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Do you expect more/too much of your eldest child?

10 replies

mollipops · 11/12/2002 08:45

I have been thinking about this for a while, and it seems to me that I expected much more of my older child (dd, now 6) than I did of my younger child (dd is 3.75) at the same age. Dh says the same, and that he sometimes feels he still expects too much of dd for her age, behaviour- and ability-wise.

Has anyone else experienced this? Is it to do with wanting to keep your "baby" a baby that little bit longer? Or is it because when you have your first child, you don't understand being a parent as well as you do (as well as any of us really do!) when 2nd or 3rd children come along, ie your expectations aren't always realistic or age-appropriate? And why oh why do we keep on doing it, even after we are aware that we do it?!

OP posts:

mollipops · 11/12/2002 08:48

Actually that should be dS is 3.75! Oops!

P.S. Also feel I "fell in love" with ds after he was born much more and much sooner than I did with dd - I had mild PND after she was born, mostly I think due to isolation, both geographically and from family. It doesn't seem fair on her, that these feelings have somehow been superimposed on my feelings about her now.

OP posts:

SoupDragon · 11/12/2002 09:03

I think it's because your 1st born grows up hugely when the second comes along. The second remains your baby for longer or until a 3rd arrives I guess.

We certainly expect too much of DS1 as we forget he is only 3y 10m. His language is incredible and makes him sound much more grown up than he is.

I doubt your original feelings have clouded your feelings about DD now. I loved DS2 much more/quicker because his was the easier birth, I got to feed him and hold him right away and was leven left completely alone with him for a while. This was all in complete contrast to DS1 where I needed extensive repair work in theatre and didn't see him for 3 hours or so. I really don't think I love one any more or less than the other now, just differently as they are such different personalities.


prufrock · 11/12/2002 09:48

It doesn't get any better as they get older. My Mum readily admits that she is a "better" parent to my sister (her 3rd child) than she was to me or my brother (the middle one) With me she was far too strict and demanding, with my brother she went the other way and was far too relaxed. I am therefore an anally retentive, over-focused perfectionist who won't accept help from anybody, whilst my brother is a worthless layabout who thinks the world owes him a living. We just hope that our sister (currently 14) turns out to be somewhere in the middle!


tigermoth · 11/12/2002 11:39

I think about this too mollipops. I am a more relaxed parent with my youngest ds age 3 and a bit. I'm more lax with everything - sleep training, potty training, speaking, moving from bottle to beaker, interest in numbers and letters - I know why as well. My oldest ds passed these milestones when he wanted to, not when I wanted him to. My input made at most 25% difference, I'd say. Having seen my oldest grow into and out of these phases, I'm more inclined to let nature take it's course with the youngest. I imagine this will continue once the youngest is at school, too.

I am also more able to take toddler tantrums and procrastination in my stride - I often think nothing my youngest does can be worse than what his brother threw at me!

I love them both very much - and right now I am getting lots of pleasure in seeing how the toddler exceeds my expectations - he is certainly boisterous, but unlike his older brother has not gone through a playfighting/hitting phase (as yet).I was used to my oldest sons nursery workers taking me to one side every month or so to relate the latest episode and quite expected this to happen with my youngest, but his first term at nursery has been very peaceful.

We were making cakes yesterday - the toddler actually followed my instructions and didn't spill anything. I could hardly believe it I am not used to this sort of little boy.


KMG · 11/12/2002 19:37

I certainly have always expected less of the younger one ... I put it like that because when I go in to school to help, and see what the children do there, I realise that they expect more of ds1 than I do, and they generally get it!


Jimjams · 11/12/2002 20:24

I am a totally different parent to ds2. Partly because ds1 is autistic. My persepctive on absolutely everything has changed, my priorities have changed, what I want for my children has changed, even my friends have changed! I don't really expect ds1 to grow up (it wouldn't be realistic anyway)- he's still a baby although he's three and a half. My problem will be making sure I don't expect ds2 to be older than he is. How do I explain it's OK for ds1 to do something because he doesn't understand but not ds2 because he does? Tricky - haven't got there yet but I suppose we will.


susanmt · 11/12/2002 23:36

Totally OT, but Prufrock, it is interesting to meet another adult with a teenage sibling! I have a 16 yo half sister (I am nearly 32 0 next week) and my Mum is SO relaxed with her compared to me! Hope she will grow up to be less of a perfectionist than I am too!


susanmt · 11/12/2002 23:36

thats 32, not 320 - though I feel it some days!!


prufrock · 12/12/2002 09:28

I also have a brother of 22 susanamt. I was the leftover from Dad's first marraige, brother (aka Goldenboy) was the wanted child, and sister was the menopausal accident! I do sometimes feel sorry for my Mum though. The week after seeing me in hospital giving birth she was in with my brother having 2 ops on his broken arm after a drunken accident, and a week later with my unconcious sister after her horse rolled on top of her! Two weeks after that her Mum had yet another replacement hip op. It makes me v. determined to get all my kids born quickly!


susanmt · 12/12/2002 11:10

Yep, sounds a bit like us! I'm 32 (on Monday!), have a sis of 30 and a bro of 24. Then my parents split up, we stayed with Dad (long story), he remarried so gained 3 more bro's, now 26, 24 and 22. Mum also remarried and had younger sis, now 16.
Like you, I want to have mine over with (in fact, I have already got mine over with, barrin accidents) in a short (2 yr) period. I find it a bit bizzare that my Mum, who is my kids Granny, is still fussing with appointments for acne and stuff. And even worse, she didn't ever have to do it before, so this is all new to her in her 50's!
But it is also nice that she is a bit more 'up to date' as a parent - for example she bottlefed me in the early 70's, but breastfed my sis for 8 months in the mid 80's and was really encouraging about that.
OOOps, have rambled on! Sorry!

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