Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fighting for Family

I've been writing and rewriting, hoping to get a handle on this topic. Lately there have been several news stories that have come to my attention and I feel like it may be time to get this completed and published. Bear with me...I have no answers, only thoughts on the issue.

The kids are getting older and with that, I am beginning to see, comes more opportunities outside the home. This is often a good and right thing (even for me who would rather keep all my peeps in the coop). I know that they need to be away from here sometimes, form friendships, explore new things.

Homeschooling enables us to work in a lot of the "away-from-home" time during the day. For now, this could not be more perfect. I am so much more willing to say yes to an outside activity with this arrangement than I would be otherwise. Let's see, you're at school for 7+ hours of your day and you want to do X which will take you away another hour or two in the evening (or worse, on weekends)? Uh, that would be a "no". It wouldn't be easy because I would still want all the good things I stated above but I would have to say it anyway. That's just the right thing for us to do. (Having said that you will see, below, that I still ended up with a crazy schedule for a while.)

I know you've read the studies about how family meals cut down on any number of difficulties as the kids get older. I take most studies with a grain of salt. Still, how could this be wrong? An hour or more of together time in the evening to process your day with one another. Time to recharge within your home instead of trying to "catch up" with a happy meal in the car. How can that be a bad thing? Worst case, you're all texting during the meal and it doesn't really count. Possibly, though, there will be a day or two (among many perhaps) that something comes up and is addressed with time and attention. Sounds good to me.

This season we found ourselves, during a 6-week period, with evening activities 3 days per week. This meant that DH had to rush home from work and we had to rush through dinner so that we could be on the road. It was pretty clear that wasn't going to happen long-term and, after the language course ended, nothing took its place. Taking control of family meal-time isn't easy but it is important. It is a choice to be unlike most other people. That's OK.

Truth be told, we do the happy meal in the car too. I am trying, however, to keep them the exception (and not just because the cost is astronomical - with #1 eating adult meals now, I can see becoming a rare treat). The cost of food is crazy to begin with and we have bottomless pits. Depressing to see my fridge like this more often than not.

I can see why my parents bought meat in half-steer quantities! How blessed we are with all these healthy, hungry little people.

Family dinners are only part of the equation. I bet people who never eat together but who have other options to spend time together end up ok. The point is not when you do it, it's that you must do it. Kids need boundaries and they need supervision. How does this happen if you never see them?

I was just introduced to this blog so I can't speak for everything she says. The parts about what boys need at different ages, however, sound right to me (as a parent of little boys and someone who studied this once-upon-a-time). Meg Meeker also writes some really excellent things on parenting and what is ultimately important (i.e. it's not a new phone).

I am biased because of the choices I have made with my husband about our kids. I don't know how it all turns out (stay tuned). I do know, when we go to family rosary and our 2-year-old recites his Hail Mary loud and clear, I have no "magic" to pass on. We value prayer and family time. That shows in the skills and choices of our kids so far. Will that continue? I hope so but I know how easily life can be thrown off the rails by someone who makes a bad decision.

These boys may have been raised in a home much like yours or mine. There are no guarantees in this world. For better or worse, other people can decide our fate. This is especially heartbreaking because I was in a mom's group with her when our kids were tiny. My is short; sometimes much more than we can imagine. It is so important that we remember what is essential and choose that FIRST. Praying with your kids, saying "no" to overindulgence, helping them learn right from wrong...none of that will earn anyone a long, happy life. Struggle and pain are also part of the human condition. Kids need to learn that too. Learning takes practice and someone to guide them. Please guide your kids. Don't be afraid to say "no" to them or "no" to society. It is so very important.

If you want to look at this as a rant from that "weird, homeschooling, religious nut" so be it. Perhaps you will keep it in your mind long enough to think about it when the next opportunity comes to spend a minute with your kids instead of a., b. or c. Having spent too much time writing and not enough "being with" my blessings, I will close.

Have a blessed day.

1 comment:

  1. oh my...the story about the mom trying to save her boy is so heartbreaking. Our summer cottage is actually RIGHT by Westfield. I've been there many times. It's not the first tragic story I've heard :-(