I’m not going to talk about losing weight or being fat I want to share a little thing that I really believe has helped my little family to stay close, to relax, to be able to discuss our thoughts an opinion honestly and openly and to develop all of our literacy skills. We’re never too old to stop learning.
We are not a religious family, I believe in something and I’ve explored what that is over the years but I believe in a higher power I think… no I do. I’m not overly sure that higher power isn’t inside of us actually or if it’s inside of us spiritually. I’m a very spiritual person, i believe I’ve been prompted by ‘something’ at key times in my life and I’m not overly convinced that something is within me all of the time.
So… we don’t read the bible together or whatever scripture and don’t have things like bible study time or anything.
But we do read together. I’ve always loved to read and loved to be read to by my dad when I was little, it was my favourite time, I could lose myself in the story and listen to his fabulous accents and his animated style of reading. When I found out I was expecting my daughter the first thing I bought for her was a book and I started reading to her from day one. I would sit and nurse her and read and it soon became one of her favourite things to do and when my son came along he had the same introduction to literature and got a double dose when my daughter would also delight in reading her school books to him while I cooked dinner each night.
Even now my daughter’s 21 and my son is 14 (I call them the kids because they are but I know they’re adults more or less now, they’re my babies and always will be) they still love me to read to them. If they are sick or stressed or just fed up with the world they find it soothing, relaxing and comforting. Do I love that? You bet I do!
But another thing we have been doing since my son was about 10 is family reading. We choose together to read together. We usually choose quite meaty books these days as they become older, more sophisticated in their tastes and more inquisitive and opinionated about the world. So what we tend to do is choose a book each at Christmas for family reading and so we wind up with 3 books to take us through the year. We all read separately of course but family reading can sometimes be difficult to schedule when we are all busy but we do it when we can (at least once a week) for however long we can and we work our way through the 3 books. Sometimes if we’re on holidays we can work through half books at a time other times we may only manage a chapter if that a week. We share reading and we ask questions, answer questions, discuss our thoughts, thrash out meanings, applications to our lives today and such.
I have no doubt in my mind at all that this activity has kept my children safe and on the right path and it has helped them to be calm, reasonable, rational young people, wise beyond their years yet embracing of their youth and the great adventure that is. I have no doubt this has contributed to our closeness as a family and the ease with which we can talk to one another about problems, concerns, issues, observations and such. There is no awkwardness at all in our home, we love all being in the same room, we are comfortable together. I see other teens and young men and women around us, friends of my children, children of my friends and I teach hundreds of them and I hear so often how they don’t communicate with their parents or vice versa, how they don’t spend time together and I wonder how much effort they put into being a family and being together. It, like anything else needs some planning, thought and dedication and little things like sitting together with a book once a week really do help.
At the moment our three books are quite hard going, simply because they are throwing up so many discussion points and relating to so much of contemporary topical interest. The first is Tolstoy’s War and Peace, chosen by my daughter as she felt “it was time she read it”, the second I chose as my kids had been asking a lot of questions about Russia and the revolution so I chose Animal Farm by George Orwell (slightly smaller than my daughter’s choice, I also thought it would balance out the size thing) and thirdly my son chose 1984 again by Orwell as he had heard so much about Big Brother that he wanted to understand where it all came from, that name being attributed to the idea of being watched all of the time.
So yes, definitely not Pinocchio although when we did read that it too led to huge amounts of discussion about morality and a host of other things.
I’m not perfect, I’m not mother Earth but I firmly believe in these times we live we need to do all we can to keep our children close so that we are a strong influence holding our own amongst the host of other influences they have all around them all of the time, even in their own bedrooms they are no longer away from the world through the wonders of the internet and technology. A little bit of old fashioned family time can be hard to factor in but I think it is one of the most worthwhile things we do as a family, the benefits of it are endless and there is nothing wrong with raising kids who love literature, it opens up whole new worlds to them and allows them to imagine without everything being visually thrust down their throats set to some mind splitting thunderous music which confuses and bamboozles them and sometimes negates the need for them to develop mental pictures and make their own sense of what the words are telling them.
I’m not a preacher but if your family is happy, your life has one less problem in it waiting to knock you off your course.