Birth Order and its Consequences!
Birth Order Matters!
Ever since my girls were born, I have noticed almost on a daily basis how very different they are, and how my parenting has had SO much to do with it. I find myself scolding Cidnée, for example, for being so cautious, when with every breath I am telling her to be careful.
Danielle, I am annoyed at her lack of organization and 'laissez-faire' attitude, when it was me who
let her get away with it in the first place as I never had enough time to enforce good
clean-up policy when she was little.
So many facets of my children's personality and habits have been groomed by my parenting and I believe I know why they are the way they are. Birth order has much to do with it, and birth order has everything to do with the way a mother and father parent that particular child.
In giving birth to Cidnée, I remember being incredibly overwhelmed by such a huge responsibilty. I worried about everything. Everything! Is she too hot, too cold, is she in pain, why is she looking at me like that, is she getting enough to eat? Not that I don't worry now, because I do, but certainly not like before. I remember how a sniffle or a cough could send us running to emergency with Cidnée bundled in our arms. Doctors were less than patient with us, but humored us all the same. I could very rarely relax when she was a baby. I recorded everything she did in a journal. She ate at 6, she burped at 6:30, she pooed at 7, she slept at 7:30...I'm sure you get the picture. When I brought those journals to the well-baby check-ups, I'm sure my doctor was trying hard not to laugh out loud.
I was also very adverse to letting her cry. Crying was not something I could listen to, and Cidnée learned very fast how weak mommy was in that department. As most mommies very well know, babies are very astute and, well, I paid dearly for my weakness. By the age of 6 months, Cidnée held me prisoner and it took until she was 2 years old to finally find the strength and willpower to make her an independent human being who did not need her mother for everything.
reflection, I realize that my inability to let her experience natural
human emotions, left her feeling insecure about herself and how she
could soothe herself when she needed to. Something I had tried very
hard NOT to let her feel. But her security was always found in me, and
that robbed her of a very important building block in life. Security in
oneself. And do not be fooled, this is a building block that begins
early in life and is extremely important. And don't forget, this
mistake that mothers sometimes make with first borns, can also rob a
father of his ability to be an independent parent when he needs to be. This is another connection I have made. Of course in time,
fathers rebond with their children and the bond grows strong quickly,
but the pain and suffering that we went through to show Cidnée her
independence is just not worth it. And believe me, suffering and mental
pain is what we went through.
However, regardless of all that, at 6, Cidnée is a wonderful little girl. She is smart and sweet, helpful and kind. She never fights with her friends and has been awarded the pencil of 'good behaviour' several times throughout the school year.
But Cidnée is also a little worrier, just like her mother.
She is afraid to climb too high, terrified of hurting herself and takes
very little risks in life. Though this trait in her is a relief at
times, I know that it will hold her back in life and so her father and
I are slowly trying to undo what we have done. When she falls on the
pavement and scrapes her knee now, we try not to make a big deal out of it
because she makes a big enough deal herself. And when she is trying
something new, I try not to yell out 'BE CAREFUL!!!', although the
words are always at the tip of my tongue. I would never want to change
who Cidnée is, never. But I know that her fear was fostered by me and
that is what I am trying to change. And little by little, we are seeing
it come about.
My regret about Cidnée's younger years is that I worried so much about everything, that I couldn't enjoy anything.
When Danielle was born, my life was hectic. Cidnée was difficult (as mentioned above), and I simply did not have time to be the same mother to Dani as I was to Cidnée. Now there can be two sides to that coin. Danielle was the most independent baby. She slept on her own, rarely cried and was altogether a very 'whatever' baby. She was content on her own, or in someone's arms, and those arms did not have to be mommys. We marveled at her and felt so lucky to have such a wonderful baby who demanded very little of us. It was a huge change and we took full advantage of it.
As Dani grew, she stayed the same. Loving and calm,
and really funny, and she never really asked anything of us. I was still wrapped up in the
nuances of Cidnée and the act of trying to extract her from my arms
24/7, so I never had the chance to teach Dani the same things I had
taught Cidnée. And when I did teach her things, if she refused to do
what I told her to do, I would usually let it go, because I didn't have
time to make her do it, and I would tell myself, 'she is so good
anyway, it doesn't matter this time!'
Today Danielle is still the loving and calm child of her early years. She is very outgoing and unafraid of new people or situations. This, as a parent, is very scarey at times because we need to instill in her that she cannot trust everyone without making her afraid. But what we know of Dani is that if a stranger asked her to help him look for a cat, she would not think twice. We are currently working with her on this. She is not really great at cleaning up or helping around the house, but we are also working on that.
One thing about Dani is her
devil-may-care attitude. She falls and picks herself up again. She
rarely makes a big deal out of it. She doesn't necessarily watch where
she's going and so injures herself much more often than her older
sister, but she lets it go and doesn't dwell on it and that is a
My regret in Dani's younger years is that I didn't have the time to enjoy her, because I was too busy worrying about Cidnée, but I am certainly enjoying her now.
Now with my little Maksim, I like to think I have changed. And I honestly believe I have. I don't often worry, I play with him and forget the housework for a while (something I have only just begun to be able to do). I take him everywhere and don't pay mind to any kind of schedule pertaining to naps and such. I leave him with his grandparents so I can take care of myself at the gym, and though I think of him constantly, I know I need to let him be with other people so that he knows that others can care for him and that he will be fine no matter what. I let his father give him a bottle and I don't feel jealous that Maksim enjoys it, and I let him fuss in his bed because I know he's tired and that he needs to sleep. I'm not sure what this kind of parenting will turn out in Maksim, but I know for me that I feel a lot better about it and life is good.
Birth order is certainly a factor in how our children relate to the world around them, there is no doubt about that. Though there are things that I wish I wouldn't have done in raising my children, it must be a universal parental mistake or else there wouldn't be so many books written on the subject. So the next time you're feeling guilty about how you may be responsible for your child's behaviour, remember, there are millions of parents who did the exact same thing as you! Including me! :)
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