If you’ve got toddlers AND teenagers in your home–How on earth do you bridge the age gap as you parent?
Never in a million years did my husband imagine he’d be parenting teenagers and toddlers…at the same time! When his first marriage ended in divorce, his two kids were under the age of six. He tried to piece his first family back together but when hope on that horizon grew dim, he moved on and met me. I was ten years younger and only agreed to say “I do” if he’d commit to having kids with me, too. Jeff was (and is) a wonderful, involved father to his children and he seemed out-0f-his-mind thrilled by the prospect of expanding his family…until he turned 42. That’s when the reality of having kids ages 15, 12, 4, and 3 set in.
Two weekends ago, Problem #1 cropped up. The older kids wanted to go to Six Flags since we didn’t do a family vacation this year, but there’s no way the younger two could handle it. So I stayed home with the littles and my husband took the older kids for a fun day trip. That’s when Problem #2 entered the picture. My husband normally considers himself a roller coaster freak who’s thrilled to share his love of heights and speed with his kids who love it, too. They waited in line for an eternity to get on the new Six Flags attraction, the Goliath. This wooden coaster plunges you 180-feet at a near vertical 85-degree drop at the record-breaking speed of 72 mpg. Three years ago, my husband would’ve relished every second and stayed at the park ’till dark. But this time around, he merely endured the attractions and tried to keep his funnel cake down as he limped around with the kids. He returned home ghost white and passed out in bed. “I can’t do this anymore,” he cried. “I’m way too old!” I reminded him that our youngest daughter was only three…and he’d have to save some energy to give her these bonding experiences, too!
Finding a fun bonding experience for a family with such a wide age range is one challenge for people parenting in two phases. Overcoming the fatigue that sets in faster as you age is another.
Whether due to remarriage, a desire to adopt or get pregnant later in life or a surprise pregnancy…people are parenting in two phases more and more these days. You feel torn because you want to give the children you’re raising in “phase two of parenting” the same experiences you gave your children the “first time around.” But let’s face it: Jumping on a roller coaster after you’re 40 holds the same appeal as coming down with a bad cold. Maybe your friends stopped having kids well into their 30s and they’re not exactly thrilled to invite you and your litter over to destroy their peaceful empty nest. And maybe you’ve done the Disney World vacation, outdoor camping adventure and cross-country road trip…and you can’t seem to muster the energy to do it all over again.
But you have to do it all over again. Your kids–all of them–deserve your very best. So how on earth do you:
- Tap into the energy reserve to give the children you’re raising the second time around the same level of time and attention you gave the kids in your first round of parenting
- Create fun, family bonding experiences that will satisfy your kids of all ages
- Come up with family vacations that will cater to all the kids when there’s such an age gap
If you’re succeeding in parenting your kids given an age gap, what are some tips you can share in making it work?