Monday, September 30, 2013

Siblings - Bridging The Age Gap

"I hope that people will realize that the struggle to
make a life better with a sibling is worth it." - Marie Brenner

   I was second oldest in a family of four boys. We were "The Swann Boys". Not that we were sliding across the hood the family wheels like the Duke boys, but we were fairly tight. It was only later in life that my oldest brother stated that he "couldn't stand me in high school." It was a shock, because I never felt it. Blood is thicker than water, and we brothers were thick as thieves. Thus it is with our older two. They can be at each other's throats one minute, then defending each other the next. I have a good feeling that I'll get a call one day that my son was caught beating the snot out of some kid that was giving my oldest 'Lil Miss a hard time.

   Bridging the age gap with siblings isn't going to happen without a little effort by all parties. I certainly don't believe it's going to happen on it's own, so it's just one more thing that becomes our responsibility as parents to teach and encourage our little ones. I never want to fulfill the saying "do as I say and not as I do", so I try to practice what I preach. I have a scattered relationship with each of my four brothers. We're from the same household, but have very different personalities. It takes effort to reach out and make calls, emails, and such. I make an effort because that's who I want to be. My father and his 4 siblings don't all talk that much. My father-in-law has little contact with his siblings. Much of that is not for a lack of trying, and the effort is another post all unto itself. I wanted to make sure that I pointed out that we can ensure a solid attempt at bridging the age gap  between our children by trying. Find similar interests and teach the concept of a strong family.

   As we added another wee one to our ranks, the age gap is greater. We can still find common ground amidst the rivalry and warfare of the young if we really try. My mother recently pointed out that even though we try to find common ground for our children, we also need to recognize that they ARE different ages and to address that as well. So it becomes a balancing act. I know there will be different stages for each, but I want my little ones to be given every opportunity to build a strong foundation within our family. I am my own evidence that try as you may, siblings do drift apart despite great effort to keep them together. I still believe that if we work hard enough at the foundation, there's a better shot at a brighter future for sibling relationships. Teach them to support each other, applaud successes, console in failure. It's a part of the long road we walk as parents that seems to be over all too soon. Do what we can now, and reap the rewards later.


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