This Doctor's Advice for a Happy, Fulfilled Family
There was once a professor who stood before a large lecture hall filled with energetic students. He put up a slide of a young adult sitting on a mountain top enjoying a beautiful vista. He said, "Students, study hard, put in the long hours, sacrifice, give everything you have and someday...someday this can be your child."
I care for many people who suffer from burnout, much of which comes from willful, exclusive self-placement into the "giver" role within their family.
How does this story find you in your life?
Are you an example to your children in living a life fulfilled? Or, do you provide fuel for their happiness?
Ultimately, we must provide both, but this does need to balance out. We must ensure our child receives the attention they need, but we must also take care that we don't lose ourselves in bringing fulfillment to others.
Balanced Support in My Family
I have four kids that span the various ages of childhood. There is one is high school, one in middle school, one in elementary and one in diapers. They are all busy people with their own interests and activities, things that require some time from their parents. However, my wife and I do not allow this to rob of us of our own activities, realizing that this is important as well. While we spend time in the bleachers in support and appreciation of our children, so do our children support and appreciate the interests and hobbies my wife take part in.
The lesson: support and be supported- including you, parents!
This is fundamental in family.
Making Time for Fulfilling Activities
Many needs of children are non-negotiable.
They need to be fed and groomed. Homework assignments need to be finished with guidance. And yet, couples' and/or individual time can and must be carved out. All it requires is a a little planning. Trade in your "giver" role for just a little bit to build yourself up.
What are your desires? Do you crave relaxation? Do you yearn for an adrenaline rush?
A good example of this happened in our family recently.
My wife has always told me "I LIVE to ballroom dance!" For her, the more she is allowed to dance, the better and more enriched she feels in her life. It lifts her up. Unfortunately, after the birth of our youngest child, the breast feeding, diaper changing and other family needs caught up with my wife and this activity that was so fulfilling to her was put on hold for a long while. In hindsight, this was mistake. She started, understandably, to feel very run down. Though she loved the children and being a mother to them, she needed to "mother" and care for her own interests and heart as well. When nudged back into dancing, I saw her lighten up in a significant way.
A Happy Family
It is true that a parent with charged batteries is a better parent! It's important to charge your "batteries" and to make sure that your partner's "batteries" are charged as well. If you are raising your kids with a partner, involve your kids in lifting up their other parent, putting them in the "giver" role. With a little luck, this will foster an appreciation on the part of the kids.
Make your own path as an individual and as a family. Start with open communication among your family. Write down your needs and goals. Lift up and be lifted up. Change the picture to include the whole family at the top of the mountain.