Love, Always

“Giving love, in equal amounts.”

Raising amazing kids — an inside peek into a family who seems to have gotten it right.

For Don and Dale, Alex Franzen’s mom and dad. 

Ever been in the presence of a family who seems to just get it… right?

Where love and laughter flows, effortlessly?

Where the humility and respect is palpable?

When one sees it, one knows:

THAT’S “the real thing”.

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting such a family.

And for all the parents out there — wondering how to raise happy, healthy, amazing kids and keep the family unit strong — it is possible. Here’s a story that illustrates this.

Love, laughs and country music: How the story begins…

Not long ago, I had the privilege of meeting Don and Dale Franzen, the parents of my awesome writing coach, Alex. We met at a writing retreat that Alex was holding in Oregon. I was a participant.

Not only did Alex’s parents attend her teaching session, but they participated in the writing exercises as well. That was so special. Parents learning from their adult child!

I was struck by the humility that emanated from this mom and dad, and the pride and joy that radiated from them at the same time. 

Throughout the weekend, I was struck by the beautiful dynamic between Alex and her parents. The love, the laughter, the silliness, the country music blasting through her mom’s tiny cellphone speakers, the mutual respect and admiration that they expressed, for one another…

It touched my heart.

It’s true — what one sees on the outside is not always what’s happening behind closed doors, and I imagine that this family has encountered their share of challenges, like any other.

But I know the healthy relating when I see it — and this was precisely that.

Why?

Although it’s tempting to want to write a book about my fun visit to Oregon (did I mention the beach trip to Sauvie Island? And the mouth-watering ice cream from Salt + Straw?) … here’s why the dynamics between these family members was particularly special (healthy) .

I’ll start by offering a reminder for parents to consider:

Give love, in equal amounts. Big love. Unconditional love.

And no playing favorites.

While chatting with Dale, Alex’s mom, I asked how it felt to have raised such an amazing daughter.

She replied, “All three of my kids are amazing.”

She went on to describe Alex’s older brother and younger sister — both quite different from Alex, but special and talented in their own ways.

Her response was quite different to how I experienced my upbringing.

I was a very talented child. I excelled at ballet (and won multiple awards), as well as speech and drama, and I distinguished myself in school.

I’m a middle child, just like Alex, and I had two wonderful brothers — one older, one younger.

But if someone had a bird’s eye view into my childhood, they might very well assume I was an only child.

All the fuss and attention was on me. Only me. Because I was the star.

Rather than making me feel good (“Yay, me! I win mom’s attention!”) this dynamic made me feel very uneasy. It made me feel so pressured to maintain the standards of excellence that impressed everyone so much.

This made my life a lonely place to be.

Which is why I offer reminder to parents to consider:

Once again:

Give love and attention to all of one’s children, in equal amounts.
It is so important.

Even if one child is particularly “shiny”.

Remember that not every gift is sparkly, like gold.

Some gifts are more subtle — but just as worthy of recognition.

Consider: Giving love, across the board.

And all of one’s kids are likely to be better, for it.