One day, my daughter, in a fit of tears cried out “I feel like I’m second to A and I’m not as important in this family.” It broke my heart.
I thought I was very careful about making sure I treated my kids fairly. My son had to ask permission from C if he wanted to play with a toy she was already playing with. I tried as hard as I could to give my eldest as much attention as I gave my son. In fact, I sometimes feel I don’t pay as much attention to my son as he needs in my effort to keep it fair. However, my daughter has been an only child for 4 years prior to my son coming into the picture and as a result, she is a little more used to undivided attention.
Don’t get me wrong, my daughter is an excellent big sister. She’s caring, loving, protective and conscious of her little brother’s needs. Her big sister attitude extends to all the other kids around her. When she sees other children crying she tends to immediately jump to the rescue by giving them toys or distracting them with jokes or songs. She actually loves being a big sister.
Despite her taking to her big sister duties like a fish takes to water, she still struggles. She is constantly comparing to the treatment she’s getting compared to the treatment A is getting. If she doesn’t get to use a stroller, A doesn’t get to use a stroller even though he’s only 5 and she’s 9. If she needs to carry her bag, she expects A to do the same.
I’m struggling with what’s fair. And more often than not, I have to deal with a lot of complaints from her.
However, I know that her feelings need to be dealt with. And I need to deal with them calmly. So in the midst of her tears, I had to explain with as much patience and calm as I could muster that she’s very important to me and I love her with all my heart. I explained that A needs as much attention as she does and that she should also notice when I put her first. I explained to her that A is only 5 and it’s not possible for me to treat them both exactly the same way. My expectations from her are higher because she’s 9 and he needs a little more assistance because he’s only 5. I explained to her that in actuality, we’re treating A unfairly sometimes because I’m expecting him to display more independence at 5 than I expected from her at 6 or 7.
She managed to feel better after over 30 minutes of talking one on one. I kept repeating over and over again how much I love her. However at the end of the talk, I also asked for something from her. I asked her to try to stop comparing herself from her brother. I asked her to please be patient with her brother and to be patient with me. In return, I promised her that I’d also keep my actions in check and make sure I am as fair as possible.
We ended the talk with A knocking on the door and rushing in to hug away C‘s tears since he knew his big sister was feeling blue. C was back to her normal happy state.
For me though, it wasn’t over.
I was left wracked with self-doubt. I found myself analyzing everything I was doing and whether or not I was doing something wrong to have caused my baby girl so much anguish. I have discussed it extensively with Hubby S and despite all his reassurances, I am still unsure.
I want to give the best and to be the best parent to my children.
However, more often than not, I am unsure as to HOW.
Someone please tell me that their eldest kids are going through the same thing so I’ll know it’s not me.