This week’s Tuesday Topic came from Christine who asked:
How do you stay connected with your older kids when you are dealing with the constant fires of the younger ones. I feel like the older kids are always being brushed aside to wait while we deal with the younger ones, or they are helping us deal with the little kids. Our older kids also express this at times; then the guilty mom feelings rise. We can not refuse to deal with the little ones. Love some suggestions. From what I see your relationship with your older kids is good. I feel like I am losing mine, especially since our whole life has been turned upside down since our last adoption.
There are many great comments and suggestions to this topic which you will want to read. Here are my thoughts.
Our family configuration is divided fairly clearly into the “older” and “younger” crowds… The older kids are 23, 20, 18, 16, and 15 and are either in college or high school. The younger kids are 11, 11, 8, 7, 4, and 3. These ages help us make fairly clear distinctions between the older and young crowds, however, Ladybug is a very mature 11 and she tends to be my child who is not content to be a “younger”, but isn’t old enough to be an “older” either.
The older five have very full and busy lives. We love it when they gather in our home with their friends, and we like their friends too. We try to make time to talk with them and listen. They have big thoughts on their minds and big decisions to make and fortunately for us, they want our input. We really enjoy our older children. They aren’t perfect, but they are amazing. They make us laugh and give us cause to pray. There is nothing like the issue of “Should I marry this man?” to drop you to your knees in prayer for your daughter.
Here are some of the things we do to stay connected with our older children:
1. We put our little kids to bed early which allows us to be available to our older kids. Our littlest are in bed before 8:00, while Honeybee and Ladybug crawl in our bed to read until 9:00. The big kids have many evening activities and rehearsals, so as they roll back in, we often hang out and talk with them to hear about their days.
2. We share a cell phone plan with our oldest three and generally text or call during the day. I love it when they call as they are walking to class. I’ve even learned to text, which is laborious to me!
3. We hug and kiss all of our kids – even our big boys.
4. We pray for our children and with our children.
5. We make the most of little pockets of time – I love it when my older girls run an errand with me. Last summer Mimi even drove back and forth to our Seattle appointments a few times.
6. We try to plan some special events. Russ is planning a backpacking trip with the oldest three boys after the wedding this summer. Until then we will be having lots of bonding moments over yard work.
7. We spend our Sundays together as often as possible. Sunday is the highlight of our week and our day of rest- which means worship, relaxation, and good food. Our trips to Seattle for therapy have put a huge dent in this, but when we are together, we thoroughly enjoy our time. In general, we ask our older kids to spend Sunday afternoon with the family. If they want to make other plans, we ask them to do it later in the day.
8. Last year we established Friday Lunches and took each of the children out for lunch, one at a time. It was a blast! Alas, spring break came and we didn’t re-institute it. We keep saying we will, and we’ll take one child to lunch, but then we are busy again and don’t keep it up. It is a great idea and was so fun – maybe I’ll get inspired by my own post.
9. When we are planning a family event, such as a birthday dinner or other gathering, I email all of my older kids and let them know what is happening.
10. We enjoy learning with them. Last summer Russ and the five oldest did Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University which was a great experience and sparked many discussions.
11. Most of all, we love them and want them to know that. We try very hard to interact with them while “keeping the end in mind.” What do I want my relationship with my daughters and sons to look like ten years from now – or twenty years from now?
Our older children have made huge sacrifices as we added our newest four children to our family. We acknowledge that and try to express our gratitude to them.
To be honest, I think the child who has fallen through the cracks the most is Ladybug – who is neither an “older” or a “younger”. Lately I’ve been trying much harder to enjoy some special time with her. Last Saturday she and I cleaned the refrigerator together. Now that may not sound like fun, but we took out all of the shelves, washed them, and put it all back together and we talked while we worked. It was great being with her.
A week or so ago we played the Amazing Labyrinth game and she completely trounced me. Next time I’m choosing the game.
Her world has changed more than anybody else’s and my heart hurts for her sometimes. I want her to know how much I love her and I want to give her more of my time and energy.
Thank you for all of your great comments and suggestions. You can read all of this week’s comments at the original post, Tuesday Topic: Staying Connected With Your Older Children
While we are on the topic of staying connected, I would like to recommend the amazing book, Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers . I love this book and have read portions of it many times. It is filled with thoughts about how we can stay connected with our children and why this is so important, especially in adolescence. It is worth your time.
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This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.