This has been one of those trying weeks with lots of stuff going on ... emotional stuff. These kinds of weeks make me really stop to consider what is important and what is not.
1. I would say we kind of do things differently in our family, and always have. (Dawson's favorite phrase is, "We are an odd family.") That has resulted in some disapproval and ridicule over the years, and sometimes even some anger directed toward us. But I feel like we have to be strong in our convictions about what we want for our family.
2. After 20+ years of this parenting gig, I think we must have managed to do okay because we still have a strong relationship with all of our kids. They come to us for advice, actually choose to hang out with us, even seem to enjoy it when they do, and tell us way more than we want to hear at times. The big kids prefer to spend time at home with family than to go out. They actually like to spend time with their younger siblings, and sometimes even choose to do so over something else. The little kids adore their older siblings and count time spent with them as one of their favorite things to do. We actually like to be together!
3. Our family would much rather have the memories of family vacations than to have a big fancy house, nice cars, and nice things. Stuff doesn't matter. Memories do. And we have memories that will last a lifetime from the trips we have taken as a family, whether small or big ones. We have a big trip coming up and the memories from it will stay with us forever. To go on that big trip we are having to make other sacrifices. And we are gladly doing so.
4. We have gone against the grain to teach our children that they should look deep into their hearts to decide what they really want out of their lives and should push toward those goals, even if it doesn't mean doing things the traditional way. Being passionate about what you are doing means so much more than money. And making a life decision based on the opinions of others will almost always lead you down the wrong path and into one of misery.
5. Unconditional love is the most important thing. I can give my advice, sometimes solicited and sometimes not. But I want my children to know that even if they go completely against my advice and make a mistake, I will love them through it. That doesn't mean I will bail them out. It means I will accept them and will love them through their consequences. I can only hope they will never doubt my love for them.