Spaces in Ages
Make sure you don't have your kids too close together! Too close together and there will be sibling rivalry.
But then. . . .
You don't want them too far apart! Too far apart and they won't be able to relate to each other or have anything in common.
My thought was that all sounded conflicting and either way, someone wouldn't be pleased. What should I do?
Simple answer: Let the Lord have His way.
I am here to tell you, both are myths: I have children as close as 14 months apart, and as far as 12 years apart. A competitive child will be competitive no matter how close or far apart they are from another sibling. Finding common ground has more to do with attitude and perspective, not age.
The point is, the spaces in ages are what they are, but what is most important is the environment in which you raise your gifts from God. Unhealthy competition can be channeled into ways to promote teamwork amongst siblings, instilling in the children that the family is a team. We win and lose together, and certainly don't try to "one-up" each other. We teach our children to celebrate one another, to rejoice with one another and to show compassion when someone is down.
Common ground, the other myth, isn't so difficult to deal with either. Each person will have a set of interests that are all their own. However, we are a family and have always enjoyed doing things as a family, whether that be singing songs, playing games, or cooking together. Common ground is first established by mom and dad and the children spring board off of that.
Also, younger siblings give older ones the chance to serve, to realize what they were like as babies and toddlers, and even gives them the opportunity to show the little ones how to play something they used to enjoy at that age. In return, the little ones see even more examples of kindness and patience. They also learn to respect boundaries and property by not disturbing an older one's project or musical instrument or whatever they may deem as "off limits."
It is such a cyclical blessing to watch the children learn from each other, to learn to communicate with each other, to figure out how to work through their challenges and to lavish each other with love and care and heaping doses of grace.
I watch the ways they watch each other, and my heart is doubly blessed. I get to see glimpses of my older daughters' mothering skills, the way they may deal with a minor toddler meltdown, the way they rock a baby, how they do the silliest things to make their siblings laugh. I get to see my oldest son's confidence be boosted because he realizes that 2 younger brothers are doing everything he does and he's eager to show them the way. I see how the little ones look up to the older ones, yet feel like they belong right in the mix of everything, not shunned or pushed away.
Again, spaces in ages are what they are--it's the home life environment that matters most, what is taught, what parents expect from their children as family members. Sure there are rough patches and bumpy roads, hard seasons and tough times. But overall, home life should be a blessed life, no matter how close or far apart your children are. The family dynamic can be such a sweet blessing from God when we cultivate it according to His Word, and worry less about what the world says our families should look like.