I have a confession to make. I am just back to writing articles after an extended hiatus (I was busy being a MOB—Mother of the Bride!). When I wrote the introduction to this series, I had a specific picture in mind, but I didn’t do a good of communicating it. I just might be a little rusty, and I hope you’ll forgive me.
I used the example of looking at different families in a restaurant and being able to identify the happy families there. Of course, that is ridiculous. None of us can look at anyone else and really know what his or her life is like. We can and do make assumptions; sometimes those are on target, and sometimes we’ve really missed the mark.
I know several families whose numbers include extraordinary children. Sometimes those families don’t fit the criteria society has laid out as being ‘normal’. The kids may be a little louder; they may not interact in the same way that some other children do. That doesn’t mean that these families are any less happy than those whose children might be termed typical.
Normal is a state of being that is unique for each family. Some might find their balance in living the country, raising lots of children and keeping life very basic. Others find it in the city or the suburbs, with one or two kids, or whatever combination of those things comes together to create a place where the parents are fulfilled and satisfied and the children are loved and secure.
When I wrote my restaurant scene, I was remembering something quite specific. We were having dinner, all six of us, and nearby sat a multi-generational family. There were the grandparents, the parents and two children, a boy and a girl. Though neither of the kids was tremendously well behaved, the daughter—probably aged 6 or 7– was clearly the one running the show. She was loudly demanding, rude to the wait staff and to her own family. No one corrected her, and it was obvious that her parents and grandparents were sitting tensely, waiting for her next set of demands or the ensuing tantrum.
As far as I could tell, this child was typical, but truthfully, I had no way of knowing. My strongest impression was that her behavior—and the imbalance in her family that appeared to be both the cause and the effect of her actions-was preventing her family was being as happy as they could be. And that perception, right or wrong, is what spurred this article series. I don’t think I have the corner on familial bliss, but I do think I’ve had enough—ahem!-experience to share some of my lessons.
We all need to understand that happiness and fulfillment is found in different ways. What’s normal for my family might make your family really unhappy, and what makes us glad might seem really strange to you. That’s okay.
What I’m aiming to accomplish in this article series is an examination of the general principles that go toward creating balance, satisfaction, security—and therefore a rough definition of happiness—in any family, regardless of its circumstances or challenges. Will every principle apply to every family? Certainly not. That’s why these articles are just guidelines, suggestions. . .take what works and leave what doesn’t. Use them as building blocks for finding your own normal.
And when you find that, I hope you also find your happy place.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Who’s In Charge
Tawdra Kandle has completed 3 young adult novels and is currently working on her forth. She is a contributor for Taking Time for Mommy – Online Magazine for Moms sharing her homeschooling adventures and couponing tips. She is also an administrator of the Time 4 Mommy Community and heads up our .
You can find Tawdra on Twitter and follow her blog Publishing Quest.