It’s funny how our kids never remember to take out the trash, or how to put wet clothes in the dryer if they want them dry, but if they have a younger sibling, they remember the exact time they had to go to bed when they were 9, what time their curfew was when they were 15, and how many days old they were when they got their phone so they can remind you the younger sibling has it way easier than they ever did.
I’ve had three kids and with each one I can feel myself relaxing a bit more, letting them stay out a but later, having a phone and social media accounts a bit earlier, letting them stay up until I go to bed instead of making them turn in a few hours earlier.
My oldest has been reminding me lately that when he was his brothers age, he was going to bed at 8 o’clock at night and I let his brother stay up until 10–and he’s right.
He’s also mentioned his brother got a phone earlier than he did, which is also true but in my defense, it was my old phone and my oldest got a brand new one.
He says things like, “I bet his curfew will be later than mine too. Oh, and he does way less chores than I did when I was his age.”
My son has a very valid point and I have to constantly remind myself just because my youngest isn’t paving the way like my oldest did, it doesn’t mean he gets a get out of jail free card– he needs to earn certain things too by getting older, and having more life experience before he’s truly ready. Me being comfortable with him going on group dates doesn’t necessarily mean he should.
I remember I used to get so mad at my mother when I’d watch her let my younger sister do things she never would have let me do when I was her age, and buy her things she never would have purchased for me– like really expensive clothes from the Delias catalogue.
When we have more than one child, we can be more uptight and enforce stricter rules for the first one. Then as the years pass, and it’s the younger sibling’s turn to go out at night, drive, and have more responsibilities, it’s easy to let the experiences of out other kids dilute our comfort level simply because it’s not our first rodeo.
Maybe there were times I was too strict with my oldest and it’s my call, yes. It’s also my choice to loosen the reins a bit when it comes to my children, but I want to remember why I established the rules with my oldest in the first place.
One, because it’s fair and I hated seeing my younger sisters getting to do things my parents never would have let me do at their age. But more importantly, I want to make sure I base my rules and privileges in an age-appropriate way and be conscience about my decisions around that choice.
Am I letting them do something because their brother or sister never struggled with it, or never got into trouble doing something? Does that really mean my other child can handle it just because it doesn’t feel so scary to me?
It’s hard not to let our youngest child fall through the cracks in many ways. They often get forgotten; they settle with hand-me-downs, and often times never get to experience having their own rooms.
I want to make sure I don’t let the baby of the family fall through the cracks in other ways by letting him do things before he’s truly emotionally ready for it just because I’ve been through it with my other kids and everything went smoothly.
When it comes to raising our teenagers, there is nothing wrong with slowing down and second guessing your decision, then changing your mind if you want to.
Because if you don’t stop yourself and ask if you are being too cautions and too safe more often than you are feeling a bit unsure, hoping for the best, or letting them do something because all the other kids their age are doing it (according to them anyway), then you may be compromising your parental beliefs and taking chances you aren’t comfortable with.
But of course, as parents we always reserve the right to change our mind, change the rules, and remind our kids who the boss of the house is.