Parenting Style: What Kind of Parent Are You?

I recently had a text conversation with a friend who, despite our similarities in family size, is the polar opposite of myself.  Seriously.  However, I value our friendship and enjoy conversing because we can relate to each other on a strictly “more is better” philosophy. For me it’s fantastic to hear that she finds clothes still on the hanger in the dirty laundry and old apples under beds, and half drunk sodas (soda that was snuck, mind you) in dresser drawers.  Having a friend who can relate to the chaos and the choices and does not say, “Well you chose to have 11 kids” when I’m having a moment of weakness is such a blessing.  Having a friend who can put me in my place when I’m venting is invaluable.  And, having a friend who can offer solace when I am complaining about driving a “big ass” van is priceless.

But that is seriously where our similarities end.  We parent differently, our kids couldn’t be more different and what we see for them in the future is vastly different.  But this makes things interesting and sometimes, just sometimes, my perspective on things is altered.  You can almost always count on some sort of “disagreement” when we find time to chat.  And the other night was no different.  Both of us are solid in our parenting, we can’t be swayed and we know what we are doing is right for our family.  So last night when we were talking about  her kids the subject of  college came up.  Her family lives in FL and her oldest son applied to CU Boulder and was waiting for a response.  Kerry applied there, she was early accepted  and she is still trying to decide what it is that she wants to do.  For us that is a 4-hour distance, for them, it’s a 33-hour distance.  I off-handedly said I hope all our kids stay close, which started a conversation about hopes and dreams that our kids have for themselves and that which we have for them.   A lofty conversation for a text message, for sure, but we didn’t get too deep, primarily because I have self-inflicted ADD and forgot I was texting her in the middle of this conversation and partly because you can’t argue with either of us, we are typically right!  An admirable quality in a mom, for sure!

My friend responded to my statement by saying “In a perfect world” her children would stay close, but she’s “raised them to set goals and follow dreams.”  One of her daughters is leaving the country with her husband because he’s in the military, another is going across the country to study for a semester of her Sophomore year and her son is looking at colleges across the country. While my daughter, if she attends a 4-year college, will be staying in Colorado. 1) I can’t afford to pay out of state tuition (as if I can afford to pay in-state) 2) I think it’s imperative that she stay connected with us and that, in my opinion, is impossible if you can’t see and visit and touch and hug and laugh and hold and play and work together.

I responded, “Two different philosophies.”  To which she said, “Would you want them to give up their dreams and follow yours? Or just hope their dreams are yours?”  LOL, I expected this, I guess.  I don’t know what it is about moms, but we really do get our feathers ruffled when someone else is parenting differently.  I remember how enraged my in-laws were that Dan was marrying a Catholic.  They were so upset, they never gave me a chance.  I guess their biggest fear was that Dan would eventually convert, after all our agreement was that he would attend mass with me and we would raise our children in the Catholic church.  He did convert in 1998, btw, but we didn’t tell his parents because we are cowards. LOL I’ve tried flipping the tables and thinking how I would feel if one of my kids left the Church and I can tell you I would feel nothing less than HORROR. In fact, I would hope my children would marry a Catholic, so i understand Dan’s parents hesitation thoroughly.

But friends are slightly different.  Why should we care at all if someone disagrees with what we are doing.  People think I’m crazy for homeschooling my brood. “When do you get a break?”, “What about socialization?”, etc, I really don’t care.  I honestly do not care if I’m the only person in the world with the stay close philosophy.  If I’m the only person raising my children to get married and stay close, then  I’m the only person.  What does it matter?

But back to my friends questions as to whether I’d have them give up their dreams or simply assume mine. =) While I think independence cannot be overrated, I do believe that everyone’s main hopes and dreams ought to lie with their family. Their current family and their future family.  They ought to co-exist simultaneously.  My children, whether they likes it or not (though I’m certain they all are very aware of how blessed they are), have an obligation as an sisters and brothers and GodParents to remain in their siblings lives.  And, Dan & I have an obligation to our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and so on.  I don’t adhere to the 18 & out philosophy; we’re in this parenting thing for the long haul … till death do us part.

