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Expose Your Kids to Younger Kids

Jeremy:
So we’ve talked a lot recently about the importance of exposing your kids to adults. I want to talk for a minute about the importance of exposing your older kids to younger children or babies. Again, creating a culture, an intergenerational culture, where your kids feel comfortable and enjoy, not just peer relationships, people that are within a year of their age, but they enjoy younger kids. They enjoy older kids. They enjoy adults. They enjoy grandparents. This is such an important thing to cultivate, if you are going to build a multi-generational family team. I got an email this week from a friend of ours named Salene, she grew up in a traditionally Indian household. And she was writing me about a different topic, but then she had this little PS that I thought was really interesting. I want to read it out, just give a shout out to my son, Jackson.

Basically, what she wrote was, “I remember the first time Jackson met our son, who was just a few months old, and Jackson immediately came over and wanted to hold him, play with him. I’d never seen a non-Indian teenage boy do that before. And I still haven’t seen it.” I think she said there was another boy there that was his age, and it was not unusual for a teenage boy to give a baby the time of day when his peers are around. She said, “I was recently around teenage boys who understandably were focused on themselves and their peers, and I was reminded of how unusual that first encounter between our son and Jackson was. I want to encourage Jackson to continue being counter-cultural and nurturing his fathering skills, even at a young age.”

So I sent this to Jackson. I would say that he-

Jeff:
Did he love it?

Jeremy:
Yeah, he did. I’ve seen this. This is definitely true. I see this dynamic in other families, but definitely in our family. If a couple comes over with three or four little kids, our kids immediately engage with those little kids, especially when they’re really little and really fun. They have cousins that are really young. And part of this is just enjoying extended family relationships, valuing children, valuing family, valuing all those age groups. And not fixating on the modern definition of socialization is, “Do my kids feel comfortable with peers.” And then we checked the box.

Jeff:
Not even peers, but 12 month gap, right?

Jeremy:
Yes. Yeah, almost exactly their age.

Jeff:
If you go over one year, one day over, it’s no good.

Jeremy:
You literally think that’s what socialization is. But we don’t understand that, that our kids need to be socialized intergenerationally. That is so important, if family is going to be important. Because guess how many people in their family, your kids are going to be that are almost exactly their age? There might be a cousin somewhere, right?

Jeff:
Yeah.

Jeremy:
If family is the value, your kids have to value people that are older and younger than them, and know how to build relationships and engage with all those different age ranges. This is just a principle that I think our culture has almost no value for. So Jeff, how have you seen this play out?

Jeff:
I mean, I totally agree. It just comes down to normalization too. If you’re just constantly around intergenerational relationships when you’re encouraging it. I mean, one thing, yeah, I mean, obviously, it comes down to the other parent. But we think Kinsley is responsible enough and big enough where we almost encourage, and she eats it up. That’s part of it too. Anytime we have a family over with a baby, we ask, “Can she hold her?” And she wants to.

Jeremy:
Yeah.

Jeff:
Now it’s to the point where she asks, like, “Can I hold the baby? Can I be with the baby? Can I watch the baby?” Even the other night, it was the best. We had some friends over, they brought their one month old over, and she wanted to lay her down in a separate room where you could still hear, but not fully to bed, just laying down. And one month old, you can’t roll over, you can’t do anything. But just needed to keep an eye on, so Kinsley was just volunteering like, “Oh, I’ll just go watch it.” So she just went and sat with the baby and pet her hair for… Stuff like that.

That comes down to, I think, just normalizing those relationships, encouraging those relationships. I don’t think babies are as fragile as people think, so I think that’s the one that really… You really set yourself up to fail, in my opinion, where you’re constantly telling your toddler, “Don’t touch. Don’t touch. Watch out. Watch out. Be careful. Be careful.” Now, of course, hold the neck appropriately. Of course, it’s a baby. If you got a crazy kid that just doesn’t understand that, then we don’t want the baby to get hurt, but I think we overcrank that one.

Jeremy:
Yes.

Jeff:
That, literally, I think starts that. Of just, “Be with your friend, and that’s it. Don’t touch anyone, see anyone, talk to anyone else.”

Jeremy:
Right.

Jeff:
Like, no, let them talk to the babies and touch the babies and stuff like that. And it builds up that trust, that desire. And then, yeah, obviously, the older relationships, intergenerational relationships. And just giving credence to the fact that teenagers are so much, they’re adults in common culture, and, I mean, in cultures past.

Jeremy:
Right.

Jeff:
So these lies we believe of like, “Oh, they’re going to hate family, hate kids, hate babies. Not want to be around anyone.” If you’re feeding that, then you’re not helping it. So try to look for little fun ways to resist that. And that’s an easy one right there.

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