Quick poll of parents (and non-parents) out there… who has ever said, “We’re gonna make sure to parent our second like we did the first one.” Then the second one actually comes along…
A simple example: When our 1st did what our 2nd is doing below, we immediately pushed his foot back down under his tray and said, “No thank you. Please keep your feet down.” This would happen over and over for days and weeks until he started to get the idea and before we’d say “No,” he would make a little face and comply by not even attempting it. Our decision rested on our thought, “If we let him get away with this, then what else would he think he could do?” Plus we said, “We don’t want him learning bad habits at the dinner table.” Well, yeah, both are good points, but come on. He’s barely 2 and can hardly understand or communicate.
After the 1st got older, we realized that he physically couldn’t get his legs up around the tray anymore. Did we do anything wrong by encouraging good table manners for weeks and weeks and thousands of leg-redirection efforts? Probably not. We didn’t know any better. Yet, he did learn. And so did we. We didn’t stress about the 2nd putting his feet up for a few months, because we knew he’d either stop on his own or he wouldn’t be able to very soon. As he grows, we can implement more practical table manners as his maturity allows.
Don’t beat yourself up when you’re on the 2nd kid and you do things differently. You’re different. Emily and I have realized that there is really no chance to parent the 2nd the same way. If you think you can, well here are some irrefutable facts that are working against you:
1. You’ve learned things from the 1st and you can’t unlearn them.
2. You have an older one running around, which requires more of your time, so the 2nd automatically gets less attention.
3. The 2nd has their own unique personality and needs.
This may seem like a simple thing and you’re probably saying, “duh.” If you had told me this before kids I’m sure I would’ve agreed with you and understood the concept, but I wouldn’t have had the clarity until I experienced it firsthand and grew through it.
Do your best today. Make the best decision based on your knowledge at the moment and continue to fail, adapt, improve and find even more joy each day!