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Raising Siblings With a Large Age Gap

Updated on June 26, 2016
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Families in this day and age

Raising children in this day and age can be a beautiful and reward experience. Our children our the legacy that we gift into society. They are our pride, our joy and they are the greatest accomplishment and legacy that we will leave behind on this earth. They are also our hope for the future and the legacy that we will leave behind, when everything is said and done.

Raising our children though... In a world full of computers and never ending television, with outside influences and bullying can be a challenge. When our parents were raising us, the world was a simpler place and though we can still seek advice from the parents from our childhood we are treading our own water due to the massive changes that the world has seen over the few evolving of decades.

Generations before us had their own worries and concerns. Their own joys and triumphs. And as parents today, we will have ours. One of the changes that we are seeing as parents today, that generations before us didn't often have to consider was large age gaps in between their children -- not to say that it didn't occur, it just wasn't as common as it is in our day and age. So where do we turn for parenting advice for the sibling gap? Well... Right here, with this article, is a great starting point!

How big is the age gap with your children?

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Sometime your little sister needs to be put in a box!

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Give them the gift of bonding

No matter what age gap your children are facing... They can still have a unique and precious bonding experience that will tie them together in their own special and unique way.

Three Activities That Can Bring Bonding:

  1. Invest in activities that they can do together; such as board games that cover all ages... Hasbro has a lot of really great games out there that are great fun for all ages
  2. Make a movie night -- there are so many entertaining movies that people, old and young can enjoy... Pop some corn, chop up some veggies and grab a couple soda. Toss down some blankets and lots of pillows and let the movie night magic take you away
  3. Let them shop for clothes or school supplies together -- WITHOUT mom and dad! The little one wants to be everything the big one is and the big one will take pride in the fact that you trust them with the responsibility of a shopping spree

What to try to avoid with 'age gap' parenting

In order to ensure that there is minimal sibling rivalry with your age gap children try and avoid the following things, that can quickly separate their connection to each other:

  1. Using the older child as a built-in babysitter.... Your older child is not a younger parent version of you! If you decrease your older child's parenting responsibility you might just find that they come to crave time with their younger siblings -- away from mom and dad! I wouldn't call it revers psychology... But it can end up feeling like it!
  2. Putting the younger child's needs above and beyond your older child -- Your younger child may require extra attention and nurturing, as their age requires... But make sure that you spread your time well between your children.

Doing up a nursery? Also touch up your 'big kids' room! They love feeling special too!

Tips to give your older child their own 'place'

When a new baby is brought home your family dynamic changes for each and every family member in your home. So where does everyone stand? Mom and dad now have additional responsibility... We have to divide our attention, or shall I say: spread it across a little more... But your other child(ren)... Where do they now stand?

Three tips to help your older child adjust:

  1. Give them a sign for their bedroom door (maybe craft a couple together)... They can hang a sign to have 'quiet time' --- let the family know that they are 'turning in early' or to invite younger ones in for a 'play date'
  2. Make a standing date night. Even if it is only once a month, make sure that they have a standing time that they know is just theirs
  3. Start to include your older child in activities and tasks that were once just yours... Prepping dinner, going to the gym and other like chores and hobbies -- you may just find that they thrive with the extra opportunities!

DIY Bedroom ideas, straight from a teen who did it!

Do you think that you will upgrade your older child's room when you do the nursery?

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Make some pregnancy memories... Together!

If you are still on your forty week journey of pregnancy you are in the prime time to start including your 'big' kid(s) in the life of their new sibling! Make a weekly date to take a belly picture with your kids... Have them read the scale when you check your growing weight -- this can turn out to be a very entertaining experience, full of laughs and joy!... Art time can always be fun... Have your big kid make a mural of your expanding midsection, remember to take photos -- they will be treasures that you can enjoy with both your older children and the one that was nestled in your womb!

Enjoy the experience as a family

Take the time to really enjoy the magic of raising children with age gaps! You, as parents, really are living the best of all worlds in parenting! You have an older child that has developed communication skills and advanced logic, they have opinions, can have very interesting conversations and make great board game dates!. Your younger child still carries the joy of exploring the world - and all of the new experiences that await them! Santa is thrilling, the tooth fairy still visits and life is theirs -- both of theirs for exploring!

You may have planned the gap. Maybe you were one of the parents who had a pretty shocking surprise... either way: live it, love it and remember... time doesn't stand still; one day, all too soon you will find that your house is childless and you will miss the sound of their sweet voices....

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    • LouCannon profile image
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      Amanda Louise Cannon 2 years ago from Wynndel BC Canada

      Great advice Glenn! As I go through my day, parenting my children I will be hearing your advice ringing through my ears! Thanks for sharing...

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Well Amanda, you asked if I had any suggestions in your reply above. At first I thought I can't add to what you covered, but I gave it some thought and the first thing that came to my mind is that parents should consciously give equal attention to both children. This applies no matter what the age gap is.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      With six kids in our family and not quite enough money to go around there were a lot of emotions within our family circle. I know there were rivalries that existed but we stood by each other whenever one sibling needed help. Most of the childhood rivalries have repaired themselves but a few still exist today.

    • LouCannon profile image
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      Amanda Louise Cannon 2 years ago from Wynndel BC Canada

      Thanks for posting Glen... I am so glad that you were able to pull some clarity out of my hub... Being the parent of age gap siblings we are always very concerned about jealousy... Totally frightened to tell you the truth... We work on everybody's place all of the time -- any suggestions to post back? To help those parenting?

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      My sister and I are seven years apart. Having had an older sister, I realize from your article that she felt I was being favored. Of course I didn't notice it at the time, but it makes sense when I think back on certain things. It's clearer now, thanks to your explanations.

    • Christy Kirwan profile image

      Christy Kirwan 2 years ago from San Francisco

      There is a 15-year age gap between my little sister and I, and we love bonding over books (I still read young adult novels sometimes if they're ones she's reading), and craft projects. Great article with practical and loving suggestions. :)

    • LouCannon profile image
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      Amanda Louise Cannon 2 years ago from Wynndel BC Canada

      Paperfacets... It is always great to hear that they are at least on 'speaking terms'... You must have done something right!!! Have a tip to share?

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 2 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Our childrens age gap was 14 years. The resulting household was not ideal but all three, thirties years later, are on speaking terms. lol And all part of one family, dispersed and caring.