3 Reasons I Expect My Teenager to Attend His Younger Siblings' Activities

A couple of evenings ago, my daughters had a recital and I required my oldest to attend. He wasn't exactly happy about it, because there was another event that he would have preferred to attend with his friends on the same night at around the same time. Given the fairly wide age gap between my oldest and his siblings, I can somewhat understand his reluctance to go. I realize that, at 15, he would MUCH rather hang out with his friends than his family, because when you're 15 that's what is important to you.

Here are three reasons why I made him come along anyway:

1. Family comes first. When we're sad, when we're tired, when we're weary, lonely, angry, or afraid, we turn to our family and they are there for us. Friends change and part ways, but family remains. It's important to nurture our familial relationships and support one another, even when we sometimes might want to be doing something else. My hope is that my kids will grow up knowing that sometimes we make small sacrifices for the ones we love.

2. Our family time is limited. With 6 people in our family working, going to school, doing homework, playing sports, and having various and sundry other activities, not to mention my son's visitation schedule with his father, as well as housework, laundry cleaning... well, you get the picture. With all that is going on in our very busy lives, and everything we have to work around, it is important for us to carve out time to spend together as a family as often as we can. And sometimes, that means that we forgo hanging out with our friends in order to support our siblings.

3. It's only fair. My oldest participates in a lot of extra-curricular activities, and my husband and I try to make sure that one (or both) of us is always there to support him. Because my husband works a lot of crazy hours, that often means that I am the one to be there. And because my three littles aren't old enough to be left home alone, that also means that they have to come along, whether they want to or not. Trust me when I say that sitting through hours-long baseball games with young kids who aren't really interested in watching sports, particularly when the weather isn't great, is not fun. At all. But we all do it, because it's important to him that we be there and it's important to us, as parents, that we be there. In all honesty, their events come around a lot less often right now than his do (note that I only require him to attend major functions, like recitals, plays, etc.). And I do not ask him to attend if there is a conflict with his commitments to school or team activities. So, if they can stick it out for three hours on a school night, loading up in the car to travel across town in rush-hour traffic, eating dinner on the run and getting to bed WAAAAY past bedtime, he can give them an hour on a Tuesday night in an air-conditioned auditorium.