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
Steppin' Heavenward
Choice Central


Mama Hen said...

I totally agree with you. I have a 12, 10, 9, and 3 year old. It has been the most wonderful thing to see my big kids with their little brother. It delights this momma's heart.

Logistically, it can be a challenge sometimes. Like tennis lessons at nap/rest time, but it is doable. And as a family we make it work or we just won't do it.

Tara said...

I think my teen would agree with you, too, actually. The only time that she seems to wish we followed a different model is when she has spent a bit too much time with her older cousins. :) Even when we have a tiff, she comforts herself by bringing the baby onto her bed and playing with him. Gotta love it!

Oh, and I cannot believe people have said those things to you! Amazing.

blessedmomto8 said...

I hear the SAME STUFF constantly! And I don't buy it! I'm on your side ;)

Vickie said...

I have to agree with you too. I have kids from adults (oldest is 31) down to age 7 and everything in-between. It is fun to watch the older kids play with and help the littles. Plus we have grandkids (their neices and nephews we see regularly) and they are very involved in their lives as well. I don't ever hear...ah Mom do I HAVE to?! The love it!

Great post!

Jodi said...

Proof of 16 yr. old son boogie boarding today with his sibs. 10, 8, 8, and 7. All having a blast and all with HUGE smiles on their faces. They love him and he loves them. Totally and without question. Congratulation also on your court date!!! YEA!!!

Heidi said...

Amen! I envy you your big family. My Ashley, 16, would totally love it if we'd have more little ones around here! I think it's great for the older kids to see and share in the responsibility of raising little ones as (hopefully) it will help produce better parents one day. :)

I commend you!

Sara said...

That's interesting. Lately I've been thinking how sad it is that my younger children won't have younger sibings to learn to love. Someone has to be the youngest:-).

The Reader said...

Agreed. The IRL friends/family with a wide span of ages that I know all have really awesome teens/young adults. In my own family, we don't have many children, but there are 7 yrs from oldest to youngest, and that bond between them is really neat. I love having that spread in our house.

Enjoy it, and keep ignoring the nay-sayers.

Kate said...

My 17 and 16 year old daughters are the first to encourage my husband and I to go on a date and in doing so are glad to take care of the middles and littles at home. Happiness comes from giving - not from being self absorbed!
Great post!

Charlotte said...

I love having tots and teens. My 15yo will tell anyone that having a 2yo join our family is the best thing that ever happened. In one sense it means that no one is specifically concentrated on. That is a problem for toddlers as well as teens.

Grateful for Grace said...

I too agree. My 13 adores her 2yo brother. Practically mother loves him. I think she's less self focused because of her chance to share a life with younger siblings. Especially *really* younger.

jennifer said...

Agree, agree, agree! My kids are 17, 12, 9, 7, 3. The biggest "problem" we've encountered is that the 3 year old (in particular, but not solely) is going to be really upset when her older sister moves into her college dorm next month.

Luke said...

Another winner, Mary Grace [smile]. Good stuff.


Vickie said...

I know I already shared once on here but yesterday...I have my 4 teens in Volleyball right now. The 7 year old likes to be the "gopher" whenever they are practicing at home. So when we get to practice time, she insists on being the gopher there too. My teens will yell, "gopher gopher..the ball" and the other teens are just standing their rolling their eyes. I am thankful that my teens have no issues keeping the littles involved no matter where they are.

I've awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award :)