family photo Tahlia Mandie The Parenting FilesTHIS post is by the wonderful Tahlia Mandie of the parenting files – because families matter and was inspired by two posts previously published here on Three Li’l Princesses. As a mum and psychotherapist, Tahlia provides some fabulous views on the topic of “family size and age gaps”.

THE thing about families is that they are all unique. Like no two-finger prints are the same, no two families are the same. Even those that come from the same blood line and generational line… still unique.

Kellie’s post on What’s Your Ideal Family Size? and What’s The Ideal Ideal Age Gap Between Children? raised some really great discussion and thought. So when the question of ideal was discussed, I could not help wonder what does ideal mean anyway?

Every answer was different, every story was different, and every thought and opinion was different.

There are lots of two’s in our family… our close immediate family that is. If I tracked back into my family tree I think I would find a maximum of three siblings. With eighteen months between my brother and I, we have always been close. Yes, we have had our fair share of wanting to throttle the other growing up, but now, as mature adults, we are pretty solid. I know he has got my back, and I have his.

Watching Brothers and Sisters religiously every week I was always inspired, in awe, and fantasising about that type of large family. The one where there is at least one person popping in every day, different dynamics, different shoulders to lean on, and for brothers and sisters to share their love differently across the large family. There is large laughter, excitement, entertainment and even dare I say it, drama.

There was always something happening.

There is always something happening.

So if I had to put a label on my ideal, this would be it – a large family of four children, hopefully with a mix of boys and girls, and a varied age gap between each.

But that is the thing about ideals; it is unique, individual and special. My ideal, my dream and my fairytale are my own created from my own experience, family relationships and dynamics. Something that comes from my value system and what is important to me.

We can try and plan, but yet we all know that plans sometimes do not work. Sometimes life takes us on a journey in a way that was not expected, not anticipated and certainly not even contemplated.

So as we evolve through life and grow through life, the fairytale has been adjusted somewhat. The man I married and his values and experiences, finances, priorities, life and simple genetics have impacted on this.

So maybe the question is not about what the ideal is, but rather, how we evolve, adjust and accept what has been given to us. How do we learn to change our once picture perfect fairytale to adapt to our current living, personal and relationship stage? There are certain things that sometimes we can’t control.

So I have my ideals, this is okay. As of today, we have one beautiful little girl. As of tomorrow, who knows… maybe my fairytale ideal will come true. Maybe it won’t. Maybe I need to adapt my ideals. This is ok. I know it will be okay. One way or another my dreams have come true.

{photo by Realtography}

Tahlia Mandie is a psychotherapist, family counsellor and mum who runs her own private practice, Direction Exploring and now runs her own blog, the parenting files – because families matter. Discussing all things parenting and family matters to the serious stuff to the not so serious stuff, the parenting files is spoken with a little witt, quirk and humour. Tahlia also writes regular columns and articles for magazines, newspapers and other online forums.

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12 Responses to Guest post: The uniqueness of family

  1. Maxabella says:

    I can see the wonderfulness of all kinds of families, from onlies to lots. You ate right in that we often can’t plan these things and sometimes our ‘ideal’ changes with ‘the reality’ anyway.

    Lovely to see you at Kellie’s today, Tahlia.

  2. Nee says:

    Perfectly said. I often think about my family dynamics (sibling relation ships in particular) and what I would like for my children but at the end of the day so many factors are out of our control. I think my “ideal” family will be the one that I am reflecting back upon when I’m 80 – whatever it looks like, it will be mine & it will be cherished.
    Nee recently posted..Cherish Your Cherubs: PraiseMy Profile

  3. “So maybe the question is not about what the ideal is, but rather, how we evolve, adjust and accept what has been given to us. How do we learn to change our once picture perfect fairytale to adapt to our current living, personal and relationship stage? ”

    I love this. I am one of 2 girls and hubby is one of 3 boys and I always imagined us having 3 kids a mix of boys and girls. We have 2 girls and after the 2nd I developed PND and no matter how much we thought we might have a boy or a 3rd child we decided together not to risk PND again 9we have no family here and finances would also play into it). We shifted our “ideal” and have been very happy with our girls. It is hard to let go of the possibility though, but acceptance comes with time…and 6 years later I know i am at peace with where we ended up.
    Deb @ Home life simplified recently posted..Personal Self Care – stop giving yourself the leftoversMy Profile

    • Deb, what you say about evolving, adjusting and accepting i think is something so true and important. So often we may get caught up in our ideals and ideas of what that perfect situation and scenario is. But in actual fact, there are so many things out of our control and life is all about evolving, adjusting, accepting and being flexible.

