I watched a documentary movie this weekend called Who Are The Debolts and Where Did They Get 19 Children? You can find it on iTunes or Amazon, and it will give you the secret to parenting and raising exceptional kids. It starts circa 1973. Dorothy and Bob marry, the second marriage for both. Together they have 4 biological children. And then the fun begins. They decide to adopt and adopt and adopt and adopt until they finally have 19 children. I know...seriously! I have an only child! The children they adopt were complicated. Some came from the last airlift out of Vietnam, traumatized both emotionally and physically from war. Some were from Korea, and some from the US. All had special needs. Many had serious physical disabilities. One of their daughters, Karen had no natural limbs, using prosthetics for both her arms and her legs. Other children had polio, or missing limbs and seriously handicapped, others blind. Like I said this is a complicated family. I cried the whole way through. (but in a good way)
What was their secret? Their secret and the gift they gave to their kids was that every single one of them, no matter how disabled, were expected to be their best. Not over and above, and not with pressured expectations, just with the belief that they were "able" to do whatever they set their minds to do. Bob and Dorothy would be there to support, but not cajole, convince or coddle. It's hard even to describe the "ableness" of these disabled kids, because they believed and saw themselves as mobile and as intelligent and as independent and "able" as any non-disabled child. Watching 9 yr old Karen, putting on her prosthetic limbs and then dressing herself was a feat worthy of an Olympic medal. Watching kids manage a grand staircase with crutches and braces on their own is awe inspiring. Watching the absolute love and affection shared among each other, and watching the fun these parents shared with their children support the notion that raising kids who believe in themselves, who want to challenge themselves to become the independent and successful adults we want all our children to become is really quite simple. Allow and encourage your kids to take risks and to challenge their comfort zone, provide support and expectations without pressure, and have fun...lots of fun.
I did some research to see how these kids in this special family fared as adults. All of them were living and working independently, most married with children and in loving relationships. Bob and Dorothy sold the family home in Southern California and retired to Northern California, wishing their kids well in their successful, and independent lives.
I walked away from this movie with so many life lessons. But also seeing the damage that our present technological culture is reaping onto our children. This was 1973, no computers, or cellphones. Kids were outside in nature, playing and discovering. The house was full of music and art and creativity. Bob and Dorothy took time for each child individually, making each of them feel important and unique. They opened the doors to the world both physically and metaphorically and expected that their kids would master it...and they did.
Vacation time is coming, down time, movie time. Snuggle in with your kids, or just yourself and experience the magic of this family.
Due to the Holiday Season I have decided to take a hiatus from Joani's Ten Minute Top Ten Parenting Tips. I will return on Jan 8th at 8 pm with the first in a four-part series on The Four Ways Of Fighting! Me and my blog will be here to support you through the holiday season!!
Also I'm booking winter and spring Ask The Expert Parties. Think tupperware parties, only for parenting. Invite a group of parents over to your home, maybe have a little food and wine, and I promise to entertain!! I can do a mini-presentation and them Q&A or I can tailor the party to your particular interests. Contact me at email@example.com for more info!
Having issues with your teens over the holidays, I am always available for parent coaching by phone. So no matter where you live, I'm only a phone call away. contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org