I have 2 daughters, the youngest aged 3 and the other one is 7 years old. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the soon-to-be 8 year old is no longer a baby, but she is. So often we get caught up with the youngest baby in the family, everything they do is cute, even when they are being naughty and pushing boundaries. They are the babies and sometimes remain babies well into their adult stages, unless another baby comes along.
The other day, my youngest daughter came crying into my room to ‘tell on’ her sister. I did not bother to investigate why she was crying, I just yelled, ‘kanti nimenzani?‘ (What did you do/are you doing to her?) Even though I know very well that she is going through those terrible two-years of throwing tantrums when things don’t go her way. I have observed this from many other moms and dads who just immediately assume the younger baby is helpless or defenseless, when they may just be the terrorist in the house. My eldest dishearteningly responded that she did not do anything to her sister, but explained that her baby sister was demanding more than her share of toys. The youngest has not quite grasped the concept of sharing as yet, but that’s a topic for another day, back to the issue at hand.
We need to find the balance between, raising independent and responsible human beings without pushing our older babies past the different stages. We give them assumed responsibilities, roles and duties: forgetting that they are equally entitled to the same love and attention as their younger siblings. This can cause animosity among them. The younger ones can learn to abuse this assumed innocence they have whilst the older one can resent their brother or sister because parents fail to strike the balance. I don’t have the solution, but if we are at least conscious of these dynamics, we can pay attention to avoid creating a rift between our children.
So the next time your little one comes running to tell you about what their older brother or sister did to them, ask. Look for opportunities for strengthen their bond, by allowing them to resolve their own quarrels, hugging it out. Teach them to cheer each other on. Spend time with each of them individually and as a family. There is no handbook for parenting, but through sharing our mistakes and lessons, I hope we can teach and learn from each other.
Remember, none of us have it all figured out, we’re all just winging it as we go along, so you’re doing just fine.
Please do share your tips below, on how you try to keep the balance and the peace.
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