We have jokingly talked so many times about stereotypical sibling things. The older one is generally the soft, care-taker one while the younger one is more of a chirpy person. In case it is two sisters, the older one is the mother figure for the younger one, no matter how close they are in age. It’s so easy and convenient for our brains to put people into set categories and assign certain qualities to them that we miserably fail to look at the person as is. As time passes by, and as the kid hears himself or herself listen to their family member’s perception of who they are, they mould themselves into it. But, many a times there is a conflict of personality between who the person is and who he is perceived to be.
Let’s imagine a situation where the older sister, A has after much difficulty learnt driving. The younger one, B plans to learn driving shortly and all the while hears motivating statements from the family members. However, those statements are with a clause; it’s a motivation in conjunction with the experiences of the older one. Now, whether B likes it or not, her work or achievement will always be tinted with that of the older one. Because, as the show 'Grey’s Anatomy' reminded me, only a handful of us know about the astronaut Pete Conrad who was one of the persons to walk on moon, but unfortunately wasn’t the first one to do it. We all remember Neil Armstrong who the first person who did it. Effort is effort made in absolutely good spirit even if that activity has been done earlier. Never evaluate or appreciate the second kid, and for that matter, either of them while using the other as a reference. It matters to the kid if he or she gets a chance to be viewed as an individual and not as a sibling.
It is so nice when someone says something like “I am so happy you joined this company and I could meet you.” If that statement triggered a smile, then you can only imagine how much happiness and sense of belonging it would instil in the mind of a kid when they are told that as parents, you had them because you wanted them and not just because you wanted the older one to have a sibling. It may not be possible for you to utter these statements during a normal day or a normal conversation. But you can always slip in that statement now and then when you speak to your kid. As a reminder, never underestimate the conversations you have with them even when they are tiny tots. We as kids, register it in some corner of our brain which pretty much reflects in our future behavior. There are so many memories in the minds of kids that are faceless, but the words are pretty strongly engraved.
In my understanding, parenting is a process of trial and error, much like life itself. Every experiment is unique, and every effort is commendable. Similarly, every parent becomes a tad bit more experienced when they have their subsequent child. With every child they may have opted for a few different styles of parenting. Generally observed, the older kid gets a lot more of disciplinary punishments and the younger one does not. A major part of the younger kid’s life is spent hearing how they were lucky enough to escape the so-called atrocities of the parents. However a light tone it may be said in, it leaves a sense of guilt in sensitive kids. For no mistake of theirs, they end up feeling that they were born with some sort of privilege and that was at the cost of their older sibling. This is hands down unfair!
So, is our life as the second kid in the family so bad? Absolutely not! Most of us are given enough and more of love and affection to have a stable environment to grow up in. But retrospective inspection gives some insights that are useful. Every generation will have a story to tell; a perception of issues or concerns of their own. Never dismiss any of it. Listen intently to what the kid says, irrespective of whatever age they might be of. It really doesn’t matter if they are the older one or the younger one, because all that we want is to be heard and recognized for their opinions solemnly!
Editor's Note -
Thank you for sharing your perspective as a second-born, Shriya. This will definitely help parents of multiples in making better parenting decisions.
Shriya is a finance graduate who thinks of making a number-crunching career but ends up words-crunching on most days. She loves to talk about money, books, music, and life in general. Shriya strongly believes in dressing up and facing the day!
You can read more from her on her blog and follow her on Instagram here.
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