Sunday, December 25, 2011

Spotlight on Families: The Copelands

This post will be the easiest post to write because I don't have to write it! My dear friend Lara volunteered her brood as one of our Spotlight families! Lara and I met during undergrad at KU (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) where we received our degrees in English Education. Both of us shed our college coed personas to become mothers and wives. I absolutely love checking her blog to see all the fun things she is doing with her girls! Now that two of her daughters have performed in the Nutcracker, I'm secretly (not-so-secretly) living through her! I'm just a tad bit jealous of her experience. Rather than ramble on about how much I admire her, I will let Lara share her family with you all! Here's the Copeland family!(as told by Lara)

Squyres/Copeland family
Immediate family: Matt, Lara, and our daughters Kenli (6), Keira (5), Kaelyn (4), Makenzie (2.5), and Karys 9 months.
Extended family includes Alexandra Squyres (Lara's sister), Fran (Davidson) Squyres (Lara's mom), Sharyl Coffey (Matt's mom), Jerry Coffey (Matt's stepfather), John Copeland and Nancy Copeland (Matt's brother & sister-in-law),

Todd Coffey (Matt's stepbrother) and Chelsea Coffey (Matt's stepsister).
What makes us unique: Matt came from your average four person family. My parents divorced when I was four and my mom raised my sister and me, while my maternal grandmother stepped in as almost a second parent. Matt nor I ever planned on having many children, let alone 5 within 5.5 years. We've had to learn a lot about raising a larger than average family--which is hard when you come from an average size family (Matt's father passed away in 1999. When his mother remarried in 2006, he became part of a blended family).
How we make it work: Be flexible, willing to learn and willing to forgive. With such a young family, we're still learning how we make it work! We've made plenty of mistakes along the way, but we reevaluate, communicate, and continue to improve how we operate. Over the years we've learned we can't buy things like our parents did. We can't go out to eat or take vacations on a whim like some smaller families can. What we can do is show our children that we have a strong marriage and provide them with a foundation for love. We can teach them that the most important things in life aren't things--it's people. Yes our girls share rooms, clothes, toys and bathrooms--that's just part of being in a big family. But they also always have somebody to color with, tell secrets to, or hug. There's a simplicity that comes with living in a big family, but there's also noise and chaos--but rest assured it's mostly controlled. One tip I can give to anybody who is embarking on raising lots of little people-- if you can keep up on laundry and dishes, the rest of the house work will fall in to place. And if you can keep your kids on a somewhat flexible schedule, everybody will be a bit more flexible as well.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Duggars

Yesterday, I read an article about Mrs. Duggar's (I have no idea what her first name is) recent miscarriage. I'm the type of person, who skims through online articles and then takes my time reading the comments left by readers (does anyone else do this?). I was appalled at what many people said. It was almost like an "I told you so!" or "she got what she deserved" bashfest on the internet.

I do not pretend to know what possessed one woman to try to have 20 kids, but then again I don't really understand most families that aren't my own. I don't understand most families because they are different from my family. I think that's what consumers of the media really have a problem with, especially in regards to reality television; however, we are completely intrigued by them and tune in each week. I'll catch 19 Kids & Counting every so often, but I will sit and watch marathons of Sister Wives, Teen Mom, Kardashians, and any of the Real Housewives shows. Unlike most people, I can't watch too much Reality television too often because being a busy mom, I can't commit to watching the episodes each week. Instead I watch HGTV, wedding-related reality shows and Law & Order because I can watch when I can without having to know the backstories. I digress...

I truly think each and everyone of us suffers from the "their family is different from my family" syndrome. Instead of trying to understand where someone is coming from, we push our values and beliefs on them. Do I understand what it is like to be attracted to a member of my same-sex and want to start a family with them? Nope. Do I understand people who socially and politically conservative? Nope. Do I understand people who are radically liberal? Nope. Do I understand why someone would want to have 20+ children? Nope. However, I respect them and admire them for their commitment to their beliefs.

The people who commented on this article argue that their inappropriate statements toward the Duggars have to do with their concern for the children's well-being and Mrs. Duggar's health. "The older kids have to take care of the younger kids," "they don't get enough individual attention," and "the mom is risking her life."
If the kids learning responsibility at a young age is the only negative aspect of their child, I would deem Mr. and Mrs. Duggar ideal parents. Since I teach, I witness children who live in homes where no one hugs or says, "I love you." They have parents who work too much or who will not work to support the family. I have yet to see an episode where the Duggar parents didn't say I love you or express their love. I don't know how they provide individual attention to each child, but I assume they have some sort of system.

As someone who truly supports a woman's right to her own body, I support Mrs. Duggar's decision to have a large family. Mrs. Duggar does visit a physician, and I'm sure he has alerted her of the risks of having many children. The fact is that being pregnant is a risk no matter if it is your first or 20th. From what I have seen on the show, the Duggars lead a healthy lifestyle. The types of foods they eat are healthy and they have to eat in moderation with a family that size. I have yet to see her drink a glass of wine or any other alcohol. Their level of risk pales in comparison to most Americans who may drink, smoke cigarettes, eat highly processed foods, text while driving, etc.

I feel sorry for the Duggars as they experience this time of loss. Thankfully, they have each other to lean on for support. I hope people will be less judgmental and just plain mean in their comments. Finally, I hope that everyone will begin to respect, understand, and appreciate families that are different from their own.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spotlight on Families: The Wahls Family

Ironically, after posting about wanting families to share their stories, someone posted this link of Facebook. I think what makes Zach Wahls' story unique is not how normal he is despite his family situation, but how amazing he is! Who wouldn't be over-the-moon proud to have him as a son? Click here to see Zach's story!