Lucky Seven Family

Tuesday Tip #26: Birth Order

I’ve been interested in Birth Order for years – I find it so interesting that first-borns tend to behave differently than middle children whom also have different tendencies than the children born last in a family (and of course, there are many other combinations!).  Although there are always exceptions, I look at both Russell and myself (we are both first borns!) and our behaviors and expectations are quite similar.  After reading some of Kevin Leman’s The Birth Order Book, I became more intrigued about our blended family and how birth order affects our interactions with our children and their relationships with one another.

My youngest is a ten year-old that has plenty of talents.  She is an amazing gymnast and enjoys ballet and tap dancing also.  She is the youngest of my two children and thus, in our family (prior to LuckySevenFamily) she has been the ‘baby’.  Given her status in the family, she tends to be more protected than her older brother.  However, in our modern, blended family she is NOT the youngest/baby of the family.  Russell’s youngest child is a couple of years younger than her and on top of being the youngest of his three children, she was also born four years after the middle child, giving her the ultimate “baby of the family” status.  She is a great soccer player and tends more towards group sports than does my daughter.

The relationship between these two youngest girls is an intriguing one; they are the very best of friends and sisters.  Just this past weekend, they were shopping for school clothes together.  Ultimately, they chose several matching outfits – so cute!  However, there are times when they are ultra-competitive with one another; fighting for their position in the family.  Although they are only two years apart in age, my blondie is super tall and Russell’s brunette is a petite girl that looks several years younger than she actually is.  This discrepancy in size also plays easily into further “baby of the family” status for the youngest in our blended family.  For my daughter, not being the true baby of the blended family can be frustrating; in many ways she becomes a middle child which can be quite annoying for a true “baby of the family”!

Given this observation, we have to be careful about how we react to both girls.  Russell and I must work to provide both girls reassurance about their important positions in the family – striving not to always allow his daughter complete ownership of “baby of the family” role and providing some of that experience to my daughter.  Similarly, we have to remind my daughter that she must remember she is older and has more mature experiences than our youngest; thus our expectations ARE different.

I could provide plenty of other (very entertaining!) examples of how our oldest children deal with their positions and how Russell’s middle child has his role in our blended family.  For another day…

Remember how your blended family affects birth order among all of the children and consider how you can play up the strengths and down-play the drawbacks of these various positions in a blended family!  I’d love to hear about your experiences with birth order in a blended family! Feel free to leave under “comments”.

 

 

Tuesday Tip #25 – What is Family?

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Luckily for the MODERN, blended family they added the USUALLY!  Although many families do reside in the same dwelling, others maintain more than one household with success!

 

Tuesday Tip #24: “Harmless” Teasing

Earlier this year I chaperoned one night of my son’s 7th grade class week-long field trip.  It was a trip filled with all types of learning experiences:  dissections and field observations were a few of the activities.  On the evening I attended, the kids participated in a simulation experiment that involved the Underground Railroad.  Parents and students participated together – we started with the  students being treated as if they were slaves working in a cotton field.  The counselors were trained to be the slave owners.  The “slaves” were yelled at, ugly words were thrown at them, and they could not make eye contact with their “owners”.  They were then rescued by an “abolitionist” and taken through the forest on a trek through Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont and ultimately into the safety of Canada.  Throughout the trip we were yelled at by “farmers” and had to pay to be on their land and we were hidden in a “safe house” from a sheriff.  This experience culminated in a sit down of all the kids with the counselors to discuss the experience.  They talked about differences in people (skin color, hair color, eye color, clothing choices, activities they enjoy) and how and why the slave owners decided they were superior to the slaves.

The counselors used this experience to tie the lesson to bullying, discussing the reasons people bully and the harm it can cause.  One of the points raised was that putting other people down is usually a way to try to make yourself feel bigger or better.  The other important point I took away from the evening was even “harmless” teasing or “joking” can really hurt.

When our blended family is together we try not to tolerate even the “joking” and “harmless” teasing.  I’ve see this behavior from all of the kids at some point and, even as parents, we are not perfect .  When I hear it coming from one of the kids (or several!) I try to explain to all of them the age-old adage:  ”if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”.  As they’ve gotten older, I do take severe criticisms seriously and usually take the offending child separately for a conversation about their words.  Teaching children that words do hurt and can have deleterious effects on self-esteem is important.  Respect for others, even brothers and sisters, is truly necessary.  The other lesson I focus on is the offending child’s self-esteem.  What is going on that they feel the need to put someone else down?  Perhaps this is the most crucial discussion point.