While I encourage them all to fully live their own life, set their own goals and pursue them relentlessly, I have taught my kids that first and foremost is God, then family, and then their own lives.   I believe this feeling comes from my own experience as a young mom.  Our mothers were busy with their own lives, other family members, travelling, working, etc.  They didn’t have the time to be involved grandparents.  What I would have given for an older woman to bounce ideas off of, to encourage me, to tell me spitting up was normal, that a runny nose did not, in fact mean leukemia and someone to just talk to and laugh with and enjoy.  Someone I trusted, someone I loved for 5 or 10 minutes per day would have been delightful.  The fact that we had none of this, the fact that we had zero family involvement made our move across the country inevitable.

Titus 2:4-5 commands that older women are to encourage the younger women to be keepers of the home and to love their husbands and their children.  Who better to encourage this than mothers and mother-in-laws.  Who better to reap the benefit of that command than our own daughters and daughters-in-law?   I really believe that my children and their spouses will be greatly missing out if they ignore this command.  Titus 2:1-3,11 deals primarily  with the situation of Christians developing their own lifestyle within the civic society.  Titus is encouraged to hold on to sound teaching while resisting pressures from all sides.  Christians must not act in accordance with the world around them.. Paul’s instructions focus on how to survive while offering an alternative lifestyle and developing integrity as Christians.

We are a living example of this, I think.  While I do not espouse to be worthy, I do try ever so hard and believe I’m been blessed from infancy with the ability to shun the norm.  I honestly couldn’t care less if you agree with anything I do, which I think is another similarity I share with my above mentioned friend.  Dan and I do embrace an alternative lifestyle and our daily focus is on integrity and resisting pressures from the outside world as well as forging inseperable bonds, honing in on individuals skills and having as much fun as humanly possible on a daily basis.  As much as we all would like to believe otherwise, the outside world is not an inviting, loving, peaceful place.  A family is.  The outside world wants to corrupt, it wants to make sinners out of all of us.  A family does not. The outside world is filled with sex, drugs, violence and alcohol.  The family is filled with love, devotion and sacrifice for all.  Which would you rather your adult children embrace?

Further, siblings are gifts from God.  Dan and I will not be around forever (or so I’m told), but God has blessed all 11 of my children with 10 best friends for life.  11 people who will always have each others back, who will always be there to kayak with, snowboard with, help move, help build decks, watch each others children, be Godparents for each others children, vacation with, give counsel to, celebrate birthdays, engagements, etc.  I simply can’t imagine that immense blessing and believe it would be nothing less than a travesty were they to squander it by moving such enormous distances as to make it impossible to see each other daily if they wanted. How will they know each others children?  How will they know each others spouses?  The truth is once you move away physically you move away emotionally.  I know this is fact, I lived it.

So, until teleporting is a reality, Dan and I will encourage, gently encourage and continue to teach our chldren that strong families are the antidote to the chaos of the real world.  We will continue to equally encourage them to embrace their dreams and relentlessly follow them, but to always always be sure to land at home at the end of the day.

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  1. says: Mandy Connor

    This is a though inducing blog, I wasn’t expecting to think this morning. Off the cuff I would’ve said I agreed with your friend. 18 & out onto your own life. However, upon reading this, you make a compelling case. I moved away and met my husband here, in his hometown. I have the blessing of my MIL and FIL and all his brothers and sisters. Why would I not want this for my kids? I forwarded this to my husband, I’ll be interested to see what he has to say. Thanks! Mandy

  2. says: Christine

    I love my kids more than anything, but I’m with said friend. I want my kids to go wherever their dreams take them. I have one who will never stray far from home, one who is already planning her escape to NYC. I know that no matter where they are they will find time for eachother. My kids have grown up with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents loving them from near and far. We have that connection and they have seen the effort we make to visit and spend time with our families. However, Susie for your family you are probably right. You are creating a new Kellogg generation. Starting fresh with new standards of what family is. Many of my family members think I’m off my rocker, but they still support us.

  3. says: Andrew

    The thing I appreciate about you and your family is you truly march to a different drummer. My wife and I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic. Certainly it is do-able to maintain relationships with family from afar, but you are not truly involved. Phone calls, once or twice a year visits are great and admirable, but you aren’t there for the everyday things. I surely hope our children spread their proverbial wings and nest right here. Obligations are something many shuck, especially family obligations.

