Momma Chel is a contributing writer to this community, as well as a mother raising several children in her expanded family. These are some of her thoughts regarding the subject.

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Breathe And Smile

Interactions...

Having five children in our home, itís safe to state that I spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what type of interaction each child needs. I worry over not spending enough time with the oldest because I know that he is mature enough to handle some things on his own, but also know that itís up to the adults to keep communication flowing in the teen-age years. I worry that the youngest child is receiving too much attention/interaction with the adults because sheís the baby of all of us as a family. She is so much a part of each of us in the house and that brings her into many types of interactions with the adults and also the kids. I worry over the middle children feeling that mundane feeling of being "stuck" in the middle when they have so much to offer. Does the oldest girl feel too much pressure to "parent" the younger children?

As a polyfamily, I also fret over my feelings that Iím not giving the right type of interaction to my biological or non-biological children. Do the children feel that I approach them differently? Do the children need more time with just their biological parent? What are the long-term effects on children growing up in a polyfamily? Does it really matter to me and the children about what psychologists choose to say or conduct studies on?

These worries and issues are all fine and dandy to ponder, but is it getting me anywhere in raising my children and balancing my life? My suggestion to myself when I start feeling overwhelmed with issues is to step back, breathe, and then start simple.
  1. What do I know? ----- I start thinking about real, true things I know about each child. These things give me warm fuzzies (most of the time!). It may also give me brainstorming ideas on what each child may need from me or from all of us. For instance, I know that the 10 y.o. boy goes through a rough time with change. I also know that last year it took at least six weeks after a change to settle him back into a routine where he was comfortable and thus, more well-behaved. This year it took only a two-week period to settle him into the school year. ***Warm Fuzzy*** We knew it was difficult for him and we worked together to address this.

  2. What Can I Do? ----- Again, I brainstorm through the ages and stages and find things that arenít giving me those warm fuzzies. Example: We have a large home for the eight of us, but while weíre remodeling, there is only one full bathroom and a Ĺ bath in the basement. This causes issues with Adult toiletries versus Kids toiletries. Now this may seem trivial, but with eight of us, we spend A LOT of time in the bathroom. Anything we can do to lessen the chaos in the bathroom really is more time and energy that can be spent positively interacting with our kids. We talked it over and specified shelves so the kids know what is acceptable to use and what isnít. Believe me, itís helped!

  3. Remember to Breathe and Smile, Breathe and Smile! ----- Some things donít work well. It doesnít matter the preparation weíve put into it ; itís called life, and life with kids. So when the kids are fighting again for the umpteenth time, and the milk gets spilled at supper for the 5th time, I repeat to myself, breathe and smile, breathe and smile! Itís not the end of the world and itís not worth it to get all bent out of shape because we have the rest of the evening to attend to or the rest of the day depending on the timing!
More along the lines of where I started from, I realize that small, everyday interactions can be among the most rewarding and possibly momentous for our kids. When Iím cleaning house, the children help. They get so excited about some jobs that they call to me "Look at the bathroom; itís sparkling!" Of course, they get praised and we get help, making this a win-win combination! When weíre in the car and weíre having a spelling bee, the youngest is learning to wait patiently, the 8 y.o. and 10 y.o. get to listen to the 11 y.o. do "hard" words and accordingly want to aspire to this. When a teacher sends a note home about negative behavior, there are three parents and possibly four siblings that will inevitably hear of it and give their advice to you on what to do differently. When the oldest girl is struggling with becoming a young woman, she gets opinions and encouragement from two parental figures that have been there. When we all watch a movie together and especially when itís one weíve already seen, we tend to look at a person in our family at a specific part of the film to watch their reaction as we remembered it being silly or funny from the first time. There are a million everyday, small interactions that I canít even begin to list that make us a family and bring us closer. Iíve found that if I trust my instincts, the kids will tell us what they need from us if not through words, definitely through actions. We choose to literally stop worrying, and to start living from moment to moment and through each of the ages and stages while trying to better ourselves and our family through communication and the best way we know how --- trial and error!

Momma Chel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Momma Chel; October 19, 2005

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