As we continue the series about identity, Dr. Kathy addresses the importance of the character self. Because it forms our reputation and it’s relevant to all the other identities, it’s very important to talk about with children. Which qualities do you most value? Observe for them and talk about them, all with the goal of children BEcoming that quality rather than just DOing that quality. Dr. Kathy ends by sharing the two qualities she especially encourages you to prioritize.

Being Thankful Is Who We Are, Not Just Something We Do


With Thanksgiving upon us, perhaps you’ve been reflecting on gratitude lately like I’ve been. My thoughts have been on the web of beliefs and character traits necessary for thankfulness to truly describe us.

What do you think we and our children need to believe in order for gratitude to take root? That we’re not entitled to anything? That working for what we want is appropriate? To accept it when we don’t get or become what we want? That putting others first is right? That God is the provider of all things? What else can you think of?

What are some connected character qualities? In other words, if you strive to raise children who are content in all circumstances, won’t gratefulness be a more natural response to life? I think so. And, it’s true for us, too. What else? Other-centeredness? Compassion? Humility? Generosity? Cheerfulness? Sensitivity?

I believe we can intentionally raise children to be grateful and not just express gratitude occasionally when they are supposed to. We can be this way, too! Catch your children acting on these related beliefs and exhibiting these related attributes and affirm them. Talk about what you see. Celebrate what you see!

This is the perfect time of year to give birth to thankfulness that is who we are and not just something we do.


Today’s blog post is slightly edited from my column in the Celebrate Kids email newsletter that will be sent to our subscribers tomorrow. It’s free, brief, helpful, and sent every-other-Tuesday. In addition to my column, Tina Hollenbeck writes one especially for parents. We’d love to email it to you. Subscribe here. Thanks!

Dr. Kathy believes this is one of the most important videos she has recorded for you. We hope you’ll listen and benefit. To continue our series about children’s identities, she talks about their emotional side. Even when it’s hard, parents are wise to look for opportunities to talk about feelings they observe and those that are hidden. She demonstrates this critically important truth and shares valuable information about boys and girls. Her reasons for prioritizing these conversations are important and we think her suggestions are helpful.

Cultivating Gratitude Year Round

Maybe what we need between now and Christmas is a change of heart...

ck hands love heart

If you have read Screens and Teens you know that cultivating gratitude is something I think we need to be consciously doing on a regular basis. Giving thanks cannot be something we do one day a year. Being thankful should be something we are.

What if we all determined to choose thankfulness between now and the end of the year and beyond? Yes, what if it truly becomes a habit that it’s a part of us? As I write on page 80, “Gratitude can be a built-in part of our identities. This is what allows us to be thankful “in all circumstances” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ).”

Rather than complaining about the entitlement easily observable throughout our culture and many people, let’s do what we can. We’re not responsible for everyone else. We can’t even change our own hearts, but Jesus can.

My hope for many people between now and Christmas is a change of heart. Is this relevant for you and/or your children? Would praying for God’s perspective be helpful? Would it help to pray for eyes to see what you have instead of what you don’t have? Would discussions and prayer about contentment be a good idea?

Truth can reign. We can model truth, talk about it, pray that it becomes believed, and more. We can ask God to show us the conversations to have with children to help shift their perspective.

What if these passages truly informed us during this season and beyond? Can you think of others to talk with your children about this season?

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:14-17

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Scripture is, of course, so important to being transformed more and more into the image of Christ. We can also take action. Waiting for the truths of Scripture to totally change hearts before stepping out in obedience isn’t necessary. Acting on truths can help especially children see the truths. They’ll believe the Scripture and continue to act on it.

For instance, what if we established something new during the upcoming Christmas season? What if, as we add new things to our home, we give away things from our home? This might happen the week after Christmas as toys, clothes, dishes, and more are put away where they belong. We can talk now about the expectation.

