in front of your honoree, acknowledge why you chose them before the meal, and let them blow the flame out while everyone gives them a round of applause.

The candle of honor tradition is such a small, simple, and fun way to acknowledge and impact your family members.

Be prepared for younger children to get upset or complain when they aren’t chosen. Thankfully, this too shall pass as they learn that their turn will indeed come around. The Candle of Honor becomes a strong family tradition as you teach your children to celebrate one another regularly in your home.

2. Turn an ordinary moment into an extraordinary one

As a mother of five, it can be difficult to feel like I’m giving everyone the attention they need or deserve. So, I’m always seeking out simple opportunities to celebrate each of my sons and daughter so that they feel uniquely cherished in our family.

Our youngest got to go back in person to school first, so on the night before he headed back to the classroom, I threw a little after-dinner celebration focused on him.

candle-of-honor-simple-celebration

  • Instead of just handing our son the variety pack of camouflage washable masks I had purchased him for school, I used it as an excuse to throw him a little Back-to-School after-dinner celebration.
  • I googled how many days had passed since his last day of school before the pandemic shut everything down and wrote on a blank notecard, “After 192 days, you get to go back to school.” Yippee. Hooray. Whoo-hoo.
  • After dinner, I lit the Candle of Honor and presented him with a slice of cheesecake (that Kneaders mistakingly gave me when I ordered a cherry pie for myself) and a recycled gift bag with his set of masks and a hand-me-down chapter book from a friend.

This simple celebration cost me nothing but a little time. I threw the idea together in a matter of minutes yet my intentional effort made my son feel special and loved.

This is the name of the game friends.

Be on the lookout for ordinary moments that you can simply turn into extraordinary ones with a little extra effort this school year.

3. Talk around the family table 

It’s so vital that we create space in our families to talk around the table, breakfast bar, or wherever you gather with your people regularly. Get to know who is in your child’s world this school year- virtually or in the classroom. Know the names and happenings of their friends, enemies, teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and the other people they encounter every day.

Ask your students what’s bothering them about their school year so far?

What are they enjoying? And in turn, tell them what’s going on in your life.

Our homes need to be a haven where we gather consistently with our people over meals and speak truth and love to one another.

4. Encourage contribution

Find ways for your children, from toddlers to teens, to help out around your home. Even though your son or daughter will most likely complain about unloading the dishwasher, doing their laundry, or scrubbing a toilet, having regular chores helps children feel a sense of belonging which equates to feeling loved.

raise-Contributors-kids-chores

Not only should your son or daughter be contributing to the good of your family home, but it’s essential that they also learn to contribute to your local community and the world at large.

5. Create a meaningful school year photo album

One of my favorite back to school traditions is putting my sons’ and daughter’s annual school photo into their You are Loved School Days album (which I happened to design.)

School-Photos-Keepsake-Album

When we take the time to intentionally create a meaningful keepsake book with their school photos each year, it tells our child that they matter and that they are loved.

If you haven’t started an annual school year album, you can check out my simple product to help you do so HERE.

6. Start a dialogue journal

A dialogue journal is a perfect way to begin one-on-one communication with your child by writing back and forth to one another in a simple notebook.

Grab a barely used notebook and start a dialogue journal with your school-aged kids to help them improve their penmanship and to get more comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through the written word. It also makes a fun keepsake to look back at later in life.

To learn more about starting a dialogue journal with your student, click HERE.

What other ways are you striving to show love to your student this school year?

11-free-summer-activities-for-kids

If you’re like me and hanging out at home more this summer, with little desire to spend a lot of money right now, perhaps these fun, but low-cost, ideas will be of interest to you. 

11-free-summer-activities-for-kids

1. Plan a themed family night

Look at your summer calendar and see if there are any days coming up that you could purposely celebrate. For example, National Ice Cream Day is coming up in July. Why not surprise your family with an ice cream party that day or set up a sundae bar after dinner?

One of our family’s favorite theme nights we’ve ever had was a backward dinner, where everyone shows up to eat with their clothes on backward. You also serve the meal backward starting with dessert first and serving the salad last. 

