I remember having to deal with a greater level of responsibilities since I was the first child and now I see history repeating itself. I see myself naturally having higher expectations of my older child. I try to be fair but part of it is his personality as well. He tries to behave older while my younger son is happy to be the baby and get pampered. That just makes it seem even more natural for me to expect the older one to behave more responsibly at every age.
The younger child also has it easier since the parents are “broken in” on many things and are more relaxed having been through those things once already. I am six years older than my younger brother so of course my parents thought he was the baby and I should be the responsible one who should help them out and handle things on my own. However, my children are less than two years apart and I still see that pattern developing. I try to be aware of these things and not be harder on my older son but he just seems more mature despite being 9 years old. The younger one seems more cutesy and needy and we respond to that by treating him accordingly.
Now and then I stop and wonder why I didn’t worry about Shaan (older son) on his first day at school but was so stressed over how Amar (younger child) would handle his first day. They both were fine of course, but I shouldn’t have assumed that more about Shaan than Amar. Is it unfair? Is it because of the sibling order? Or, is it just because of their personalities? The older one is constantly volunteering to help me out while the younger is happy to chill out until he’s called out on being lazy. After this happens for a while though, they both start fighting because Shaan will eventually get frustrated of having to do more work. Yet, when I tell him the next time to let Amar do it, he doesn’t and wants to get the credit for helping out. Have I made him that way because I give him praise for being responsible so he is conditioned to keep doing extra to get that reward and reaction? On the other hand, do I just show Amar that parental pride for being himself and being my baby, no matter what he does? I also see more of myself in my older child so I guess I know what makes him tick and know what buttons to push to motivate him. Amar, on the other hand, is very different from me so it is a challenge to decipher what motivates him.
I love both my children equally and think they are the best thing in the world. However, I’m not sure if am always fair in my expectations. Recently when I was late to pick both my boys up from an activity, Shaan was the one in tears and Amar was calm. This was a shock to me and served to remind me that even though Shaan seems independent and older, he is still young and needy in many ways. Amar is always labeled “Momma’s boy” since he seems so dependent yet he surprised me by staying strong and composed and reassuring his brother. It goes to show that sibling order shouldn’t always determine who is more responsible, etc. I guess as long as I keep asking myself these questions and trying to be fair, maybe I will be. I suppose the ‘equal but different’ love is okay if I make sure I listen to the boys’ concerns on how they feel about each other and us. The rest they may have to discuss in therapy someday…..