I know some families who collect things Thanksgiving week to give away to shelters and the like. This makes room in their homes for new things. And, more importantly organizations and struggling families looking for “gently used things” during December will benefit from what we give away.

We all have clothes we no longer wear, dishes we rarely use, toys that are no longer fun for our children, CDs we don’t listen to, DVDs we don’t watch, and more. Others can benefit. But, only if they’re not collecting dust in our homes.

When we and our children recognize how much we have that we don’t need, thankfulness should be easier. Contentment can reign. Let’s make this our story.

An important side of your multi-faceted diamonds – your children! – is their social side. Because we live, learn, and serve in community, our children benefit from knowing about their social selves. If they can’t relate well to others, much of life may be a struggle. As always, Dr. Kathy makes helpful suggestions to encourage you to talk meaningfully about your children’s social side.

Let’s Do More To Honor Veterans

celebrate kids veterans day

As you know, unless you live under a rock, today is an official day set aside in America for honoring our veterans. I sure hope you talk to your children about why this is appropriate. I also hope you choose to honor our veterans more than just one day a year.

In my book Screens and Teens, I write about my fear that “liking” a cause on Facebook is too easy. Might people click “like” and feel good about doing something? But, what have they really done?

I’m not saying the “like” does nothing. I know I’m encouraged when my posts and causes are liked and shared. Some of us will change our Facebook cover photo or profile picture in honor of today. That’s great, too.

But, doing these things doesn’t require much of us. I don’t want these low commitments to satisfy people. Our veterans deserve so much more.

Teach your children what they need to know so they can truly support our veterans.


What you think is special about our country

Whether “loving” a country is possible and appropriate.

Freedom and its value

Peace and its value

Why someone would sacrifice for the common good

The role of war

Talk during teachable moments and create times for meaningful discussions. Talk with others. Invite veterans over for dinner. Go on field trips. Pay attention to what’s around you that’s relevant.

Now brainstorm ways of supporting our men and women in uniform throughout the year. They deserve so much more than one day.

Putting a “Twist” On My Bucket List


Do you have a bucket list? Are visiting any museums on the list? There’s one on my list. If you know me, that might not surprise you. Can you predict which one?

I dream of going to The Strong – the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. Among other things, they are home to the National Toy Hall of Fame and the International Center for the History of Electronic Games.

This year, Twister was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Do you have memories of playing Twister? I sure do. It was a staple of family parties with my brother and cousins. I know we played it at some birthday parties. I remember taking it on vacation because we could set up the plastic mat on the lake’s beach or the shade under the trees. Our grandparents enjoyed watching us play.

The inventors were going to call it Pretzel until they determined the name was taken. If you’ve played the game, you can see why they thought Pretzel would be a good name.

Children are multi-faceted diamonds with many beautiful sides. Yes, they are! One of those sides is intellectual. Because they learn a lot about themselves by what we say and don’t say, our comments about their school days are very important. Dr. Kathy makes several important recommendations that will help your discussions about intellectual issues go well.

Inspiring Children: The Legacy of Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel strategically planned. I find this compelling. Do you?


Inspiring children to be smart with their smarts never gets old. Encouraging and teaching children to use their smarts only for good is among our great privileges.

I think this may inspire you today. Talk about it with your children.

Alfred Nobel built bridges and buildings in Stockholm in the 1800’s. (Does his name ring a bell?) This construction work required him to blast rock. After a deadly explosion killed his younger brother in 1864, he was motivated to invent something safer so no one else would die.

Nobel named his new explosive “dynamite” after the Greek word dynamis, which means power.

Alfred Nobel was a brilliant chemist and fluent in five languages. He accumulated great wealth primarily from 355 patents. He decided he wanted to be remembered for something good. What do you and your children want to be remembered for?

Before dying, he planned the Nobel Prizes that are still awarded today. He died in 1896 with the equivalent of 8.5 million dollars at today’s rates. This money was used to establish the Nobel Prizes.

Alfred Nobel strategically planned. I find this compelling. Do you?