The point is to be silly and plan a fun family night that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Little-Free-Library

2. Seek out Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries are “take one, leave one” book stations, and are located all over the place. Visiting Little Free Library locations with your child both encourages a healthy habit of reading and helps kids recycle books they’ve already read.  

Our youngest and I enjoy trying to match the theme of the books we donate to the theme of the little library we are donating to, as we recently did at our local dog park. Get creative with your experiences and enjoy exploring your community together.

Check out littlefreelibrary.org for a map of libraries near you, as well as best practices during the Coronavirus.

3. Make a Boredom Bucket

I’m giving you permission to stop playing cruise director and constantly entertaining your child this summer!

Boredom is mightily beneficial, if we are strong enough to allow our children to experience it. Use this summer downtime to let your kids figure out how to entertain themselves, by themselves, just like we had to do back in the day.

summer-boredom-bucket

One way to set your son or daughter up for success is to help them create a Boredom Bucket, Bin, or Basket with quiet activities to occupy them when they don’t seem to know what to do with themselves. It’s that or a toilet bowl brush so let them take their pick!

CHECK OUT  MY SUMMER OF SIGNIFICANCE PRINTABLE PACK HERE

Putting together a boredom bucket also doesn’t need to cost you anything, unless you want to mix in new items. Your child can choose what items go in the bucket or you can go through their room like I did and pick out small items that have rarely gotten used. You can also add new items to the bucket or switch items out throughout the summer to keep it fun.

4. Start dialogue journals 

School may be over, but we want to keep up on our student’s penmanship. So, grab one of your child’s barely used notebooks from this school year and start a dialogue journal with your kids to help them:

  • Improve their penmanship.
  • Get more comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through the written word.
  • Think about the thoughts and feelings of another in this interactive form of communication.
  • Create a keepsake from their childhood to be cherished later.

Click HERE for more details on how and why you may want to get started on this!

Parent-on-purpose-chores

5. Strengthen life skills 

Take the time to teach your children the life skills that will help them when they start back to school and beyond. What is it that your child needs to know and that they can learn to do this summer?

Not sure? Get my life skills age-appropriate summer task checklists HERE!

6. Go Geocaching

Here’s a family-friendly activity that’s high on both fun and fresh air. Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt offering lots of hidden containers (called caches) and tips and clues for finding them in public spaces such as parks. It was one of our kids’ favorite things they did as we traveled around the USA in our RV in 2014.

Geocaching-kids-summer

Create a free account HERE or download the app from Apple or Google Play on your smartphone. Make sure to bring hand sanitizer and a pen to sign and date the logbook in each geocache you find before placing it back where you found it.

7. Join a summer reading challenge

There are many ways to motivate your child to read more this summer. Start with your local public library to see what they are offering this summer or join in one of the many reading challenges being offered online.

send-summer-postcards

8. Send postcards

Postcards are an easy way to get our kids working on their penmanship while sending some love through the mail this summer.

Who knew you can even order postcard stamps from the comfort of your home on Amazon right HERE. I like buying postcards showcasing our beautiful state, but you can buy unique sets of postcards like these if you don’t have an option or desire to purchase them locally.

kids-in-the-kitchen-summer-life-skills

9. Make a homemade treat in your kitchen together

Hanging out in the kitchen with your kids this summer will provide so many benefits! Not only will you have some fun together, but you will also have the chance to teach your children lifelong skills.

What recipe can you teach your kids how to make? Homemade Strawberry Fruit Rollups is one of our favorite family summer treats and it’s the only recipe I’ve ever posted on my blog!

Kitchen-life-skills-for-kids

WANT TO CREATE SIGNIFICANT FAMILY SYSTEMS IN THE KITCHEN THIS SUMMER?

glass-jar-tradition

10. Start a glass jar tradition

One of the most important things we can do is take the time to create simple traditions in our homes that teach our kids the values we deem most important. One way to do this is to create an annual glass jar tradition to teach the values of generosity, gratitude, joy, or presence.

Here are four glass jar traditions you could start this summer!

chalk-art-glass-window

11. Create a chalk art family masterpiece

I know that chalk art is so “Coronavirus quarantine,” but this mosaic design we painted on our glass door brings me so much joy. I don’t want to ever erase it!

