Independence Difference

I thought of a very interesting theory the other day that made a lot of sense to me. So often, I have come across parents who have said that their first child needs more parental attention than their second. So much so, that it got me thinking. I am also a second child and, if I am not mistaken, I recall my mother telling me how independent and self-contained I was as a child. I have experienced the same thing with my own children but, although Jack does need more attention than Lucy, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he is clingy, not at all. I would say that it is Lucy that is somewhat extreme with her independence and sovereignity. So why does this happen? Why is their often such a stark gap of independence between the first two children? I think I know.

If you think about it, the first born child rarely gets a moment alone unless they are sleeping. We are so awed as brand new parents, so overwhelmed, so freaked out! It’s as if your entire future depends on how well you take care of your new baby. He or she is cuddled, passed around, oggled at, fussed over for his entire woken life. In truth, baby number one probably only gets a moment alone once he’s about four or six months old, when he can sit up, hold things and call mama.

By the time baby number two has arrived, the tumultuous dust of parenthood has somewhat settled. As parents, you are FAR more confident and relaxed. You have a “don’t-worry-she-always-has-a-little-choke-when-she-feeds” kind of take on the whole thing. You have the patience and composure to enjoy the little joys of babyhood that you missed the first time round. You also have another child to take care of so, by default, your second child gets a taste for independence much earlier on in life. She is left alone as a little one, not for hours on end to fend for herself, but for 10 minutes there, 20 minutes there. Just being, wondering, on her own, by herself until she no longer wants to be alone and cries. In a life that’s only a couple of months old, 10 minutes is a fair chunk of time and given enough opportunities to learn to be alone, a culture of independence is sown.

Clearly this is not the case with all siblings and parents but i think it clearly demonstrates the benefits that positive time alone can have on a child. I have found that allowing Jack and Lucy time alone as babies is certainly one of the building blocks of their confidence. Courage, self-assurance and problem-solving are born of confidence and you can’t be confident unless you know yourself.

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