I am a 47 year old woman who has been a member of many families. First, there is the family I was born into. I am the second child in a family with three children. I am the only girl with two brothers. I lived with my two brothers and my mother and father until I was 18 years old. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s which was a time that was different than growing up now. We didn’t have all of the technology that kids have these days. I think of it as a simpler time, but to be honest that may be because I was a kid and didn’t have the responsibilities I have as an adult. I don’t know if my parents would call it simpler. My family was far from perfect. We had our struggles, and our good times. We had dysfunction and we had function. But over all when I look back on my childhood, I remember being cared for and not worrying too much. We had food on the table, and were taken to the doctor and dentist regularly. My father always had a job and we always had a house to live in. My parents did the best they could, and frankly I think they did a good job.
Then there was my Navy family. When I was 18 I joined the Navy and my coworkers became my “family”. We all shared a similar vision, and frame of reference. I think in many cases people in the military bond so well because “teamwork” is talked about all the time, and we are in such close quarters, both living and working. If you are a young person in the military you probably live with your shipmates (or fellow soldiers as the case may be), and so a certain camaraderie and sense of “family” is established.
So now I am a grown up and have a family of my own. However, my family is different than many other families and I am going to tell you why:
I believe that kids should get good grades. Getting an education gives you options, as I always tell my kids, and unfortunately for my 16 year old, I talk about his grades and his education ad nauseum.
I have always expected my kids to get a job when they turn 16. I am relentless about them looking for work. I make them keep a list of the places they have applied and the dates, so they know when to contact the managers and check up on their applications. I have done this for the 20 year old, the 18 year old and most recently the 16 year old. These days it is not as easy for a young person to get a job and follow up is very important. The squeaky wheel get the grease, and the kid who goes back week after week to “check in” with the manager of a place of employment gets the job. (The 20 year old, 18 year old and 16 year old have jobs by the way)
My “adult” graduated from high school children pay rent if they live in my house after graduation. Now before you get upset about that, you need to know that it is a very small amount, and I actually put it aside and give it back to them when they move out so they can use it to buy things they need for their own apartment. I believe that a young adult needs to understand responsibility and staying in our pocket forever will not do that for them.
A big way our family is different than most is that the teenagers in my household do NOT get a cell phone unless they can pay their bill themselves. We do have them on our phone plan so their bill is only $50.00 per month, but since they earn an allowance, they use it to pay their bill first, and then use the rest for their own enjoyment. We feel as though a phone is a luxury not a necessity, and luxuries need to be funded by the person who wants said luxury. If they blow their money and can’t pay the phone bill, I suspend the phone line, so it can’t be used until it can be paid for. Isn’t that what will happen to me if I don’t pay my bills? Why not teach them the responsibility of paying bills while they are teenagers?
There are also many ways my family is JUST LIKE millions of other families. We fight with each other, but are fiercely loyal to each other. We joke around and have fun with each other. We love each other and can’t stand each other alternately. (Some days more than others). Sometimes our feelings for each other change on an hourly, even moment by moment basis.
So, you can see that just like millions of families around the world, our family is just like some families and very different from other families! The differences and the way we parent makes a significant impact on the kind of adults we are raising, and we really want more than anything else to raise adults who are kind, caring, responsible, compassionate, productive members of society.
Oh, and I suppose I forgot to mention that one other small way our family is different than others. We are a two mom household. And believe it or not that makes NO difference at all in the way our family functions, or how we relate to each other. It doesn’t change the fact that our kids play sports on school teams, that one son is a Boy Scout, that we like to be together, and we need space from each other. We fight and love and laugh together. Having a family with same gendered parents does not make our family function any differently than any other family, and it isn’t better or worse.
It just is what it is, and we are quite happy with it!
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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