First of all, I’ll say this- there is no formula for raising kids who love each other or even kids who sorta like each other, or kids who are good or kids who obey…. If you have regrets about the way you’ve parented, like I do, remember God’s own rebelled too. If anyone’s the perfect parent, it would have to be the Father, Himself- but Adam and Eve disobeyed even Him, just as I would have done. And then one of their sons killed the other.
Of course, I’m using irony in the title of this post. The last thing any of us want, is rivalry among our precious younguns.
With that, this is not a formula but this is merely a list of observations and suggestions from a girl who desires more for her kids. I so wish I could have a do over of my early years as a mom, but I’ll just trust that God is big enough and “GOD enough” to redeem my mistakes and restore the years eaten away by the locusts.
What I’ve gleaned from Sandy Marrero is an attitude, more than a list of rules to keep The key, I think, is to have open hands and an open heart with your kids. When Susanna brought up her idea of going to South Africa for the summer, her mom’s response was not based in fear, but faith.
As the daughters point out in Episode 11, their mom’s go to phrase is, “The worst they can do is say ‘No’…” She gives her children the freedom to dream big and find courage. No helicopter hovering, no manipulating her kids to attend family events do things she wants them to do.
Sandy talks about rising with her kids and being present with them. I’ve always known this is important, but I was influenced by tv shows in the 80’s and 90’s which encouraged independence among family members- especially the kids. I remember a cereal commercial in which a sleepy eyed 6-ish year old shlepped across a dark kitchen and reached into the fridge to pull out a package. Inside the shrink wrap, he found a plastic bowl of sugary cereal, a small carton of milk, even a plastic spoon!
This commercial was very troubling to me but I fell into the way of thinking the most important thing I can teach my kids is “independence.” But I got it wrong. Now I’d say the best gift I can give them is “interdependence.”
There were popular books and movies boasting “the resilience of kids” almost promoting divorce and a common adage overheard by this clueless young mom was “Keep them busy….” which I also believed for a number of years.
Sandy doesn’t seem affected by these lessons from the world’s playbook on child rearing. She seems to have a very different approach. She acknowledges that the younger kids need her close by. She still kneels to speak tenderly to 12 year old Dawson. She allows Camille to experiment in the kitchen with m & m’s in the pancake batter. She is allowing the littles to lead her in their respective grief processes. And she’s available for her older ones when they need their mama too.
She does have a few do’s and don’ts from what we hear in the Marreros’ interview.. “Dogs are not allowed on the bed,” “Phones are not allowed on the table…” but she is flexible, allowing those rules to bend toward building relationship. The children respect her guidance because they know she has their best interest at heart. Always.
Watching their family over the years reminds me of the Deut 6:7 verse, which says,
“teach your children these precepts when you sit in your house, when you walk along the way, when you lie down and when you get up.
Like Jen Wilkin points out, “The writer of Deuteronomy seems to believe there are times when our families are all together in the same house. 🙂
Jen brings up lots of creative, radical ideas like;
–It’s actually ok to have only one or even NO sports or after school activities. She gives her children the choice of one or none. (As it turns out, this is perfectly legal.) Jen suggests we ask the question before signing up for any activity; “Does this take away from family time or enhance it?)
I would add, “Can you all go to the same game together to support one child at the same time?” I had a mentor suggest that I allow each kid to participate in one activity or sport a year so we could all go together to support that one (“together” being the operative word here.)
Shoot for same place activities vs different place activities whether you’re all attending a sporting event to support one family member or watching a funny video- do it together as a family….
Jen makes it clear, she’s not against sports or activities, but when one parent is leaving town every weekend with the kid who’s in travel soccer, leaving the other parent to take each of the others to their dance, karate and baseball practice, it can get hectic, it can really mess with their sleep schedule and it keeps family members going in different directions.
Here are some basic guidelines for encouraging sibling rivalry among your kiddos-
-Give them less sleep than they need
-Never eat dinner together; in fact, keep them apart for all meals and activities.
-Tell them over and over “Your sibling is your main competitor.”
-Don’t bother cultivating a right relationship with God.
-Don’t take care of yourself.
-Parent out of fear and encourage fear in them.
(Naah- don’t do any of these.)
But DO listen to Jen Wilkin’s message from TGC conference
The I Choose You fund is a movement for adoption and foster care at Fellowship Bible Church in sweet Nashville, TN. http://www.fellowshipbiblechurch.org/