by Darlene Cah
Divorced, single mom of three, Sherri Matthiesen never watched The Waltons during its original decade-long run. In fact, she’d never even heard of the show back then. These days, her parents watch INSP. Her stepfather, in particular, is a fan of Westerns.
She watched the network and was soon hooked. When she finally caught episodes of The Waltons, Sherri was struck by the similarities to her own life, her past, her present and to the series’ impact on the future of her children. The connection, however, came with an interesting twist.
“The Waltons, they’ve got a huge family. I’ve got eight siblings,” Sherri says. “I didn’t grow up with hardly any of them. The sister closest to me in age is eleven years older. I’ve got one younger brother, and he’s eight years younger. So he’s pretty much the only one I have any memory growing up with. But I kind of wish I had that family dynamic growing up like the Waltons do, and on Dr. Quinn where she has the three adopted kids and they had one of their own, her and Sully. Just the whole family dynamic and all, and that’s what I encourage with my kids.”
“When we sit down and watch The Waltons…They support each other. That’s a good impression for my kids to see for themselves.”
Because of the vast difference in age between her and her siblings, Sherri wanted to have her two daughters and one son closer together. Lexie, heading into her junior year of high school next year, is sixteen, Vickie, fourteen and Billy, eleven.
Sherri shares how INSP inspires her parenting.
“I say, you three are family. As long as you three stick together, when you become adults, you’ll stick together no matter what. You’ll be there for each other, through good times, through bad…I don’t have that bond with my siblings. I just don’t. When we sit down and watch The Waltons, for example, yeah they’re a big family, but they’re a family. They do a lot together. They’re there for each other. They support each other. That’s a good impression for my kids to see for themselves.”
Sherri says watching shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie gives her a glimpse of what it was like when her mother and grandparents grew up and what life was like in the old west. And she’s not alone.
“The kids sit and watch it with me. I never force them to,” Sherri says. “When we sit down to watch shows on INSP, they watch The Waltons with me. My oldest one watches JAG with me almost every chance she gets. My youngest daughter likes to watch Dr. Quinn, and my son will watch whatever is on, he’s not overly picky, whatever is entertaining.”
In fact, oldest daughter, Lexie, is so inspired by JAG, she intends to join the Air Force after graduation.
“Her uncle and godfather is a retired Air Force man. So she’s very encouraged by him setting a good example for her, and of course watching JAG,” Sherri says, “because she wanted to be a lawyer, but she didn’t know which branch she wanted to go into. She thought family law, and then started watching JAG, and she said, ‘Mom, that’s perfect.’”
They also enjoy movies on INSP, most recently, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.
“Hachi! I loved that, and so did the kids. We all cried at the end. Oh, that was a good movie,” Sherri says.
Sherri draws her strength from her kids and a good deal of her hope from INSP. At thirty-six, she struggles to keep the family afloat. Three years ago, while on her job as a truck driver, she suffered an accident that caused irreparable nerve damage from her neck down to her fingers. It left her disabled and unable to return to the kind of work she’d done for the past fifteen years. She takes heavy medication daily for the pain.
“INSP helps me to see that the hope, inner strength, and just plain faith shown by the characters and real people on your network, that I can make the best of a bad situation. It also helps to give me encouragement to finish schooling to work at home. I’m struggling to get back into the work force, but I’m taking an online course to do medical transcription so I can be an at-home mom, because that’s what my kids need.”
Sherri looks to the Walton clan as the kind of large family dynamic she wishes she had growing up, and now she’s creating that love, support and encouragement within her little family of four.
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