How to Handle a Big Difference in the Ages of the Children and be Together
Words spoken and yelled over and over and over again:
“You guys cannot say that in front of your little brother!”
“You guys cannot play that video game in front of your little brother.”
“You guys are playing too rough, you cannot wrestle with him the same way you do with each other and your friends.”
“You guys, you know we cannot watch that movie for family movie night, it is not appropriate for your little brother.”
“Julian, you cannot do that with your siblings, or that , or that, or that, or that, or that or that; those things are more appropriate for when you are older and some of the things I would be happy if you would never do.”
The “arghhhhhhhh” moment when a path has to be chosen:
The dilemma is a large span between the ages and stages of your children and them co-existing in one home with a varying degree of suitable content allowed around one another. There is the age of playing with little action figures sprawled out on the floor and the teenage time when teenagers are testing boundaries and entering to an adultish world. Here are the choices to rectify much of the angst in this scenario.
- Separate and force individual hibernation locked away in a personalized, homogenous environment.
- Live together as a family and tell your youngest, “I know that you do not know what certain things mean when your brothers and sisters say something and then laughs, but you have to trust that it is not appropriate and please do not repeat these things. Otherwise, we have to separate and do separate things. Also tell the older children, that no one gets left behind and they need to compromise so that the younger ones will not be left out of activities.
This is how I chose my path:
I decided that separating them was not an option because it was not a habit that I wanted them to learn. How could I keep them a part at a younger age and then expect that they would naturally come together when they were older and all activities were age appropriate? It does not work that way. Their habits now will feed their future quite naturally and any desired changes will have to be re-taught and no one has time for that.
The outcome was that they worked it out amongst themselves. In addition to taking some personal time to themselves, they play together. The eldest teach the youngest basketball moves, how to pass a football and wrestle in the grass until they are tired or someone gets hurt. They play Capture the Flag, they jump on the trampoline, they swim together and they go places together. They have fun together because they had to figure out a way to do that. The alternative was not an option primarily because none of them wanted it.
In regard to my part, fear would have created separate worlds for them.
Courage and desire for what I wanted in their relationship,in the long run, provided the direction of decision making.
Yes, Julian has seen and heard things that my eldest would never have been exposed to. However, exposure to his entire family at all ages took priority. Sometimes I still worry that he will repeat something out of context to a teacher, a friend or someone else; but he hasn’t yet. I think he understands enough to never jeopardize the privilege of privileged information. Besides that he is probably too busy telling his friends how his knee got so scrapped up over the weekend or showing them the best way to throw a football.
Family Lesson # too many to count:
Teach your children today what you want their relationship to be with each other in the future and provide the environment so they can practice it. They need to hear it and feel it.
Love, Ivy L.