Sunday, November 29, 2015
Horrible Christmas Dramas and Parenting Reflections
This thanksgiving weekend we accidentally watched the unenjoyable film The Fitzgerald Family Christmas (again, Netflix...you do me so wrong...I just want a good Christmas film option).
I don't even remember how many siblings there are in this film, but there are a lot -- and they are all pretty messed up...all for different (but typical, for films of this type) reasons. Mad husbands, vices of all sorts, personal ambition, and daddy issues.
Think Rachel Getting Married, but worst acting, worst story, no wedding, plus an Irish Catholic Christmas.
All that horribleness aside, perhaps it was because I recently watched the first episode of the TV show Bloodlines (also about family/siblings) that it I started thinking about my own children.
In both this film and the TV show there is the emphasis on all the children getting together for a parent-related events (holidays, birthdays, local honors) and the emphasis is that these siblings get together for the sake of the parents.
In thinking about my own children it is my hope that they enjoy each other, even long after my wife & I are gone.
As a result, one of my thoughts the past couple week has been asking "how can I ensure they enjoy each other?" And one of my thoughts has been "Get out of the way."
This has worked in my kids favor already (to my own detriment) in that on Thanksgiving eve when hosting our families annual piefest my kids decide to bust open a box full of packing peanuts. It was crazy. Very crazy.
And yet, my reflection was instantly on this thought that I get out of the way and ensure they have their own parent-free memories of good times together to strengthen their own bonds with one another. I even filled an empty spice jar with packing peanuts as a memorial to this horrible event (that ultimately led me to Walmart at 11:00 pm on the night before Thanksgiving to buy a shop vac. Thank you, Walmart).
In The Fitzgerald Family Christmas there is a lot of reasons why different siblings haven't connected with one another, and simple acts of memory making will not heal all wounds - not to mention, people change, experiences in life continue past the age you leave your parents home, spouses certainly plan a roll and other family developments.
But, also think as a parent of three children, I have an opportunity to foster experiences and if I can crack the code of making memories without being central to the memory, I want to figure it out.
My young kids still are parent dependent as you'd expect. They will fight over who gets to sit next to which parent at a meal, on the couch, at a move theater. But if I can let them explore, give them a perimeter for them to tackle together then maybe I can foster a flame between them that last long after they leave my house.