It’s been said many times, “kids don’t come with a hand book”, and no matter how many books you read, parenting is a learning experience.
We had this conversation with our kids the other day because even we can see the difference in our parenting from one child to the next. If we can see it, I am sure the kids can see it.
Here’s what we discovered during that conversation:
Everything Eleanor (our eldest) does is new to us. She is the first 11 year old we have ever had to parent, so we react to her in the way we react to any new situation. We are cautious and maybe a little scared.
Ethan is 8, and whenever he does anything, we say “Remember when Eleanor did that?” We react completely different with him because we’ve been there before. Does every 8 year old challenge the school lunch? I’m thinking, maybe so. The 2nd child doesn’t get punished nearly as harshly though.
Rebecca is 6 and by the time she hides her uneaten sandwich in her bedroom garbage can, I question if we will even take away her treats for the week. Maybe Kathy Buckworth was right, and I should be content that I sent a lunch. If they don’t eat it, well, that’s their own fault.
I see us relaxing as parents… with the younger kids. Siobhan (our youngest), has a whole lot of leeway because she’s not doing anything that we haven’t seen before. I think maybe she is learning more and faster because we give her so much room to do what she wants.
Being the youngest of 4, I know that the rules change for each kid. The first child has to forge the way, the 2nd child gets slightly more wiggle room, the 3rd child tries to push the limits even further, and the 4th child has to do something drastic, like get a tattoo, for their parents to react. I may speak from experience.
So, while Eleanor is heading into her teenage years with red tape at every turn, Siobhan will turn 2 with Skittles in her pocket and an open road ahead.