Grab some masking or painters tape and create a design (with chalk markers) on your window or on your driveway and let each family member take part in bringing your artistic creation to life. Make it a fun, family affair!

What are other simple, fun, and low-cost activities to enjoy with your family this summer?

2021-Summer-of-Significance

Childhood is short. Summer is even shorter.

God willing, we only get 18 summers with our kids, so how can we bring significance to this summer that may be simpler than we’re used to?

2021-Summer-of-Significance

1. Strengthen your family values and purpose

Have you taken the time to claim your core values and purpose for raising your kids? It will be nearly impossible to live out a summer of significance if you haven’t taken the time to define what ‘significant’ even means to you.

Start by defining your core values and what it is you want to instill in your children while they are growing up under your care. 

What do you want your son or daughter armored with when they leave your home one day headed into adulthood?

Claim it. Name it and strive to live it out this summer.

2. Prioritize play

Let’s take a deep breath and think about how you can bring more fun to your simple summer days.

How about planning a themed family dinner night? We still talk about the backward dinners we did when our kids were younger, where we all came to dinner wearing backward clothing and started our meal with dessert and ended with salad.

What is it that brings your family joy when you do it together? Plan more of THAT to create significant summer moments and memories for your family.

Click HERE for FREE ideas for being more playful this summer! (Be sure to look for my Boredom Bucket idea helping kids to be playful on their own!)

3. Cultivate an atmosphere of growth

What’s something that didn’t go so well for your child during this school year? Focus on strengthening that area this summer.

While it’s important to play and relax, it’s also crucial to keep learning and growing through the summer months.

For instance, I’m so tired of online learning and am looking for ways to help my youngest keep up on his math skills. This summer we’re using Learning Math Wrap-Ups to strengthen his multiplication and division facts. Check out this whole line of awesome hands-on learning wrap-ups HERE.

Learning-wrap-ups-math-learning-palette

Learning Wrap-Ups sent us these products for our son to try! I’m so grateful that he enjoys using them, and his math skills are improving!

4. Teach life skills

Having the kids at home provides a perfect opportunity to teach them what it is we want them to know before they leave our homes for adulthood one day.

This summer we can take the opportunity to teach our children how to do their own laundry, cook, clean, or change a tire. Perhaps you can finally open that bank account or help your child start a business. Or simply teach them to tie their shoes or handwrite, address and mail a thank you note.

What life skills will you purposely teach your child this summer?

Parent-on-purpose-chores

GET MY SUMMER LIFE SKILLS- FOR TODDLERS THROUGH TEENS- PRINTABLES

5. Make mindful entertainment choices

Binge-watching random television shows, scrolling social media constantly, or playing video games non-stop isn’t a good use of our child’s time. Sure, there may be space for mindless entertainment choices this summer, but we must purposely set boundaries on them, so they don’t consume our days.

Why not purposely choose documentaries to educate yourself as well as create conversation in your family this summer?

What healthy entertainment choices will you choose for your family this summer?

4 Ways to Save Your Sanity with a Summer Screentime Strategy

northern-arizona-fishing

6. Go on local adventures

Unfortunately, our epic trips, along with many other things are still on hold for this summer. As disappointing as not going on that cruise or European vacation may be, we have to pivot and plan for simpler adventures this summer.

Where can you plan to go explore, get out in nature, and enjoy the outdoors where you live?

Most likely, you don’t have to venture further than your home state for family fun. Many times we take for granted the beautiful places that surround us locally that we’ve never taken the time to visit… yet.

What adventures will you create this summer that will add to your family narrative and strengthen your relationships?

Summer-Bucket-List

7. Celebrate life, and loved ones, in simple ways

What can you do to celebrate Dad on Father’s Day so that he feels special and loved?

When my kids were younger, they loved it when I planned a special day for each of them. My sons and daughter got to pick what they wanted to eat for breakfast in bed and what our family would do (within reason) that day.

In my Create a Summer of Significance in 2021 Printable Pack, you will get monthly celebration calendars for you to plan your June, July, and August, as well as a fun fill-in-the-blank All About Dad printable for Father’s Day.

