Like the anticipation of vacation or a trip to an amusement park, incorporating a new baby into your home and the lives of your other children is something to look forward to with joy, excitement and eager promise. No matter how many older children you have or their ages, God says children are a reward (Ps. 127:3) and each child can be a blessed addition to both the expectant parents and hopeful siblings.
We found out we were going to have another baby when our oldest was soon to enter the teen years, the second was not far in age behind the first, and the third was approaching 5 years old. With this age spread, it would mean making some adjustments and considerations along the way, however, we were sure that this child was a gift from the Lord to us and we aimed for all of our children to be as excited as we were to welcome a new member to our family.
With an excited tone in our voice, a twinkle in our eye, and joyful expectancy, we told our children, “Look what we get to do!” We were delighted to share the news!
We get to….
- hold, feed, kiss, hug, love and care for a sweet little baby; they were getting a new sibling who would adore them.
- watch baby become a fun toddler, someone to teach new things and laugh with
- enjoy the process of growing up together
- experience God’s love as He entrusts the care of a new little one to our family
- share the excitement of receiving God’s blessing; God says children are a reward
- train this child in the way he or she should go as God entrusts us (all of us) with this special task
Excitement is contagious! Joy is attractive! And attitude is everything. It is unwise to put fear or dread into our children’s minds and hearts. That happens, sometimes inadvertently, when we display worry or distress over life issues ourselves. Wouldn’t it be better to model assurance, confidence and trust in God since ‘He’s got the whole world in His Hands’? Our children can be assured that God is good and looking out for our good. (Rom 8:28).
God instituted the family and those He places in it; He has His purposes in mind. Before the world began, God had the sibling (and forever friends) for my children in His plan. Each family team member has a specific role in one another’s life.
When we explain to our children that the God of the universe decides who, when, and into what family each person is born, it creates a trust within our children that they not only can observe in the birth of a sibling, but His love and care becomes palpable to them.
Some logistical decisions and necessary adjustments need to be made when your children’s ages cover a wide age span. Looking back, there were far more positives than negatives to a wide-age-range family dynamic.
While it was true that …
- We wondered how we would meet the needs of each individual child at their various ages and stages –
- Result, it all came together beautifully.
- There were activities that didn’t happen –
- Result, no one really noticed nor had long-term regret.
- We lumped them all together at times (older at youngers’ activities and vice versa) –
- Result, fun memories by all. ☺
There were far more advantages than disadvantages, in fact, a few things happened in the process of parenting a wide age range of children that we didn’t expect …
- Joy in the journey
– building a family team became a strong part of our family identity
- Parental attitude
– our attitude played an important role in developing our children’s attitudes
- Strong bonds of love and friendship
– our children enjoyed one another and grew relationally along the way
– the older children became ‘teachers’ to the younger both intentionally and by living example.
- Lessons learned
– we learned things within the family that if learned outside the family, would likely have been more painful and have longer lasting effects
As God blesses your family with more children, embrace their ages and stages … even if their ages are wide spread. Determine to build family identity and encourage sibling relationships that will out-live you, as parents. The result of replacing worry and fear with knowledge of what God will let you be a part of as you trust His plan is wonderfully rewarding. There is great joy in seeing your children grow in love with each other, hold each other up in encouragement and embrace your family values. “Look what we get to do,” …let’s do it together!
Karen Kurtz is a Contact Mom with Christian Family Heritage. She is the mother to four children, who are now young adults. Karen and her husband enjoy teaching parenting classes, date nights or hanging out with their kids.