  4. says: Jennifer

    I read all your blogs and I rarely agree, but I do love your family and whatever you are doing definitely is working because your children are fantastic. You obviously take a lot of time to help your children find their skills and talents, which must be a never-ending job because they are such talented people. However, I’ve been of the 18 & out philosophy. I’ve done my job, time for you to put into action the things I’ve taught you. I still feel this way. That being said, I’m slowly being swayed by your family, that perhaps it is possible to shelter our children and not have them be complete hermits? My husband and I didn’t think it was possible to be well socialized and sheltered. You’ve proven us wrong. No 18 year old pregnant girls, no drug issues, no rebellion, but yet they appear worldly in all their interests. You’re right, it is nice to hear differing views because every once in awhile you’ll be ever so changed.

  5. says: Kim

    Oh my God I totally disagree with this. Sorry, but this is so selfish. You can spin it however you want, but you are totally a helicopter parent. It’s amazing your children aren’t fighting your overbearing ways at every step. I guess you have them brainwashed or you’ve beaten them into submission.

    1. says: susie

      LOL, thanks!!! ha ha ha For the record, never laid one hand on any of my kids, I just love them into submission … really!! =0

  6. says: layla M.

    Oh I agree, there is nothing more important in this life than family and no matter what anyone thinks you cannot be as close to someone who lives hours and hours away as you can to someone you see on a daily basis. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it makes the relationship dead.

    1. says: Erica

      I agree with you 100%. I am the mom of 4 boys and 2 girls and to see them leave and disperse across the country would be heart breaking. My friends with one or two kids are all about their kids moving out and getting on with their larger than life lives. It’s sad.

  7. says: Susan

    Well, seeing as I am ‘said friend’, I’m gonna add my 2 cents!
    1st, this is why I don’t like conversations via text, you can never truly feel the tone. That said, I do agree with you & support your parenting style!I’ve never seen us as “polar opposites”, far from it.
    I’ve never believed in “18 & out”, never will. I would love nothing more than to see ALL of my kids EVERYDAY as long as my days on earth allow.(After which I plan to hover over them from above for all eternity!) I hold them as close as I can & try to keep the world at arms length. In my ‘perfect world’ I would have a huge plot of land where they could each have a corner (think decagon)with me smack in the middle of them all! Sadly that’s not my reality. When Sierra married & began having kids of her own she also gained in-laws who we now share holidays, etc with. I’m happy I’ve been able to be the Grammie to my grandkids that my mother never was. I’ve been there since Baelynn took her first breath & have seen them almost everyday since – the military is the only reason that’s gonna change.
    I also don’t think our kids are that different. They’ve been raised to respect, uphold & serve God, family, country before self. They are each others best friends, first playmates, partners in crime (& in prayer), cheering squad, confidant & Godparents ~ they are family first but also individuals. They, like Gavin & I, support & encourage, but also miss, them as they go off on adventures – near & far. Yes, Em is going 1000 miles up the coast for 15 wks. It’ll be hard but we’re all excited for her. Dillon’s dream school is CU, but like you said out-of-state tuition is out of the question. He’s determined to find funding! Gavin has done great without a 4yr degree so I’m not one to force it on the kids – Dillon is adamant about college & degree. In-state, (thank you Jesus) scholarships will pay for most of it!
    I do love you, your kiddos & our ‘healthy debates’! I especially LOVE having a sister who ‘gets it’!!! (If you find the source of the contraband soda let me know, id like to get my hands on them!!)
    Ok, more than 2 cents…<3

  8. says: Susan

    And for what it’s worth, I would never say, “well, you chose to have 11 kids…” You were chosen!!! And after being side-swiped recently I’m betting my ‘big-ass’ van is now more ghetto than your ‘big-ass’ van!!! =o)

  9. says: Carla

    I’ve always felt this but lacked the words for it. It’s embarrassing to say in public in this society that I want my daughters to get married and have children. It’s embarrassing to admit to the fact that I don’t want them to move away, that I want them to live a simple beautiful life. It’s embarrassing to take ownership of the fact that I don’t have medical or legal aspirations for them. What is your view on these things? On college? Thanks, I really admire you and your family. Carla

  10. says: Rayford

    A thoughtful opinion, I admit, I never thought of the alternative. We mimic the way we were raised and I did the college thing, the job thing, the get married and have kids thing. Of course I moved away for college and then for a job and needless to say I am now 1200 miles from my family and we are not tight. It would be interesting to “gently encourage” our kids to stay close and to mentor each other. I’m an older dad, having had our youngest daughter at 49 and so we will be moving on from this earth much earlier in her young life – with age comes increased knowledge. I’m intrigued by your blog today.

