In this fast paced, fragmented world that we have built for ourselves, the family core that we claim to value is often spun away from us with a terrifying centrifugal force. Multiple activities for the multiple members of our family tend to have an exponential evolution. Soon, we live in separate worlds and return to a house of strangers at random intervals.
If you are tired of the chaos, you might want to consider scaling down on commitments to focus on ones that the entire family can participate in. I’m not archaic enough to suggest that only this type of activity should be pursued, but I am going to tell you that family is worth preserving.
One of the ways we kept our sanity during the childrearing years was to let our children soar in the single activity that made their heart sing. My daughter chose violin and my son chose Boy Scouts. We spent the rest of the time living life together. What does this look like?
If a family decides that speech and debate is important for their children, it is easily made into a family commitment – older siblings competing, younger siblings serving as timers, dad in the tabulation room, and mom organizing signage or working in registration.
TeenPact Leadership School was an activity we did together as a family. My son served as State Coordinator and handled administrative details; I recruited host families and people to provide meals for the staff; my husband handled chauffeur duties, luggage, and loud kids at night; my little daughter gave presentations at group meetings, helped carry, and worked the registration desk.
Even in the individual activities my children pursued, the family was there to provide support whenever needed. During my son’s Boy Scout Eagle project, we helped through all the planning and provided transportation for the boys the day of the project. His little sister baked loads of cookies to make thank you cookie platters for all the businesses that had supported the endeavor.
During my daughter’s big fundraising concert to raise money for a Pregnancy Care Center, we all had a role to play. I helped her plan the timeline for implementation and her dad took her around to visit various businesspeople to solicit donations. Her big brother, home from college for the summer, manned the soundboard the night of the concert.
This conscious choice to spend most of our time together is still bearing fruit. My adult kids are very different people, but the memories they created when supporting each other through the growing up years has forged a strong bond in adulthood. They have chosen to live in the same city so they can see each other often. They frequently have dinner parties together with a delightful mix up of their friends. It is not uncommon for my husband and me in Oklahoma to get a text on the weekend from Seattle, “We’re all here. Want to Skype?”
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