Listen to your family, watch their behavior, take the opportunity to teach them…

Blended Family Quotes: Vacation!

“I’m going on vacation. I’ll bring you back a souvenir suitcase. It’ll be full of love, but otherwise appear to be empty.”
― Jarod KintzLove quotes for the ages. And the ageless sages.

Tuesday Tip #23: Screen Time

Limiting screen time is no new topic for families.  For our blended family, screen time can consume us!  With iPods, iPhones, Kindles, Samsung tablets, and iPads we find ourselves with five kids that are totally consumed with games, texting and Instagram.  Given we only spend weekends, holidays and vacations together, our time as a family is limited.  We’ve decided to limit electronics on vacations to specific periods that coincide with some much needed “down-time”.  Early mornings can be a difficult time for our blended family; two boys that wake up with the sunrise, stomp around, and try to wake the entire household versus two little night owls that prefer to sleep in after a late night of reading make striking a morning balance difficult.  Limited screen time in the early morning allows for the early birds to watch lax videos or play games quietly while giving the sleepy heads an extra hour of rest.  We’ve also decided to “collect” the electronics in a central, adult-controlled location so that the kids aren’t tempted by their electronics at every turn.  This approach gives us controlled quiet time while still allowing for plenty of time for important family discussions and interactions!

I would love to hear how other blended families deal with screen time – give us your input today!

Family Quotes: Happy 4th of July!!

july 4 quote

Tuesday Tip #22: Taking Time as a Couple

Relationships take effort and energy; your relationship with your spouse or significant other is not immune to this advice!  When I hear new moms bemoaning the fact that it is more work to spend an evening out away from the baby (“it’s so much work – we have to get a babysitter, make the reservation, plan around the baby’s feeding schedule, find clothes that fit – other than the yoga pants!”), I always encourage them to take the time and effort to do it!  I wish that someone had given me this advice and encouragement when I was a new mom.  It’s almost as if you need someone to give you permission to put yourself and your relationship with your spouse on par with that of the needs of the new baby.  And, this does not only apply to new families with young children – it is important that you find a way to follow this advice  even when the children are older.

In a blended family, we’ve found this to be a critical part of our relationship.  Given we have a limited amount of time with our children (joint custody) and a limited amount of time with one another (separate states)  our time management is critical!  Here are some suggestions for ways to balance your time with children and still find time for each other:

  • during family vacations, get a babysitter and enjoy a night on the town!
  • on weekends with the kids, even finding an hour of quiet time together (before everyone begs for breakfast or after they are all tucked in at night) gives you time to re-connect as a couple
  • for our blended family, there are a few weekends where we don’t have kids – on these weekends, we make sure to focus on “us” and take advantage of every moment

Whatever your blended family set-up, find time as a couple to focus on your needs – this is not a selfish choice – it is important for a healthy, happy blended family!

Running!

This weekend, Lucky Seven Family ran in a 5k to support a local Reading Girl Scout Troop.  The troop was raising money to buy Girls’ Field Hockey Goals for one of the local schools.  We got to support a great community cause and it was a great way to get our workout for the day!  Alida won the <16 year old female category!!GS 5k kids

Family Quotes: How Blended Families Come to Exist!

June 27 2014 quote

Tuesday Tip #21: Movies

As a modern, blended family with 5 kids (yes, 5 kids!) that are between the ages of 8 and 14 years, we sometimes struggle to find activities that everyone will enjoy.  When we sit down after a day filled with activity (see last week’s tip on Hiking!), it is nice to relax and enjoy a movie.  But, what to watch?!? With 3 pre-teen/teens and 2 younger ones it can be difficult to agree on one appropriate movie.

So, for this week’s tip, we’ve put together a list of favorite Sports movies to enjoy with your family! GOOOAAAALLLLL!

Hoosiers  (small town basketball in Indiana)

Chariots of Fire (Olympics, running)

Field of Dreams (baseball:  ”If you build it, they will come”)

Bad News Bears (the original one from the ’70s, baseball)

The Mighty Ducks (hockey)

Seabiscuit (horse racing)

Soul Surfer (teenage girl surfer fights back after losing her arm in shark attack)

Remember the Titans (football, inter-racial issues)

Rudy (football, overcoming odds)

Cool Running (Jamaican bobsled team)

Share your favorite sports movie with Lucky Seven Family!!