  11. says: Alaine Macchia

    Excellent blog! I’d love to guest blog on your site and if you’re interested, it would be amazing to have you do the same on mine? You guys are awesome!

  12. says: Abby

    It all boils down to what you focus on as a parent. Is it education, is it family, is it sports, or is it a combination of all three? I think I agree with one of the posters in that it really seems like you guys are different than most families. You are all obviously very close and dont’ have family involvement, so you are raising a new generation. I’ve never seen another family enjoy each others company so much and do such extreme things. You probably have to stay close in order to find people to do all those things with.

  13. says: Becky

    I never ever thought about any of this before. I guess I always thought you raise your kids and they leave and you visit a few times a year. To think I could encourage otherwise is a little overwhelming. I love your family.

  14. says: Carter

    As if 18 years aren’t enough. Kidding. I was emancipated at 15 and pregnant at 16 and again at 18. It was a hard life and I wish I had people in my life who gave a damn. I am now 32 and the mom to one beautiful boy and a sweet little girl. I am married and I’ve worked very hard to turn my life around and after succeeding there is no way I will ever let my children turn to anyone but myself. In short, I agree fully. Many blessings to you and your family.

  15. says: Londyn

    My parents are raising me and my sister with this expectation. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to want your family to stay close. They have both said the same thing, “We won’t always be here.” From a16 year-old perspective I think you are right in what you are teaching them. I can’t imagine not being with my sister, my mom or my dad every day. And FWIW, I’m a straight A student, I have a scholarship waiting for me when I graduate, I’m an actress and a dancer and not an uneducated nitwit who is going to live WITH her parents her whole life. =)

  16. says: Gina

    How can anyone not agree with this post? She is simply saying that families need to stick together and not separate to the extents that they do. Dreams and hopes and faith can be cultivated anywhere at any time. It’s not location that is limiting, it’s imagination.

  17. says: Andrea

    You really need to get your blogs higher visibility. They are so diverse and well written. You never know what your next thought will be. Love it.

  18. says: Cindy

    The exhausted kind. The kind that works 9.5 hours and then comes home and works another 3 or 4. Not everyone has the luxury of staying home and “playing” all day.

  19. says: Kelly Carter

    Hmmm…..I guess I am on the fence with this one. I have two daughters and a step-daughter that all live in a different state then we do. This isn’t by choice mind you but, we (my husband and I) have never been ones to sit in one place. My husband is a plumber by trade, we met 24 years ago when we both worked for a carnival (yes,I know, I can hear all the snickering now), and my mom says I’ve always had “the soul of a gypsy,” never wanting to stay in one place for two long. I was 16 when I left home for the first time, I moved several hours away, in the same state but, I left home and had a job dispatching trucks at a lumber yard, had my own house and bills and everything, I did end up going back home to mom but, a couple years later was when I “ran away with the carnival” as my mother says it. We lived in probably four different places when my kids were younger. When our oldest daughter was 17, she expressed a wish to move back to lower Michigan (we were living in the U.P. (upper peninsula) at the time, we didn’t stop her, she said she wanted to be closer to the rest of the family, (both of our families live in and around the Detroit area) and how could we argue with that? She ultimately ended up meeting her future husband while attending high school and he joined the navy, they now live in California and I will be going to visit them at the end of April as my oldest child is expecting her first child and I have to be there for that. My middle daughter lives in Michigan where all of her family is, and my youngest daughter who I was lucky enough to inherit upon marrying my hubs, recently moved to Texas with her fiance. Our little (in comparison to your) family is spread to the winds as we live in West Virginia. I do wish they were closer, but I also understand being I have been “running away from home” over and over since I was 16. And I married a man that has the same problem with staying put. We’ve lived here in WV for three years now, a record for us since way back when we lived in the U.P. (which we lived there for five years), and I have to be honest when I say, I have been longing to live in a more tropical place, the snow and cold don’t agree with my aging body anymore. Lol I say again, kudos to you Kellogg family.

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