Questions to Ask Yourself-

  • What does each family member need this summer to strengthen them physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally?
  • What frustrated you the most this school year? Work on improving that area this summer so when school rolls around again you may have established better habits.
  • What summer family tradition can you repeat again this year? Summer wouldn’t be summer without this…. bike rides to the bagel shop or boating on the lake. What are the simple things your family does together that can still happen this summer of 2021?

Family-Summer-Fun-2021

What is a way that you strive to create a Summer of Significance?

 

Teach-High-Schoolers-Personal-Health

As my firstborn sons wind down their senior year of high school, I question what I still need to teach them over these next couple of months before launching them off to their respective college campuses come August.

One area where we parents seem to fall short in our teaching is helping our son or daughter manage their health.

In general, we do a relatively good job of talking with our kids about the importance of eating a healthy diet while getting proper exercise and plenty of sleep. Yet, are we failing to prepare our kids to manage their health when they leave our homes?

From the many stories I’ve heard from doctors and nurses, I’m thinking so.

12 GIFTS TO GIVE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR FOR GRADUATION

Emergency Room Nurse Charity Hollywood says she consistently sees ill-equipped young adults stream into the emergency room where she works near a large university campus in Arizona. She says that she is striving to raise her 6-year old twin sons to be confident and capable from a young age and encourages other parents to prepare their children better when it comes to managing their health.

What skills do young adults lack when it comes to their health?

What can parents do differently while raising their kids so that they can launch adults who are more confident and capable when managing their health?

Teach-High-Schoolers-Personal-Health

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Family-Meeting-Agendas

Growing up, I hung out at my best friend Mary’s house a lot, and, every once in a while, Mary’s mom would tell me it was time for their family conference and that I was going to need to leave. As my two feet carried me home, I thought about how their family ritual seemed ludicrous. My parents didn’t do this sort of thing in our home, so why in the world would my friend’s family need to have meetings when we didn’t?

As I aged, I began to appreciate the fact that Mary’s family set aside sacred time for them and them alone. Her Mom wasn’t worried about catering to me or anyone else that she had to send home. They had an intentional system to connect, and I carried that idea forward into my family today.

Monthly-Family-Meeting-Agenda

WHY SHOULD PARENTS CREATE A HABIT OF HOLDING FAMILY MEETINGS?

Because families today are going in all directions. Holding mindful family meetings is a way to slow down and purposely connect with your family members regularly. These meetings are a relaxed way for everyone to gather and communicate together.

Family meetings are a time to get honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your family and to talk about how things are going within your family unit and individually. Family meetings are meant to be fun and promote a sense of belonging.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU HOLD FAMILY MEETINGS?

Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

Decide what works for your family according to your current schedule. If you have younger kids, it will be easier to meet up around the family table for weekly meetings. As kids get older, this becomes more difficult, although just as important. 

Adriane Thompson of Raising Kids With Purpose says she and her husband, along with their three sons ages 9, 6, and 1, meet on Sunday evenings, and “the meetings are usually a mix of screaming, running around, dancing, and cheering with a dash of order.” She says that even with the chaos, something amazing happens:

  • Our kids have input on decisions that impact them.
  • Problems or challenges get addressed in a judgment-free zone.
  • Our family values are highlighted and reiterated.
  • We find out if something is going on with someone that didn’t come up during the week.
  • Everyone feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they have others cheering them on.
  • Chores and family contributions are assigned.



HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR FAMILY MEETING LAST?

Adriane says they keep their weekly family meeting to 15 minutes. “When we first started having meetings, we would all say something nice about each person in our family. Then once all the compliments were finished, that person would get to dance around the house hearing us chant their name. My toddler loved this part. But what ended up happening was the meeting got dragged out making it too long to keep attention,” she said.

WHERE SHOULD YOU HOLD YOUR FAMILY MEETINGS?

I want our “formal” dining room table to be a place where we regularly gather for connective tech-free time together, so this is where we hold our meetings.

The Thompsons’ prefer to switch up where they meet, and Adriane says, “You may even want to consider changing it up once a month and doing it at a park, a froyo place, Chick-Fil-A or somewhere where the kids can have fun afterward.”

FIGURE OUT YOUR PURPOSE 

Claim what it is you want to accomplish through holding your family meetings.

