Book About Brothers & Sisters: Age Spacing

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Age Spacing

You’ve heard some parents say that they want children close in age. That way, they can spend more time together, share more experiences. Other parents feel that having children too close in age leads to unnecessary competition and not enough time to grow up before another child enters the picture.

There is evidence to support both theories. If you’d like to read a complete article on the subject, go to this article on Parenting.com.

In a 1989 article in The New York Times, author Lawrence Kutner writes about siblings that are six or more years apart. He makes a strong case for the advantages of spacing siblings further apart.

Kutner writes about families with “caboose babies” — youngest children who are born when their older sibs are in elementary or junior high.

“With the typical 2-3-year span,” said Dr. Carol J. Eagle, then a clinical psychologist and associate professor of child psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “there’s a lot more competition between the siblings. When there’s a 6-year difference, it’s pretty hard to compete.”

The younger siblings tend to see their older siblings as parents. Dr. Lucille K. Forer, then a clinical psychologist, said, “I’ve seen it work beautifully. The older child can reach out to the younger child and can be tremendously helpful. The older child sees himself as wiser and more mature.”

The younger child benefits as well, said Dr. Forer. “The younger child has the characteristics of an only child. Only children tend to have good self-esteem.”

 

Your Thoughts about Age Spacing

 

As you read these questions, you can answer them and fill in the blanks (mentally or on paper) as either a parent of two or more children or as a sibling with at least one brother or sister. If you’re an only child or the parent of an only, your opinions are just as valued.

 

  • My sibling closest in age and I (my children) are _______ years apart.
  • How would I would describe the relationship between the siblings/children closest in age?
  • In what ways do they complement each other?
  • In what ways do they collide?
  • If I could change the age spacing between me and my closest sibling in age (children closest in age) would I do it? (Think about why or why not.)

 

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AGE JUMPS

No, not the age jumps (gaps) between brothers and sisters. For now, I’ve written enough about that topic in both The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives (shameless plug) and in many posts right here.

 

An age jump day.

An age jump day.

Nope, I’m talking about the days when you wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and stare in dismay at a new line that has made its debut around the corners of your mouth, the corner of an eye or anywhere else.  Or maybe a slightly deeper fold that runs along the side of your nose like a river in the Grand Canyon.

Oh, I could go on about the physical “ravages” of age.  I fondly remember the day when I was in my early 40s and a friend sat on a porch step one rung higher than mine.  She peered at the top of my head adorned with a mass of what I called a “lion’s mane” and declared, “You don’t have one gray hair!”

Honestly, I hadn’t given a thought to turning gray.  I was concerned about the small amount of loose skin between my bra strap and my arm.  (If only I’d realized then what I know now.  I would have worn sleeveless tops every day of the year.)

So, back to the present.  A new wrinkle . . . a deeper line . . . crepe paper skin . . . Your first response?  If you’re like most of us, you want to slam a bag over your head (any material/size will do) and sulk for the rest of the day.  And that’s what I recommend—minus the bag, of course.

We need to grieve.  To feel sorry for ourselves.  To wonder where all the time has gone and why we look more like our mothers/grandmothers than we vowed we ever would.

Hell, if you feel like buying a burka, go right ahead.  Cover yourself and all your imperfections from head to foot.  (If it’s summer, take care: you could suffocate.)

We grieve all kinds of losses: loved ones, pets, friends, satisfying jobs.  But, rarely, do we give ourselves permission to grieve for what society has convinced us is a loss of beauty.  Oh, we complain to anyone who will listen.  (My husband has had it up to “here.”)  We bitch about our flabby stomachs, our sagging chins, the veins large and small that mar our legs into an atlas-like illustration of all the rivers that flow through our state.

(BTW, I may take the prize for the flabby stomach thing.  Mine used to be so flat and taut.  Farewell.)

What I’ve found is a little bit of grief goes a long way.  Feel sorry for yourself.  Look at old pictures and curse the day you were born.  Maybe even try on that size 8 dress you’ve hidden in your closet in the hopes of someday being able to wear it again.

But at the end of your age jump and your day of grief, give it up.  Look straight in the mirror and thank the gods or goddesses that you look (and feel) as good as you do.  And remember: Next week, next month, six months from now you’ll look back on today and wish that you had embraced that wrinkle or sag because you looked damn good.

 

 

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WHY I WRITE

 

 

Why I Write

Let’s put it this way: I write because I must.  Sure, I get frustrated, bereft of ideas and self-confidence. Like someone in a bad marriage, I’ve tried to quit writing and move on.  I can’t.

They say you can’t give up the things you love.  (Well, something like that.)  And it’s true: I can say things on paper (Boy, that dates me, doesn’t it?) that I can never say out loud.  I can input thoughts/feelings on Word that I could never organize in the middle of a heated discussion.  I can’t always be funny or “quick” or articulate in the moment but can often get everything straightened out when I write.

I write because I want to hone my craft.  Every time I read a fabulous book by some thirty something author, I want to die and come back as, you guessed it, a writer.  I flip the tops of pages, underline, write notes in the margins . . . all so that I can learn from the “masters.”

Writing, like gardening, requires a willingness to change, to get rid of what isn’t working, to create new and fulfilling palettes.  Right now, I’m in the midst of planting a new garden on the south side of my house, a restful, peaceful space where I can relax, read, and “see” in the shade.

Similarly, I’m in the midst of expanding my writing style to include a subtle sense of humor just like my dad’s.  I’m no Irma Bombeck but a writer with a wry, understated style.  Not an easy task, but I’m up for the challenge.

I write because I love to put the puzzle pieces of words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, essays together and, along the way, figure out a little bit more about myself and universal experiences that affect us all.

 

ORGANIZATIONS WE SUPPORT:

 

 

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