      As our journey through life takes us, our ideas need to change. Acceptance does come with time, and harder for some when the dream has been so clear for so long.

      I can only imagine that through challenges like yours, things would evolve, adjust and change, including your strength, courage and bravery.

      thanks for sharing your story and ideas x

  4. katepickle says:

    Loved this.. it is spot on!
    I truly believe that there is no ‘ideal’…. I may have ideas in my mind about what I would like my family to be, but I’ve learnt along the way that I can’t plan how or when my family will grow, and that I probably don’t really want to.

    Our family just sort of happened… not exactly how we planned it, but it is wonderful none the less. Sometimes I’ve had trouble accepting things as they happened (I still look at my twins and think “no freaking way!’) and currently I am having a little trouble accepting that we will probably have no more children (this wasn’t the plan, but circumstances mean it is probably how it will be), but there are so many wonderful things about our family (just as there are about any family) that I know that I will be happy, no matter what!
    katepickle recently posted..Wrecking Apart!My Profile

  5. Jodi Gibson says:

    I always wanted three boys. I ended up with four girls. It is perfect and I wouldn’t want it any other way 🙂
    Jodi Gibson recently posted..Something so smallMy Profile

  6. Eloise says:

    I come from a family of 5 (3 girls and then 2 boys – Im the eldest and am 17 years older than my youngest brother). My hubby comes from a family of 4 (3 boys and then 1 girl and he is a middle child).

    We are both very family oriented people and love spending time with our families but when I was 18 all I could think about was moving out and getting away from my brothers and sisters and all of the noise!

    I never, ever, EVER in my wildest dreams imagined I would have 4 kids – all boys – and only 5 years apart from the oldest to the youngest. They are now 8, 6.5, 4.5 and 3.5.

    Im not even sure how it happened (well, I mean, I KNOW how it happens) but it just seemed to happen before I even noticed hahaha. I think those first crazy 5 years have passed by in such a blur I can barely even remember half of it!

    But I feel so blessed and happy to have my little tribe. Its such an amazing experience to be the mother of 4 boys so close in age. Its a real challenge/joy/miracle/learning experience! My sister has a pigeon pair and I sometimes do think ‘oh its just so nice and easy (and inexpensive) with two’ but in some way I also think the universe gifted me with the boys in this life to make me realise how capable and strong I can be, and how much love I can give.

    But I am kind of grateful that my baby days are over and now coming up to 40 I can look forward to accomplishing some of the things Ive had to put off.

    I work 30 hours a week so its sometimes a struggle to give each of them the time and attention they need as individuals and we do tend to do everything in one big group. Even when they play at home, they all play together. And for some weird reason they like to sleep together (oldest with youngest and the middle two together – and sometimes all 4 on the floor in one big clump tucked up in their quilts and pillows as if they were camping!)

    My dream is that they all move out together at the same time and share a house….and then maybe, I might actually get some peace and quiet 🙂
    Eloise recently posted..Pinterest Party: Vintage JewelleryMy Profile

  7. bubble936 says:

    amazing post…

  8. Lisa Wood says:

    Each family is different and what works for one family might not work for the next! We have five boys (and wouldnt change a thing) but I do remember when our first two were little (they are 18 months apart) how tired I was. It was almost like two babies at once as they were both in nappies and both had reflux. Our other three boys were all 3 years apart. That was easier as we only had one in nappies, and one waking me up during the night time 🙂

    My ideal family is what works well for me – as long as my boys are happy then I am happy. The uniqueness of a family is what makes everything ok!

    Lisa Wood recently posted..Arrive SafelyMy Profile

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