An ultra marathoner has a crew, especially if it’s a difficult 100 miler. You, know…those people that take care of the runner…sometimes pacing…sometimes taking care of blisters and feet…sometimes encouraging…other times admonishing. A lead cyclist in the Tour has somewhat the same thing….the Domestique…the workers….pulling the team…protecting the lead cyclist of the time…working together…a unit…a fine tuned machine.
My wife and I look at our family in somewhat the same way…oh….she doesn’t think about ultra crews or domesiques…but that is how I relate it. A unit…a Team….in fact we both refer to our family as a whole as Team Elliott…all 6 of us…and with that, Bren and I both have made attempts to create an Esprit de Corps.
It is encouraging how we see our kids help out each other. We often get comments from outsiders as how well our kids get along…usually followed up with the question, “Do they ever argue or fight?”…To answer that question honestly…”Hardly ever.” Sometimes Luke may pick on Macy and Hope…usually in fun…and sometimes the get upset with him…but it is nearly always short lived. This usually has a follow up question…”What do we do to keep them from fighting.” Frankly, I have to credit my wife with that…and how they behave…and support one another….and that got me thinking. What do we, as parents, do to foster such behavior? How do we create an Esprit de Corps? Why is that Luke is already asking when he and Kyle can share a room…and why did my girls want to share a room? Why is that I have seen Luke willing to take the blame for something that Macy has done…and why have I seen Macy run to the defense of Luke? My wife and I began to discuss…and below are some of my thoughts. Yes…I also believe some of them are transferable to the business world…and others are unique to a family.
One of Bren’s favorite mantras is “The World Does NOT Revolve around You.” (I usually respond in jest, that it does around me…cause I pick origin of the coordinate system. All the engineers just chuckled..the rest of you either rolled your eyes or looked confused.) I hear her say this Mantra nearly once a week. It was something we taught our kids from birth…even when Luke was the only one for a while…and we never acted like the world stopped on their command…or when they threw temper tantrums…Nope…throw a fit…and then go sit in time out…heck…Luke sat in time out so much he broke the time out chair by the time he was 3. The world doesn’t revolve around you…or anyone else…simple fact of life. It seems to be easier to learn this with the more kids you have I think…Kyle will know that the world does not revolve around him by the time he can verbalize his thoughts. We now have 4 kids that know that it is not all about them…but each other.
That brings me to my next point…Bren has made a very concerted effort to teach the kids to be thoughtful of others. We as family usually adopt family at Christmas. Our kids have "financially adopted" a Child in Guatemala through a foundation….they see what the money does and how it helps the child or the family. And from this, we try to parlay it into being thoughtful of your siblings. One of the coolest things is seeing one of your children really proud of the accomplishments of their brother or sister. Watching them brag on each other to outsiders is kinda cool.
Bren and I do our best to not create an environment to where there is resentment of the siblings. We never to say, “Why can’t you do that like your sister.”…or “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” We understand that each kid has different gifts…and do everything we can to help develop those gifts and interest. We don’t compare the grades of the siblings…only that they do their absolute best in all they do and compete with their classmates. In fact, the grades of each child are known only to us…Mom and Dad….trust me….that is enough pressure.
There are days when the kids will come home from school and have had a rough day. We have made every effort to make home the refuge from the storms of life. Bren will say nearly every week that at the end of the day you will always have each other. You may have a "so called" friend impale you in the back to the hilt...but you can always rely on the love of your brother or sister. I am always trying to instill the loyalty you have with each other. We may have our differences in house...but when it comes to the outside world..."I have my siblings' back." I have seen how that has helped bond our kids.
Lastly…we try to spend quality time together as a unit….we try to eat dinner together in the evenings. Sometimes this proves really difficult with all the activities. We take at least one vacation trip a year together as a family. We laugh a lot…sometimes we just like being silly. We don’t allow a lot of whining. In fact that is our family motto, “No Whining!”….just ask my 5 year old, Hope. More than once I have asked one of them when they get a little whiny…”What is our Motto?”…and “What are you doing right now?” That usually rings a bell with them and they usually quit.
Trust me…Bren and I have made a lot of mistakes parenting…but we try our best….pray a lot…laugh at ourselves…and by the Grace of God…we have been blessed.
p.s. We came up with the Team Elliott Logo...everything in it has a meaning...if you are interested about what it all means...email me at" delliott (@) timberlakedickson.com