“The goal of a Family Meeting should be to open communication between everyone in the family. Allowing our kids to have a voice gives them autonomy, but also in this type of environment they can get a lot of guidance and know who is ultimately in charge,” says Adriane.

SET THE MOOD

Purposely set the mood and tone of the room to match how you want your family meeting to feel. Do you want it to be fun and upbeat, or do you want it to be serene and serious? Our family meetings always include a dessert, and I light candles so that the space feels calm and inviting.

Adriane agrees to include a special treat for the kids to enjoy during the meeting. “This can be anything from popcorn, special smoothies, muffins to frozen yogurt. Our kids aren’t used to getting a lot of sweet treats, so a family meeting is a perfect time to let them indulge a little,” she says.

END THE MEETING WITH A FUN RITUAL OR FAMILY EVENT

When you have younger kids, you can add an element of fun to the very end of the meeting, such as a dance party or something silly.

For those with older kids, Audrey Monke, Mother of 5 and Writer at Sunshine Parenting says, “Playing a board game or watching your favorite TV show together could be a reward for having the meeting.”

Family-Meeting-Agendas

PLAN YOUR AGENDA

Both Adriane and I, have Family Meeting Agendas that we print out and use for our family meetings, while Audrey says, “You don’t have to get fancy with your agenda. We keep ours on a legal pad, and we take turns being the “chair” of the meeting. Leading the session is good communication practice for kids.”

DOWNLOAD ADRIANE’S WEEKLY FAMILY AGENDA HERE

HERE’S WHAT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR AGENDA

  • What’s working well in your family, and what’s not working so well?
  • What changes do we need to make and what do we want to keep the same?
  • Talk about a value or life skill you want to strengthen.
  • Discuss how well you are serving and loving other people.
  • Coordinate the Family Calendar.
  • Discuss any needs for school or work projects, so you get out of the habit of running out last minute for that poster board!
  • Do you want to payout allowance or any other rewards?

Raising Kids With Purpose Family Meeting Agenda-10

HOW TO KICK OFF THE MEETING 

Start By Saying Something Nice

We used to start our family meetings by turning to the person next to us and saying something we loved about them. Complimenting one another no longer flies with the teenagers, but that practice certainly made for some sweet memories and strengthened our bonds.

Use Conversation Starters

Our family loves using Conversation Starter products around the table. Our favorites are Togather or Food With Thought These questions always seem to lighten the mood of the meeting, and we gain better insight into who one another are. 

Say Highs and Lows

You can also begin with Highs and Lows, where everyone thinks of something positive and something not so positive that recently happened to them.



OTHER GREAT IDEAS TO INCLUDE

Word of the Week

Adriane says her family picks a word from a “words to make you sound smarter” list or “words to study for the SAT,” and they discuss the meaning as well as try to use it throughout the week. I love this idea!

Meal Planning 

Take the time during meetings to plan your weekly dinner menu or to plan for school lunches. Get the whole family involved in what they want to eat for the week and decide who is going to help shop and make the meals too!

No matter if we are raising toddlers or teenagers, we must take the time and make an effort to connect with them regularly. Family meetings tell our kids that they matter. That our family matters. That our thoughts and actions matter.

Setting aside this sacred time for your family, whether it be weekly, monthly or quarterly, is a perfect way to let your kids know you care about them and the overall health of your entire family.

What do you think is important to include in family meetings?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

Fortnite-Video-Game-Playing-Parent-Expectations

My son was never a gamer. He played sports, hung out with friends and did typical dirty boy stuff.

Enter Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The popular video game is now my son’s competition of choice and playing Fortnite is his way of hanging out with friends. Even though it makes me out of my ever-loving parental mind watching my offspring sit there with headphones on shooting at animated characters on a screen, I’m allowing it in our home, but not without limitation.

Playing video games should be an earned privilege, according to Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

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As summer approaches and more downtime is on the horizon, I urge my fellow parents of Fortniters to begin to set family guidelines around gaming now.

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR SON PLAYS FORTNITE

Belonging

Kids naturally have a need to belong and be part of the group. Playing Fortnite fulfills the human need for attachment to other people. The team approach of the popular video game is like being on a playground with friends.

