Skip to comments.Your kids need you (Rebecca Hagelin)
Posted on 10/15/2004 6:23:50 AM PDT by Tax-chick
Your kids need you Rebecca Hagelin (archive)
October 15, 2004 | Print | Send
The apple whizzed by her head so fast you could barely see it. Not to be outdone by her brother, Kristin grabbed a particularly putrid rotting apple from the ground and lobbed it at Drew with the greatest of delight. Ah, these are the moments family memories are made of!
It was a perfect crisp fall day accentuated by a cloudless sky of the clearest blue. We drove about 90 minutes from our home in DC to the beautiful Virginia countryside to pick apples. Along for the adventure was our son (ok, not really our son, but we love him like one), Michael; our two teen boys, Drew and Nick; and our 12-year-old daughter, Kristin. My husband and I had been planning the trip for several days anticipating family time filled with the simple pleasures in life. We were not disappointed.
When you take three teenage boys and one younger sister on a road trip youve got to make a conscious decision in advance that you are going to have a great time filled with the joys of teen-male antics if you dont, youre likely to go stark raving mad. Its also helpful if the little sister is a tough little cookie. Our group has spent many hours of togetherness in the family van on such jaunts and everyone sort of figured out their roles, mischievous tricks, defensive measures, and counter-attacks long ago. As my once-little children continue to grow older and taller and more occupied with their own activities and friends, Ive come to relish such adventures.
How many more fall days are there for us to be together? It breaks my heart to realize that theres only what is left of this season and then just one more autumn for us to enjoy as a family. Drew is a junior in high school and will be headed off to college much too soon, only to be followed by Nick and Michael the next year. Im learning the hard way and as so many parents before me have that childhood is fleeting.
In todays incredibly busy, media-saturated world I find it is ever more difficult to carve out time for our family to spend together. Even arranging family dinners can be a hassle and sometimes, you get hassled a bit by teens who think theyre too mature for such togetherness. But coordinating schedules, turning off the tube, pushing other activities and homework aside, letting the dirty laundry sit, and ignoring all the other distractions of life that often rob us of the opportunity to be together are not only worth the effort, shutting out the world and concentrating on family is an essential element in producing healthy, happy kids.
The world has become a dangerous place for children. Theres terrorism at home and war abroad to worry about. And so many negative influences attack their sensibilities every day that the only way theyre going to find their way is if parents take the time to show them. Teaching kids values such as courage, and integrity, and how to rise above a sex-crazed culture that threatens their futures doesnt just come from having serious chats it also comes from having wacky fun on a family road trip or from the simple act of eating together on a regular basis.
My colleagues at The Heritage Foundation have combed through massive amounts of social science research from peer-reviewed journals and found that kids whose parents spend time with them are less likely to smoke, abuse drugs, drink or engage in sex. You can peruse the research yourself for free at www.familydatabase.org. Heritage researchers have also found that the best place for men, women and children is in a loving home environment. (This research, and more, is available at no charge on www.heritage.org.)
Our instincts tell us that individuals who live in loving families that spend time together make for better individuals but how many of us actually live like we believe it? How many moms and dads have forgotten that what kids really want isnt another television or more stuff. What they really want and need is time with you.
The trips dont have to be expensive or filled with endless planned activities and tours, and the meals dont have to be fancy. They just have to be. Whether its taking the time for a walk in the park, a picnic, biking, or doing something a bit more unconventional like providing the perfect environment for apple-bomb wars, youll be instilling in your children loving memories, values and a sense of security. And, like anytime you give such blessings to others, youll end up feeling pretty blessed yourself.
Yet another reason to home-school. :-)
Spent last Sunday afternoon driving and hiking through Shenandoah Skyline Drive with my wife and children before having a late dinner at Big Meadows. What a great day.
Don't intend to have kids. Our soicety is sick as it is as is going to get worse.
It's good to see you back (for a short time) and there's something to be said for your opinion!
Wow, fun :-).
One reason I posted this article is that we are having such a hard time doing anything together in our family. We have seven children, 13 to 8 months. Five of the children have "activities" ... Scouts, religious education, gymnastics, horseback riding, ballet ... next year we'll add more. We've almost always got more than one thing on the schedule each weekday, and on the weekends, so we have to split up into groups, eat frozen pizza or toast for meals, and do laundry in the middle of the night. When I need to communicate with my husband, I e-mail both his work and home e-mail addresses, hoping to catch him at one of them!
I don't know what to do. None of the activities is overwhelming in itself. Some are once a week, some only every other week, some have adult leader meetings that add on. And they're all worthwhile. But it's just TOO MUCH! (/rant off)
Any input would be appreciated!
With seven children I think you are pretty much always going to be busy. We have four with one on the way and we have had to make an effort to keep a reasonable schedule. (We homeschool so that gives us some additional flexibility).
What we did was decided that each kid (the older 3) would have one activity each season (instead of trying to do 2 or 3). This November will be gymnastics. Next Spring is soccer. That has done two things: First, it keeps the schedule manageable and second, it allows our children to focus their attention.
Another thing my wife and I decided on was that it was very important for us to eat dinner as a family every night. We made that our priority. So if a potential activity conflicted with that goal, it was dropped from consideration.
Like I said, with your 7, the sheer volume of children makes it difficult not to be busy. We have found that a good place to start is for my wife and I to sit down and talk about what is really important and what isn't; to prioritize. That has helped us in our activity decision making.
I don't see "family time" on that list.
I don't know what to do.
Make hard choices.
Every one of these groups is run by people who think that the world should revolve around what they do. Were I you, I would set aside a particular time for family, daily if possible, that must remain inviolate. Else, it won't happen. Then I would enlist the kids in deciding what has to go or what activities they would do together; IOW swap the gymnastics for dancing or whatever. Remember, if you kill youself or induce serious family strife by trying to do too much, you took something more precious from them in the process: yourself; i.e., your time with them. Any of those activities, by comparison, means far less.
I would also suggest that you lead some of those activities instead of relying upon an organization. Take them to museums, or even take a course with them. Show them what "mom likes to learn too" looks like. They'll learn more from that than you'll realize.
My husband's a Cub Scout leader. I'm a Brownie leader. I lead a Bible discussion at church during the classes 3 of the children attend. (I read all the time, but I can't take classes with a nursing baby!)
You're right, there are hard choices to be made, and if I'm ever at home at the same time as my husband, we'll have to discuss it :-).
I can't imagine how it would be to raise seven kids, especially where we live in California. We home school, btw, so that's yet another way to leverage time.
We home school, too. It helps with the time problem, but not enough. Most organized activities can't be scheduled during the school day, because everyone else's kids are in school (and then in after-school care, many of them ... I have Brownies at 7:00 p.m.)
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