Parenting toward a team mentality is so much easier when our kids are small. After all, their needs are more basic and we tend to do everything as a family. The kids help us set the table, put away their toys, and we tend to celebrate each individual’s milestones as a family. Birthday parties include everyone and usually extended family if they are in town. Life is novel and there are lots of firsts–first tooth for the tooth fairy, first basketball game, first cheerleader outfit, or first time on a water slide. Everyone celebrates together! We are so much a part of our kids’ lives that at times we don’t know where we end and they begin. We’re just together.
Usually by sixth grade or so, things begin to shift. We trust our kids to be on their own more, they have their independent friends, and organized sports sometimes force us to create carpool opportunities so one kid can be involved in their sport while we’re doing something with another child.
Somewhere along the way as a family we are able to fit in more and more into our busy schedules and spend time independently with each kid because we know the importance of each feeling special.
But unfortunately as a culture we are seeing family silos as the kids get older. In the midst of busyness we lose the family element. Dad takes Marcus to his baseball game, Synda carpools to her track meet, Mom goes to watch Nicole’s tennis match, and Josh is hanging out with friends. Everyone catches dinner wherever they can and the evening entails more soloing. Mom is downstairs doing laundry, Dad is mowing the lawn, and each of the kids are doing their own thing–independent of each other.
Instead of the family unit rooting each other on, it becomes every man for himself.
The kids think that the world revolves around them.
They begin to think “the reason I exist is to be entertained and do the things I want to do”.
And the family/team element becomes non-existent as everyone feels that their “need to be somewhere” is more important and mom and dad become puppets to satisfy the need. Somehow in the world of “making each kid feel special” we’ve forgotten that being part of something bigger than us is also important–a family, a team.
Please don’t misunderstand that sports aren’t important and that we don’t need to make each kid feel special. All of those are greatly valued elements of life.
But do we get so busy making everyone happy with their thing, do we spend so much time making each kid feel special individually, do we get so involved in our own activities (work, school, ministry, work travel, insert the thing that you do) that we forget the importance of team and rooting each other on? Are we so focused on independence that we forget about everyone being together in one place and making family choices that benefit the whole rather than just one sliver of the pie?
Maybe it’s time to take inventory of your own family to see if you operate as a team or individual silos.
- How often is everyone under the roof at the same time and interacting in the same space?
- How often do you eat a meal together as a family without technology?
- Have you ever made a choice where you could accommodate one child’s desire but not two kids’ requests? Was the other child able to give up his desire for the sake of the other in a healthy way?
- Are you always strategizing to make sure everyone gets to do what they want?
- How often do you choose to say “no” for the sake of the family?
- Is dad or mom traveling with work such that family interaction means that one parent is most likely missing a majority of the time?
Our kids will have plenty of opportunity to be individual silos as they go off to college or move out of our homes and start their careers. However, at some point they will want to most likely start their own families.
And what have we modeled?
Will they want to still be part of a team with family interacting as our grandchildren come along? Or will they only remember the silos and still be striving to be the center of our universe passing what we’ve modeled on to the next generation?
From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Dare you to take inventory of your family and make adjustments as necessary. Let your kids recognize that they are part of a bigger team where people love, learn, and make concessions for the whole so they can grow to full maturity.
“Let go…and let God”,
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