Friday, July 9, 2010
"I can't believe you're having another baby. Aren't your older kids horrified?"
"Poor Jo. Just when she needs to be the center of attention."
"How do your older kids feel with all those little ones getting into everything?"
"Don't you hate that you can never really give the older ones what they need when you're so focused on the younger ones?"
"I bet Jo hates being the family babysitter, huh?"
"I know the older ones miss out on a lot of opportunities because of the younger ones ..."
If I had a dime for every time someone implied that my older children were put at a disadvantage because of having younger siblings, well ... let's just say that we wouldn't have to settle for the dollar scoops when the family made a special outing to Baskin Robbins.
The wisdom of the world says that the older a child is, the more his family should focus on his needs. The less he should be involved/interested/interacting with younger siblings. The more self-focused he should become. This is The Way It Is. Call it one of the unwritten parenting laws.
The wisdom of the world says that by having young children and teenagers, I am screwing it up. Badly.
My older kids will resent the things asked of them. They will balk at the fact that they are not the center of gravity in the universe of our home. They will be less prepared for the world because they did not have all of the resources poured in their direction all of the time. They will be unable to form a real bond with the younger siblings. They will secretly hate the tots-to-teens make-up of our home. They will feel ignored, unimportant, abandoned, forgotten.
I'm not convinced that this is so.
Every day, I marvel at the connections between my almost-teen daughter and her 2 year-old brother. I watch 10 year-old Atticus delight in asking how much he will be able to do with Seven once he or she is on the scene. I see Oli glow when Logan comes downstairs in the morning, then collapse into a pile of giggles when Logan starts up their ritual tickle game.
I'm not certain, but I think this newborn-to-teen thing is doable. Perhaps--dare I say it--even preferable?
See, I have a handful of real-life acquaintances navigating these waters, as well as a few emaginary friends charting the same course. Ironically, their teens are among the best adjusted, most compassionate, least self-obsessed kids I know. These are the teenagers who think outside of their iPods, look to their family rather than their peer group, and show love without fear of embarrassment.
In short, they are the kinds of teens I want to raise.
As always, there's no guarantee that my children will follow in those footsteps. But you know what? I'm not afraid that graduating one while teaching phonics to another is a sure a recipe for parental failure as we are told to believe.
For further proof, check out these blogs:
A Baker's Dozen