photo by LIVINGWITHADHD
There's nothing too dramatic about this mom's dilemma, but it's a very common one about working through age difference issues, and I figured that spreading the word might help her get the advice she eagerly seeks.
"My boys are six years apart," says originalzademom. "My youngest follows my oldest (11) everywhere and gets upset when Zade gets to go somewhere without him. They used to be together all the time and I knew this day would come but how do I help my 5-year-old through it?"
I empathize! I am exactly six years and two weeks older than my younger sister (and only sibling). I distinctly recall feeling the "burden" of having my little sis with me places when I'd much rather been with only my peers---and that feeling kicked in strongest at about 11.
There are times in life when a six year spread will make no difference to originalzade's kids (my sister and I are best friends today with kids nearly the same age), but 11 and 5 isn't one of them. The problem is that for the younger sib, the older is like a god or something. They are exalted and put up high on a pedestal. When the older child needs his autonomy, the younger feels devastated. Perhaps originalzade should explain the truth to the little brother.
I might say something like, "You know your brother is getting older and sometimes we won't be able to do exactly what he does. But he still loves you and he'll always be your big brother." Then I would enroll him in a fun activity class or something that helps distract him from the separation he's feeling. When there's a significant age difference among the kids, giving the younger sibling his "own life" just may be the best option for everyone's sanity.
Do you have kids more than five years apart in age? How do you bridge the gap? How do you keep the younger from feeling left out?