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Promoting unity: Our family is a team

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

All for one, one for all

With the lengths my husband and I go through to make sure the kids are covered, it's really no wonder that sometimes the kids think it's all about them, that they can call the shots, that that universe revolves around them. Uh-uh.

What I'm really trying to teach them — and most of the time it comes through, I think — is that we are a team, in every sense of the word. A family team. We all play different, important positions, and the juggling we do are our offensive and defensive plays. A little corny, yes, but the sports analogy works better with the boys than a ballet analogy.

Ironically, it's when things have been rolling along rather smoothly that the kids forget the bigger picture (they are kids, after all). When the struggle to balance one's music lessons with our work schedule isn't a constant reminder, I sometimes sense that the kids are slipping into a sort of smug confidence that things will always be as they want them. It's then that I try to take an extra moment to remind them that, yes, things are going great and we appreciate and are thankful for that, but it took work to get to this place, and we must be careful and vigilant if it is to continue. Not too much, not a lecture (they are kids, after all), but a gentle reminder. I remind them that we are a unit, a set, and we have family goals in addition to our individual goals. We work together to meet those goals. This team approach also helps when one of us needs a little extra support to meet those individual goals. We rally behind the one who needs support, whether it's Dad when work is busy, Sunshine when she's potty training, Woody when he has a big school project due, Mom when she's working on a big deadline or Alfs when he has a band performance coming up. Who are the coaches in this analogy? My husband and I are the head coaches, of course, but we all coach and encourage each other. The team analogy isn't perfect: just dissect it a little further and it starts to fall apart. But it works for us, for the most part. Our family whole — our family team — is greater than the sum of its parts. Together we can do it all.

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