Q: My husband and I work hard to teach our kids to be content with what they (and we) have. But whenever they visit my parents, that concept just flies out the window. Grandma and Grandpa fill them with soda and candy, buy whatever they ask for, and generally just give in to our kids' every whim. What can we do?
Jim: It's been semi-jokingly said that spoiling the grandkids is Job No. 1 for grandparents. But even the most well-meaning grandparents can occasionally go too far.
I suggest that you take your parents out for dinner and a heart-to-heart talk. Let them know how much you love and appreciate them. Then ease in to the heavier business of the evening. Assure your folks that you're grateful for their kindness and generosity toward your children. But also remind them that too much of a good thing can make it harder for your kids to keep their desires for "more" in check.
Admittedly, that conversation will take courage on your part. But if you handle it with respect and love, I think most grandparents will respond with understanding. There's a decent chance your folks don't even realize how their well-meaning actions undermine what you're trying to emphasize to your kids. So be honest, but respectful, and I think you and your parents will likely wind up on the same page.
You can even take this a step further by strategizing with Grandpa and Grandma about ways they can be proactively involved in reinforcing the lessons you're trying to convey to your children. For example, if one of the kids is trying to save money to buy something special, it's better for all concerned if the child earns some money from Grandpa by doing an age-appropriate job -- instead of just receiving a handout.
For more tips to help your family thrive, see FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: Our family is so busy! How can we balance activities, school, and home in healthy ways?
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: This is a challenge for most families! There are so many demands and responsibilities mixed in with exciting opportunities. It's hard to know when to say "yes" or "no" along the way. So press the brakes, seek wisdom, and take inventory of what is there. We tend to let urgency dictate our calendars, but try to distinguish what is important in the grand scheme of things from what seems urgent right now.
Here are three things you can do to balance activities, school, and home:
1. Prioritize. Ask your child what they value and build your priorities together. Explore needs and wants, discuss the ranking order of each, and embrace the power of "yes" and "no." I recommend that families build in some daily, weekly and monthly rhythms. For example, daily meals, weekly family celebrations or family nights, and a monthly dinner or activity out as a family (i.e., a bike ride or a walk).
2. Set Expectations. Agree on ground rules with your child ahead of time and make sure the expectations for each activity are clear. How many activities are you committing to each season? Does your child know how much time they have after school before leaving for an activity? Do chores or homework need to be completed before participating in activities? Making these boundaries and expectations clear will put you and your child on the same page.
3. Value Rest and Relationship. Your child doesn't have to do everything. It's OK. Let them miss some things, if needed. Remember, downtime and relational time are just as valuable to a child's development as any school, home or extracurricular activity.
For more information about balancing life as a parent, visit FocusOnParenting.com.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at jimdalyblog.focusonthefamily.com or at Facebook.com/JimDalyFocus.
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