Caroline asked: Do you make your older daughters help raise the younger children and thus rob them of their childhood?
Good questions Caroline! I'm sorry it's taken like six months to get back on this band! I can't believe more of my peeps haven't asked...I so would...even anonymously!
Let's start with the first one. Well, I only have one older daughter and the younger is two so she wouldn't qualify in the "raising the younger children" scheme. Raising our children in the fear of the Lord is our (Mark and I) job as parents. We do give our other children responsiblities to make the house run smooth but that doesn't mean they constantly on younger sibling watch, etc. They run, laugh, play, and wrestle with their friends (yep, they have friends out side of our family...but that's a secret).
When our children turn seven, and there's a baby, then they will get the baby as a "buddy" when that baby no longer needs me to do a lot of their things. These responsibilities include buckling them up, unbuckling them, helping them get dressed, help them put away clothes...and eventually, helping them learn their chores (i.e. picking up, unloading dishwasher, putting things away...that's around 18 months or so). When their buddy is walking very independently, they are required to hold their hand in the parking lot and making sure they don't take off without the rest of us. Now, since my children's ages are 9, 7, 6, 4, 2, and 1 that means there are only two who are old enough to be "big buddies." And the seven year old is still slowly getting those responsiblities since he is a he and his buddy is only 18 months old. We are currently teaching them that if their buddy doesn't obey then to come to us and we'll take care of the situation. It is not and never will be their place to discipline their siblings.
Again, it's not all work and I believe the older ones get more privileges than the younger ones. For instance, Zoe and I occasionally go out for a meal and for a time to reconnect, get away and enjoy some yummy food (we both love the same kinds of meals she's more adventurous in her orders than requesting McDonald's). She also gets to stay up later than her siblings and watch movies on occasion. Ace gets his special time out with dad and is slowly getting to stay up later.
I guess, in summary, we are not in the parent camp that believes children should just be kids and not learn to work and contribute to the home. We expect all our children from the time they can toddle to be willing and joyful helpers about the house doing age appropriate chores and activities. We have no qualms in requiring our older children to help look out for their siblings as we have no problem looking out for all of them. This is teaching them to be loving, gentle and helps them think of the needs of others before themselves (a Biblical model that we are striving for...JOY...Jesus, Others, You). It's our prayer that in teaching them these Christian character qualities that they will grow up willingly and lovingly and sacrificially sharing Christ with others.
This is quite long, so I'll leave it at that. The short answer is "no, we don't have our olders raise our youngers." The long answer is above!
Leave a comment on this post or here if you have a question you'd like for us to answer about our bunch.