It’s Addictive

There is the ability to have rankings and feel accomplishment and status, so it’s exciting…. and addicting. We must be careful that video games are not medicating our children, just as we adults might turn to alcohol, shopping or other deterrents to mask our reality.

It is ‘Free’

Battle Royale is a free game yet comes at a cost. “There is always a trade-off for the free video game, says Dr. Strohman. “It costs our child no money to begin playing, yet Epic Games collects all of our kids’ data.” Fortnite generated $223 million in one month alone. What appears to be free at the onset, is costing our kids along the way.

All the Cool Kids are Playing

It doesn’t help that our sons are watching their heroes play Fortnite in their downtime. “The game industry is very savvy bringing in the celebrity aspect to further entice our kids and create even more frenzy around it,” says Dr. Strohman. “They want to see who they can rub elbows with. Of course, our teenager would love the opportunity to take Rapper Drake down.”

Parenting the Fortnite Addict in the New York Times

Fortnite-Battle-Royale-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations-For-Teenagers

3 THINGS PARENTS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FAVORITE FORTNITER

1. Communicate about healthy consumption

According to Dr. Strohman, parents must treat technology the same as they do food. “We would never allow a steady diet full of sugar, so why would we allow a steady diet of video games and technology? she says. “If you saw your children eating gummy bears for breakfast, you would sit them down and talk about how it is unhealthy.”

Parents must do the same thing when it comes to video game consumption. We must talk to our child about why a diet full of screens isn’t healthy and then we must be willing to set firm boundaries around gaming in our homes.

2. Create opportunities to build empathy

How are these first-person shooter games affecting our kids?

There is no research to show that first-person shooter games, such as Fortnite, creates actual violence. “But, what it has shown is escalated aggression,” said Dr. Strohman. A heightened alert system increases aggressive tendencies which reduce empathy in our kids. The concern is that this is becoming habitual.”

The world needs us to raise empathetic humans. Parents must mindfully create plenty of opportunities for our children to learn empathy through real-world experiences in our families and communities. Especially if we know that video games are numbing our children to this critical value.

4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

3. Write out your parental expectations for earning the privilege of gaming

How does your child currently earn the privilege to play video games in your home?

I asked Dr. Strohman if the list I gave my teenage Fortnite playing son was perhaps over the top? Was I crossing the line from a firm and loving authoritative parent to a demanding authoritarian parent with my expectations?

Fortnite-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations

“Your list is absolutely awesome,” said Dr. Strohman. “If your son isn’t responsible enough to wear his retainers then how can he earn the privilege of playing video games?”

Nothing like an expert to tell you that your parenting tactics are spot on. Sorry son….

Decide what boundaries you need to place on video gameplay and overall technology use in your home.

It’s okay if our kids think we’re crazy, mean, or super annoying. It’s fine if our expectations make our child temporarily unhappy. It is our job to teach and lead our children to a life of significance and meaning and I can guarantee you too much time on an addictive video game is not achieving that goal.

Have you set boundaries on your son’s Fortnite play? What’s working for your family?

Want more wisdom from Dr. Lisa Strohman? Check out her website here!

To learn about Dr. Strohman’s book Unplug and other books on parenting our kids on screens check out my Parent On Purpose Amazon store!

gifts-for-16th-birthday

How does this…

triplet-sons-driving-16

Turn into this… in a few blinks of an eye.

I’m not sure how we’re already at this stage in our family, but I have to say these guys are way more fun now than they ever were 16 years ago!

The big question I’m asked is did we buy them three cars for their milestone birthday?

Not a chance.

If there was no car with a bow, no epic party or promised iPhone X, then what did we give our 16-year-olds besides a little cash?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what material item to buy or what Pinterest worthy event to throw, that we forget what’s really important to give our kids- the gift of lifelong values.

gifts-for-16th-birthday

1. The Gift of Desire

All my sons desired for their birthday was to get their drivers’ licenses and hit the open road. They wanted the gift of freedom as they turned 16, and that’s what we gave them- a ride to the DMV.

There was no party, no promise of the latest electronic or a new car. We had simply instilled in our boys the desire to set up their own appointments online to take the driving test the minute they could on their birthday. I wasn’t even aware that you could do that. Good for them.

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