Choose Family

IMG_1532“So how many kids will this be for you two?” the woman said to me over the phone.

“This will be our fifth child,” I responded from the delivery room.

“Wow!” she responded. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, we are doing fine,” I responded with a little confusion as to what she was meaning.

“I mean, I have three kids and it’s driving me crazy,” she concluded.

This is similar to a number of conversations I have had ever since we were pregnant with our third child. With each additional child, the comments and questions about our sanity become more frequent and less concealed. Sometimes, I hope they will ask if I come from a big family. The look on their faces when I say, “I’m the youngest of 10,” is pretty fun.

Times have changed and, to some, five children is a lot of kids. It wasn’t too uncommon a few decades ago. With Father’s Day just two days ago, I have reflected on the choices we have made to have the kids we now have. Fortunately, we have been blessed with relative ease in getting pregnant. Each one has come after we have made a conscious decision to get pregnant and bring another child into our family. It’s not a decision we take lightly, but it’s not a decision we shy away from.

Family is an important part of our life and who we are.

I like to study big decisions people make and how they get through the hard times. One thing that makes it so interesting is in those critical moments, their strongest desires usually come through. For Benjamin Franklin, he wanted to succeed and make a name for himself, so he worked hard even though he had less than ideal mentors. For Jim Thorpe, he wanted to compete and do his best, no matter the obstacles that were in front of him. The Churchill Club felt strongly that the Nazi’s were wrong and did all they could to oppose it, despite personal danger or harm.

However, there are some that make knee jerk reactions, sometimes to avoid difficult situations, and find they have given up what they really value for a short-term gain. Growing up I heard older men say many times, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time at work and more time with my family.” Admitted less often, but just as true, could be said, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time chasing (fill in the blank) to the detriment of those I loved.”

Don’t take this as a soap-box post.

As I have looked at my new daughter, after 9 months of anticipation, I know it was the right decision. Family is the most important part of my life, next to God, so I don’t count the cost in career, lifestyle or freedom, when we think about having a child. When we decide to have a child, we ask ourselves, Can I love another child like I have loved the rest? Can I give another child a good home? I hope to evaluate my decision on the quality of my highest goal, rather than my current comfort or comparing with other people.

I listened to a podcast featuring Michael Hyatt. In that program, he discussed how he consciously chooses who he gives access to him and how much time he gives them. There isn’t a magic formula for the number of hours you need to spend with family, God and others; but knowing and proactively deciding how to spend your time is the key.

I am thankful for a good father, who taught me a lot in my life and continues to love all his children. I’m glad they didn’t stop at nine children. I am grateful for the learning and growing I am doing as a father, because it’s helping me become the person I should be.

For you:

Consider your life and what is most important to you. Are your decisions a reflection of those values? Do you spend a considerable amount of time on what’s most important to you?

About

I started writing short stories in elementary school, starting with a short story about twin track athletes. In college, I wrote for the college newspaper and studied communications. My first job out of college was with a magazine as an assistant editor, where I started a comic strip called City Boy.

My first published work, was a short essay entitled, Dream with Me, published in “The Art of Service” booklet put out by the Thayne Center for Service and Learning. I also published a three part series for families called “Family Parables – Wise Man Foolish Man.” This set is designed to be used by families to create discussion and learning as a family. I soon will publish my first novel, Love Like Alzheimer’s, a story of a family that is learning to love deeper as their beloved grandmother struggles with Alzheimer’s disease.

3 thoughts on “Choose Family
  1. Shauna Shelton says:

    Well said as always Ryan!

  2. This read was lovely. God must have known this was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for that message!

  3. Alan Curtis says:

    Thank you son. We’re also very glad we didn’t stop with 9 children.

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