I’m working hard to be mindful of my children's individual differences, and their personalities affect how I parent them.
One of the trickiest parts of having a large family, I’ve found, is making sure each of my children has the unique combination of things they need to thrive.
They are each so different, and I spend a lot of time strategizing how to get them what they need. As the great educator Charlotte Mason once said, “A mother owes her children a thinking love.” It’s not easy, but I’ve found some solutions.
One child needs more social interaction and intellectual stimulation, so she attends classes outside our home two mornings a week.
Another child needs more active outdoor exploration, so he attends a weekly “adventure camp,” roaming through the forest and playing sports outside with other boys.
And one of my children, my daughter, is a little different from the others. Unlike her boisterous, rough-and-tumble siblings, she’s a gentle and introverted homebody.
When I ask my kids, “What do you want to talk about?”, the others always give me an earful. But this little girl usually says, “Oh, nothing.” She enjoys the silence.
With her quiet personality, at times she is overshadowed by her louder siblings. So I realized that what she needs is more alone time and focused attention at home with me.
But how to make this possible? I homeschool my children, so they spend most of their time at home, being very loud and filling the house with their energy and commotion.
I pondered it for a while, and finally had the idea to combine the other children’s activities so they all fall on Thursday. The other children all go out of the house for classes and camps on the same day, and the baby naps.
SoThursday becomes my little girl’s “special day with mom.” She chooses the activities, generally some combination of reading books together and making creative art projects. (She loves to make art, and her stated career aspiration is to be “an art historian at The Art Institute of Chicago.” From her lips to God’s ears! We are doing all we can to support her.)
She and I are so happy having this time together — it’s refreshing for us both.
I know some might say the “special alone days with mom” should be shared equally among all my children, but I don’t think so. When it comes to siblings and fairness, I think it’s more important to give each child what they individually need than to obsess over making everything “equal” among them.
Each of my children do get alone time with me, in different ways, whether it’s a special bedtime routine or a one-on-one trip to the local coffee shop. But I’m working hard to be mindful of their individual differences, and their personalities affect how I parent them.
My other children need different things, and they are getting the activities that help them to flourish. This little one needs to do less, not more; she needs more quiet time at home, and less outside activity and stimulation.
So while her siblings are out conquering the world, my little girl and I will be here, snuggling on the couch reading books and filling our home with handcrafted artwork. And we couldn’t be happier.