It's Okay That It's Different

After last week's post, where I talked about how having the second baby is different, I got a few responses from people saying how they feel bad for their first child.  By the time their second child comes around they know more of what they are doing, and the general thought process seemed to be that the first child got short-changed because the parents didn't have as much experience for the first as they do for the second child.

So I thought I should address this before moving on with this series.  Yes, you do have more experience for your second child. And that is because your first child is the one that changed you into a mother.  You can see yourself changing before your very eyes with that first baby.  But does that mean the first baby is being short-changed?  That all subsequent children will have it better because mom finally knows what she's doing?  Not at all.

Mothers have been raising first babies with zero mothering experience since the beginning.  And you know what?  Their lack of experience generally does not mess up the first child.  On the contrary, firstborn children are typically the achievers and leaders in the family.  Over half of our U.S. presidents have been firstborn children, and over 90% of the first astronauts that the U.S. sent into space were firstborn children (source).  The fact that their mothers raised them with no experience didn't seem to hurt them much, even though their mothers may have felt just as worried about the "mistakes" they made with their firstborn.

There are definitely benefits to being a firstborn, and there are also definite drawbacks.  But so it is with any birth order.  Derek and I actually have an ongoing (friendly) discussion about who has it harder, the oldest (that would be me), or the youngest (that would be Derek).  

Bottom line - you are not going to mess your first child up just because you make "rookie" mistakes in your mothering journey.  If kids were messed up that easily, I think every person on earth would have issues, because even the best parents don't handle everything perfectly, with any of their kids.

As a firstborn myself, I sometimes tease my parents that I was the "experimental" child - that they made all their mistakes on me.  But honestly, it's all in jest - I'm happy I was a firstborn child.  Even if it is true that I was the "experimental" child, I know that being the oldest has made me who I am today, and I'm grateful for it.  I also think that it's kind of cool that I was the baby that turned my mom and dad into parents.  It's not a drawback.  It's rather special.  

Don't let your inexperience with your first worry you or make you feel like the second child has it better.  There are good things about both situations, and it's okay that things are different for one child as opposed to another because of birth order.  The world needs it to be different.  It needs firstborn personalities, middle, and youngest personalities.   I think God knew that and designed personality dynamics that way on purpose. It's a good thing.  

Do your best with each of your children, be as fair as you can.  But also learn from your experiences, and apply those lessons without giving yourself a guilt trip.  

It's okay.


If you have any specific questions/comments for me, comment below and I'll make sure to cover it in a future post!
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Lauren said...

You know as I read this, I actually feel exactly the opposite. I'm already feeling a little sorry for any future kiddos. They won't have the excessive amounts of one on one time that Elyse has had, they'll have some expectations put on them that aren't realistic simply because "well your sister did this... and your sister did that..." And maybe the one that I'm going to miss the most is the fact that when Elyse wakes up early from a nap I can go into her nursery, cuddle down with her, and just rock her back to sleep for however long. My second child won't have that luxury because I'll have another child to tend world will revolve around 2 little lives...and not just one.

Vanessa Miller said...

I think that what you lack in experience with a first child you make up with enthusiasm. I mean let's face it, the first smile, laugh, crawl, walk with a first child is like the most amazing thing ever.

Callie said...

I totally agree with that!

Callie said...

I actually feel more like you do too Lauren - I know with my subsequent babies my attention is divided, my first got that one on one time! I was a little surprised that some readers felt bad for their first baby after my last post. I guess it just goes to prove there is always something we mothers can feel bad about. ;-)

Brittney said...

Aww I so love this - the post and the series. Thank you for your wise words of encouragement! I often struggle with Mama guilt, guilt over my firstborn not getting attention while the baby is fed, changed, etc. or guilt that my baby's not getting the same attention my firstborn did as a babe (I don't rock him often or spend as much time talking to him, etc.) Guilt about not being as kind or patient with my first son because my time is divided. Guilt that I haven't gotten as many pictures up or as much of the baby book done or blog posts with my secondborn! The guilt, it seems at least right now, never ends and there is no clear path to finding peace about all this. But your blog is definitely giving me some, knowing at the very least that both these kiddos will (God-willing;)) turn out just fine, so THANK YOU, sweet friend:)

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

These are great words for me, as I'm a firstborn pregnant with my own firstborn. I do feel like there's a unique bond between my mom and I that is different than what she has with her other kids. I was her only child for 5 years, and we are incredibly close. And now I'm getting ready to have a firstborn son, which could be a completely different experience. Lots to look forward to!

Inspired said...

Any tips on prepping number one before the second arrives? (Especially when they are young to fully understand?)

Or behavioral tips that worked with number one as he adjusted?

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