Q: As a busy mother with young children, I don't have much choice but to take them with me when I go shopping. But sometimes they drive me crazy in the stores! Help!
Jim: I love seeing families shop together; they're experiencing the value of spending time with each other in daily life. So I generally don't mind when I'm stuck behind a cart steered by a 5-year-old -- as long as Mom or Dad is navigating! But some outings can turn frustrating if we don't stay on our toes. Author Karen Ehman has some tips for shopping with children.
Feed them first and avoid hot spots: Temptations are everywhere. If kids are hungry, you could be inviting trouble. (And let's face it, we all have our "hangry" moments.) And if they haven't learned that needs are different than wants, stay away from some aisles altogether.
Build incentive: Help children cut a coupon for a special treat beforehand. If they get through the trip without complaining or acting out, they get to have that treat.
Guide financial awareness: If your older child wants something, talk about cost. If they don't have enough money of their own, brainstorm ways they can earn it.
Buddy up: Some ages and stages are rougher than others. Arrange with another struggling parent to watch each other's kids while you go to the store alone.
Most of all, hang in there! Not all shopping trips will be stress-free. But intentional efforts to develop your children's behavior -- even in the most everyday moments -- can have a lasting impact.
For more ideas to help your family thrive, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: My 12-year-old daughter follows all of her favorite celebrities on social media. She's constantly checking her phone for tweets and Instagram posts. I've been looking at the things many of those people post -- from racy photos to expletive-filled rants -- and I'm concerned. How can I address this with my daughter?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: Stepping back a bit, I believe the place to start is to have a conversation with your daughter about people in general. Now, I know you've already done that to a point. We all have. But what I'm suggesting here is a discussion about people whose lives are truly worth emulating. Who are some of these? What makes a person someone to "follow"? Name a few names.
Personally, I like to set the bar high. The people I admire -- both living and deceased -- are those who've extended themselves on behalf of others, who've given sacrificially above and beyond what is "normal," and who believe that there's no greater gift one can give than to lay down one's life for someone else. I'm not there yet. But I know what it looks like. (Some of my models: Desmond Doss, Dave Roever, Mother Teresa, Dr. Kent Brantly, Jean Vanier.)
Now, we all have feet of clay, so I'm not trying to suggest we'll find a perfect person or two to pattern our lives after. But there are and have been thousands who've been exemplary in ways that would be good for us all to follow. Your daughter needs to know these people aren't constantly posing for selfies or are "worthy" just because they're famous. They're certainly not about to post racy photos and expletive-filled rants. These are virtuous people of great character, and they stand out culturally because of it.
Make sure to help your daughter understand that there's nothing wrong with looking up to people. Just be sure she has a better road map to find what those people are really like inside and identify those who seem to be doing it right these days (or have done it right in days gone by).
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 www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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