One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I grew up in a world called Family. I was surrounded by Family at almost all times. I lived at the end of a row of six houses that were all Family. My father was one of eight children, and his parents also raised two of his cousins. My mother is one of five children. Holidays, birthdays, weekends and summers were spent in a swarm of parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, second cousins, aunts, uncles and cousins of all ages. It seems, in my memory, as though there were always babies being born, children were almost always around to play with, and the delightful murmur of voices cradled me from every side.

I gained so much from growing up in such a group of people.

When I became a mother, I pictured my children growing up in the hum of so much family. I pictured weekends with adults playing cards while the children played past bedtime. I pictured holidays where we rushed to the gatherings early in the mornings, and stayed until late in the evening, visiting and enjoying one another’s company. I pictured my children sleeping over at aunt and uncle’s houses, excited to play with their cousins. I pictured cousins having pajama parties at our house.

But one of the realities of life, especially in parenting, is that Mama is not the only one in the game. In our case, we started out our parenting journey, with me having a difficult pregnancy and 600+ miles to our closest relative. We made the choice, at five months pregnant, to quit our jobs, move back closer to family, and start over. Again, though, there was a “but”. But, Papa is from the Kansas City area of Missouri, and I am from northern Kentucky, in the Cincinnati area. So, “family” wasn’t a union where we would all be together for birthday parties, or taking turns at holidays. We had to choose which family we would live closer to.

In that space, we made the choice to go to Missouri, to be closer to Papa’s family. Papa’s family is wonderful. They are kind, and loving, and helpful. They have been there for births, birthday parties, and holidays. They have watched the kids for me to help me get gifts made before they were due. I treasure them. But, Papa’s parents were both only children, so the flurry of people isn’t present at holidays and birthdays. There are only two sets of aunts and uncles for my children, instead of the thirteen that I grew up with. Instead of being one of twenty-five cousins, my children have known only three, all of whom are a fair amount older; too much older for pajama parties. Holiday traditions are different. We typically meet for a late lunch or an early dinner, and then everyone visits for an hour or so and goes home. The long days and mayhem are not so much their style. And my children have thrived. They have loved their holidays, birthdays, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. They have loved what they had because it is what they knew.

I replaced the close relationships that my parents and their siblings had with close friends who have children similar in age to my children. I have replaced late night card games with afternoon knitting groups. I have replaced summertime family parties at the pool with summers at the spray park with good friends. I was born into a village, so to speak. My children were not. I had to create their village, and my own parenting village. And I did. And it is a lovely village.

But… But I missed my world called Family. And I missed it all the time. I missed it on Saturday evenings, sitting by myself while the kids slept and Papa did school work. I missed it on Easter morning, when there was no mad dash to get ready to go to Grandma’s house. I missed it at birthday parties when we had to whittle out lists of who to invite, instead of already knowing. I missed the crowd. I missed my family.

And so, with a lot of tears, and a lot of courage, we made the decision to move back to Ohio, to be near my Family. The house was already on the market, as we had already made the decision to move to a farm. Papa found a new job in Ohio. And this week, we are beginning our journey to living in Ohio!

We hope that our house will sell quickly so that we can buy our perfect farm soon. And we are looking forward to the round of summer birthday parties!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child’s grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family…
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What’s Next can’t imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son’s life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt… until she remembers what it’s actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My ‘high-needs’ child and ‘strangers’ — With a ‘high-needs’ daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter’s extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family’s summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the “village” even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don’t get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must’ve been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don’t have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs– Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn’t an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We’re Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.


8 thoughts on “One Size Doesn’t Fit All

  1. Wow, so inspiring and touching! Best of luck with the move! Though I’m sure it will all fall into place nicely, decisions made from the heart usually do 🙂


  2. You make growing up sound absolutely blissful! I have always wished we had a bigger, closer family, and when Tom and I started having kids, I daydreamed about a large family. I don’t know if I’ll get my wish in a blood family, but I do have many wonderful friends who are just as good as family 🙂


  3. Your childhood sounds very similar to mine … and I loved it! I missed having those sorts of family experiences for my kids when family lived far away, too. A lot can be done from a distance, but it’s wonderful that you’ll be able to experience those close family relationships again! 🙂 Deb @


  4. I have also felt much more connected to my own parents then my spouses even though they are nice people. I guess that’s natural really. As parents our expectations can be so different from our kids. For me the solitude of the bush was home – not what my own highly sociable mum was initially accustomed to. It will be really nice for you to feel more at home again and enjoy the family company!


  5. Wow, that really does sound like the ideal world to have grown up in. I’m so glad and excited for you that you get to try giving it to your children. It really is such a tradeoff when you have a partner! We live near neither family, but we face those same questions of which-one-this-time when it comes to travel and visits. Thanks for your story — it was lovely to live through the excitement of new possibilities vicariously! 🙂


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