I was on a walk when I ran into a family in the neighborhood. They have adult/married children as well as two kids still at home. While we were talking I saw a glimpse into their family dynamic (and what I assume to be similar dynamics to most every family.) The adult children were criticizing how the parents were parenting the youngest child – which was so different than how they were raised. They were confident their younger sibling is going to get whatever he wants and never have a curfew. They told sob stories of how strict their parents used to be and how they’ve paved the way for an easy life their younger sibling. Sound familiar?!
Of course everything was said in jest – but you could feel the accusation in their voice. It made me start thinking about my youngest. The older kids already think he gets away with everything – I kindly disagree, although I do recognize we parent him differently; partly due to experience and partly due to circumstance. I wouldn’t label it as “tired” or “lazy” parenting. More like a “does this really matter in the long run” and perhaps a more humble approach in admitting when we’ve made mistakes. But that doesn’t stop the older ones from spelling out how easy his life is going to be.
This is what they don’t see. They don’t see that he’s stuck at home with me all day when everyone else goes to school. Aside from Hallie (being the oldest) no kid has had all his playmates go to school and leave them home alone.
They don’t see that he’s stuck jumping from this practice, to this game, to someone else’s game and back to another practice. While my older kids got to play at home and in the neighborhood after school and on the weekends, he is at the soccer field. Or tennis court. Or basketball game. Trying to entertain himself with a package of grapes!
They don’t see that when he goes to high school, the focus still won’t be on him as the older kids start adult lives and families and we’re pulled in more directions.
They don’t see that he doesn’t go to the zoo or the children’s museum or the science museum like they used to – at one time we had annual passes to all of them and went on a regular basis!
They don’t see that everything he has is a hand-me-down from them.
They just see him as the youngest and how spoiled he’s going to be. Don’t get me wrong, being the youngest can have some major perks – but there is no perfect position in this family! And yet, he will probably spend the next 50 years trying to convince his siblings that he’s not spoiled and that his parents were hard on him too!