Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What no one tells you about big families and kids growing up

There’s an interesting camaraderie that exists among moms & dads that are raising large families. It’s like an instant connection when you are parents that find yourself outnumbered by children.

I classify 3 kids or more as “large”! Once you go from man-to-man coverage to zone, it’s a whole ‘nother game!

When you talk to other parents of large families, it’s great to be able to laugh about shared experiences like: how different you were when it came to germs and your first child as compared to your last; ideas for time management and keeping everyone’s schedules and extracurricular activities straight; tips for managing the never-ending piles of laundry; deals for vacation spots and restaurants where kids eat free on Tuesdays… but there’s something that no one, not once, ever told me about. Ever warned me about… and that’s how to deal with the phase of life when your large family starts shrinking.

You see… as they get older, the kids start doing their own thing. It’s such an important transition and it really becomes the first time in years where you feel like you are entering unchartered waters. How much freedom do I give? Too much and it may feel like I don’t care as a parent. Too little and you risk stifling their opportunities for growth and hurting your relationship. But one way or another... it just starts to happen. They make plans and you find one night that instead of “party of 7” you’re a “party of 6” and it just. doesn’t. feel. right. Even the other kids in the family will notice. And then your second child starts getting older, and also starts making plans of their own, and instead of “party of 7”, you’re now a “party of 5” and that’s just plain WRONG.

So what’s a parent to do? How are we to cope? I haven’t quite got it figured out yet! But, just as with every other phase that’s been part of my parenthood journey, I’m sort of “making it up as I go along”, sticking to my values, and counting on love & faith to carry me through.

And on those rare occasions where I have the gift of being a “party of 7” for the night… cherishing every minute of it.