Large Families: Knowing your Children as Individuals
The major challenge I have in raising a large family is making time for each of my children as separate individuals. It is my belief that everyone is a little bit narcissistic, and children are the most self-centered of all. They want someone to love them best. This is not only true for the kids of a family with 1.2 children, but even more so for my family of 12 children. In large measure, this need for children to receive exclusive love and attention can become the basis for sibling rivalry.
Over the years, I have found some good ways to establish a personal connection to my children. Some of these ideas cost money, but others are free. Take what you like and leave the rest.
Take your teen for a power walk
Teenagers share best when you avoid putting them on the spot with eye contact. Walking side by side is perfect. Exercise revs up endorphins so walking will make them associate you with good feelings. Don't say too much, just listen and validate.
Keep your child home from school
Choose a day you know he has no tests or other academic biggies. Spend the whole day doing what your child likes best, just the two of you.
Give your child a cooking lesson
Make a favorite recipe that is geared to his/her age. Notice what your child does well and give a specific compliment, such as, "You're really good at chopping. That diced garlic you made is so tiny and even! Not everyone can do it that well."
Take your child out to a restaurant
Go to a café -- just the two fo you. Try not to correct his/her manners. Just make small talk and enjoy. Promise the others you'll take them out alone, too, and follow through!
Buy your child a treat
Make sure it's her/her favorite. Tell him that the gift is a secret between the two of you because you know how much he/she likes this treat. This can be a favorite chocolate bar or even just a square of that chocolate if money is tight. The idea is that you thought of what your child likes best.