Thanksgiving is….stability for the kids

by mendibpng

The biggest benefit to being in one place for an extended period of time, aside from all of my own personal reasons, is that our kids are thriving. It’s not that they weren’t thriving before, but having months and months in one place affords a sense of Normal to their relationships to each other and to us. The older kids really give their younger siblings a richness to their every day experience. The little ones, in return, give the older ones a chance to maintain their childhood. When I came back from a run earlier this this week (on a day off from school), Noah and Ellie had made tents for Jacob and Jenny Beth out of blankets in the living room. Noah had set up a movie under the ‘boys tent’ and Ellie played dolls with JB in the ‘girl’s tent.’ Later the girls played hide and seek, and afterwards all four of them played with the army guys set. All of this happened without parental involvement or supervision. I don’t think my almost 10 year old and 12 year olds would stoop to those childish games if they didn’t have four year old siblings around. I love that!

Having stability has also given us a chance to address some underlying frustrations between the older set and the younger ones…the little ones nick off with the big kids’ stuff or generally do attention seeking things that drive the older ones crazy. We sat down for a family meeting a while ago and talked to the older kids about what was happening. Before we did this, Ben and I agreed that we should do the ‘say 2 positive things’ before addressing the problems, and I think that really helped. We also gave the kids time to say how they felt things were going and to talk about what bothered them the most, while we offered validation and perspective on their little siblings. We talked about strategies to handle stressful situations and in the following weeks, we’ve tried to encourage them to use those strategies. I often don’t like the results when we are trying to teach things under duress, which is usually all we can do when we are in constant transition. Having more time to deal with things regularly is really helpful!

In the recent months I’ve noticed moments of harmony that had been lacking for the last couple of years–our teenager actually seeking out and enjoying the company of his little siblings or all five kids doing something fun together at their own initiative, like a spontaneous dance party last week. There have been times when I’ve looked around my living room after school to find all of my children in the same place, just hanging out and talking to each other.

I love it.

I think, too, that all of the kids are thriving in school, not only because they are benefiting from the amazing school and teachers that they have, but also because they aren’t in transition so much. I’m not saying that we won’t put ourselves back into transition, or that we regret the life we’ve been called to, but I’m thankful for times like these–a ‘working sabbatical’ if I can call it that–where we’re giving ourselves time to enjoy stability.


4 Comments to “Thanksgiving is….stability for the kids”

  1. Another great Living Letters post. So great to hear how the kids are getting along and how you guys are communicating with them about that. Stability is nice when you can get it ! So glad you all have been able to get an extra measure of that recently. And what a beautiful picture of Ellie and Jenny Beth ! So cute to hear of the spontaneous “boys” and “girls” tents. : ) Lots of Love, Dad (Grandpa) And “Happy Birthday Ellie !!” Wow!! Ten years old ! It hardly seems possible. We love you very much !!!!!

    Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 05:40:44 +0000 To:

  2. Mandy and Ben, It reminds me of the verse about how the Lord orders the steps of His children when I think about all the blessing you and the kids are deriving from this intentional “work from home” period. I know Dad joins me in applauding how you are teaching the children some good strategies for relating, coping under stress, and being appropriately assertive . Those are great life skills that add to their emotional maturity quotient. Savor the joy of all of your children under one roof. We savor those memories! Blessings on you all! Love, Oma and PapPap.

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