Monday, November 25, 2013

Parenting Developmentally Opposite Kids

Okay, so if you are still with me, I just posted about where Adriana and Lucia are at developmentally right now.  You may have noticed that my girls are completely opposite - Adriana is stronger in language and cognitive development, whereas Lucia is stronger in social/emotional and physical.  When combined with the fact that Adriana is JUST LIKE ME and Lucia is not, this makes for some interesting parenting challenges.  

1) I am worried that Adriana will be "The Smart One" and Lucia will be "The Cute/Funny One" and how that will affect them.  While I never had a sister, I spent my entire second pregnancy hearing stories about Sister Issues.  I'm worried that the fact that the girls are so different is going to cause problems with their self esteem or make them super competitive with each other.  It's probably weird to worry about this before their personalities are formed enough to even know how well they even fit into these categories, but I do anyway.  

2) It's hard not to compare them.  I have joked since she was tiny that I think Lucia might be a bit of a ding dong.  This is because she didn't speak as quickly as Adriana, or learn her ABCs as quickly, and she still doesn't know her colors.  It's hard for me to keep things in perspective - she is a totally normal two year old, if not above average.  Just because she is learning at a different rate than Adriana does not mean she will be any less intelligent.  It also works in reverse...don't think I haven't noticed that Lucia was telling us she loved us without prompting before Adriana had even started doing that.  Does this mean Adriana won't be as loving of a person as Lucia?  No.  But it's still hard not to notice.  I am definitely very aware that I need to be careful about these comparisons and make sure that the girls know that I think they are both amazing and that none of their differences mean I love one more than the other or any of that nonsense.  They are just different, and I think it's cool that they are their own little people. 

3) I find myself reacting to them differently.  This one is a) because I see so much of myself in Adriana it scares me, b) Adriana talks like she is older, so I expect her to ACT older, and c) Lucia talks like a baby (and is the baby of the family), so I treat her like a baby.  I feel like Adriana had to grow up so fast, becoming a big sister at just 22 months.  I feel bad that Adriana didn't get to be a baby for long, and wonder if that is why she is still a little emotionally immature.  There is also this weird mix of being frustrated when she acts out but also totally remembering being EXACTLY LIKE HER as a kid, so I end up being way too hard on her and then feeling super guilty about it and overcompensating by being too lovey with her.  I can see why my mom has commented about me sending mixed messages.  Lucy, on the other hand, can be a total baby a-hole and I hardly yell at her because she's just a baybeeeee.  I am trying really hard to be more level headed and treat them equally and fairly, but I sort of feel like my progress will remain stalled until I get this damn Mirena out.  Ugh, I hate being yelling mom.  Hate it.  And the worst part is that all of this basically means that I am doing the exact same freaking thing to Adriana as my parents did to me - they were always way harder on me than my brothers.  I do see now that my personality sort of invites that.  Sigh.  

I want to know...do your kids' differences affect how you parent them?  How do you balance it out?  And if your kid is exactly like you, do you think it makes them harder to parent or easier?  

6 comments:

agirlandaboy said...

I'm in the exact same boat. One easy, mature, smart kid and one difficult, stubborn, crazy ding-dong (who is still a baby, so he gets away with a lot more just because he doesn't understaaaand). I don't think there's any way I could parent these two totally different kids in the same way, but I am definitely trying to figure out how to parent them fairly. And of course to make sure they know I love them no matter what.

Meaghan said...

I feel like the differences that you highlight are totally birth order things and not in your control. Well that's not what I mean, in your control, but not worth stressing about. I think the fact that you are cognizant of their differences and that you have to parent them differently, but fairly, means you are already on the road to success! I feel the same way about my two kiddos - my older daughter is smart and stubborn, but slightly socially immature. My son is a sweet terror, who gets away with murder because he is the baby (2 and half - not really a baby!)and a little bit slower with the language. It's hard, but I think you can just do the best you can with what you have and stay confident that you are being a GREAT mom!

Kate G said...

Since I have a similar situation with my two sons, I think we now have scientific proof that first children are higher-achievers and second children are more sweet ding-dongs. :) I actually have trouble parenting because my older son is a bit like me--quiet about his emotions but unable to handle them. And he picks on me and knows exactly how to push my buttons. I have trouble being calm with him. My younger son is a sweet, empathetic popular little boy like his father--so of course I am drawn to him (I fell in love with his dad, didn't I?). I try really hard to be fair with them both, but I am undeniably harder on the older son and less strict with the younger. I'm also always in new territory parenting my firstborn but more chill with the younger because I've been there/done that.

Mama Tully said...

Wow, great topic and I can TOTALLY relate to sooo much of this! First of all, my girls are totally opposite as well - among other things, one is more artsy and the other more athletic, one is more sensitive/dramatic and the other is funny/laid back. However, I think (hope?) this will facilitate an even better relationship for them. My husband likes to say that L is just like me and A is just like him, and he and I love each other, so it only seems right that they will be best buds too :)

Both of my girls are rather brilliant, of course ;) but if anything, I would say my younger is a bit more advanced than my older one was at that age, which actually works out well right now because it puts them at a more level playing field. The problem is that it causes us to have higher expectations for Adelle and we constantly have to remind ourselves that she is only 2. My husband especially struggles with this because she is an amazingly level headed 2 year old, so when her "two-ness" does come out it is so out of character for her and he has little patience for it. I, on the other hand, baby the shit out of her and want to just smother her with love when she gets dramatic because it is so rare for her and I want to make her all better. Lilah on the other hand, spent the entire year she was 2 in time out because she was ALWAYS losing her shit, lol!
Basically, YES, I totally parent my kids differently. I find it harder to deal with my older daughter who is just like me. On the plus side, my husband and her have an amazingly close bond, so I think he makes up for where I drop the ball.

k said...

YES! Oh my goodness sakes, yes.

Ezra can be very emotional (with certain things) and also very (verrrrrrrrrrrry) stubborn--his father might say he is a bit like his mother (ahem). Anyway, the level of stubborn sometimes makes me lose my mind. And often it makes me feel like I'm shouting at myself (ahem).

Iris? Iris, without fail, listens the first time I ask her to do something and is very, very agreeable. She is just simpler and easier in that way.

So yeah. I lose my patience a lot with Ezra and almost never with Iris. It can be hard.

P.S. This, "I have joked since she was tiny that I think Lucia might be a bit of a ding dong." made my laugh so very, very hard. And not because I think Lucia is a ding-dong but it's...just so funny. You're funny. : )

april said...

Yep, all over this one. Spencer was much further ahead than Henry is, and continues to be further along than all of his class. Henry knows actually much more than we thought he did, but he learns it different so the testing that the county does with the home daycare has been showing that for him. Neither kid listens worth a damn, but Henry is easily angered and holds grudges but is so very lovable. EMOTIONAL. Spencer I feel lacks backbone and cries for no reason.

Both ways of parenting are hard though, you know? I see more of me in Spencer, but the easy to anger in Henry - that's me too. Sigh.

(ps - we have always said that Spencer would be the smart one and Henry would be the cute/athletic one. We don't tell them these things, right? Wouldn't want to give anyone a complex.