Mama of Multiples: Birth Order and Parenting

Birth order.

Do you have a ‘middle child’?

I do.
And I can’t tell you how many times I have had the ol’ ‘middle child’ conversation with people.

I often find myself saying, “I never bought into the whole birth order thing until I became a parent of multiple children, myself.”

It’s partly because my little Isla Rae is a spunky, independent, little bean.  She’s the life of the party and gives me the run for my money most days.!  (I adore all of my kiddos, btw.)
So, when sweet Miss Isla is up to her antics, or Ava is being maternal (ahem… or bossy), or the two of them are just cooing over “their baby”, Eden Grace…it’s easy to see how one can look at my three and say, “Yep.  There’s a classic portrait of birth order stereotypes in the flesh.”
I thought about this question.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot, lately.  

How would I parent each of my children if the birth order was given a switcheroo?  

What if Ava wasn’t always boxed into being ‘my big girl’, and Isla got to be my ‘baby’ a little longer, and Eden got my undivided attention for a whole 15 minutes, like she was the firstborn?  You get where I’m going with this?

I’m not saying to ignore or neglect your other children while you’re doing this little mental/emotional/spiritual exercise – please don’t do that.  But, what if you gave it a little extra consideration when putting your kids to bed, or playing with them, or even serving them their breakfast… 

How would my behaviors/conversations/responses be different if she were the first?  …the second?  …the ‘baby’?”

I constantly poured fervent prayers over Ava as an infant.  I was in awe of the miracle of life, the newness of motherhood, the awesome bigness of God’s love for us as His children.  I’d sing her little songs the whole way through bath time.  I’d patiently walk a whole .0004 mph behind her chubby little legs on the stairs while she was climbing as quickly as she could.  There were no ‘hurry ups’.  

I savored every moment and milestone just a little bit more intentionally.  

Now, that I’m in the throes of the daily grind, prayers can be more routine than should be, baths resemble quick hose-downs some nights.  If Isla’s taking a little longer than her sis, I quickly whisk her up the stairs… *sigh*

Ava was only ten months old when I got pregnant with Isla, and Isla was only 13 months old when I got pregnant with Eden, so neither of our older girls got to be ‘the baby’ for very long at all.  I find myself pushing them to be helpers, act a little older, BEHAVE like big girls, sleep alone in big girl beds, not have potty accidents, not whine, use their manners, have patience, clean up their messes, sit still in their chairs at meal times, ‘get off the floor’ in public, ‘use their inside voices’, buckle themselves in the car, help mommy do this or that…have i driven my point home yet???
I’ve been focusing on this topic internally, like I mentioned, for a little over a week now, and it has already done so much good (in my opinion) in regards to my parenting.  I am so much more patient with my girls.  Not saying I’m where I want or need to be yet, but I feel it improving.

So, yes – I personally believe that birth order has had an affect on my parenting.  You can probably relate to the fact that parenting has to vary in certain ways from child to child simply because no two children are the same anyway and will require an ‘i.p.p’ (individualized parenting plan – haha – teachers will get that joke), but birth order definitely plays a part in the mix as well.

In a nutshell – throw birth order ‘out the window’ for even a moment.  Embrace your kids for who they are and who they are ALONE.  Perspective really does change everything.  How we chose to perceive our kids in the moment could shift the entire day or maybe even your relationship with them in a whole new direction.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  And if you try this experiment out with me and examine how you interact with your children based upon their position in the family, I’d love to hear how it has affected you as a parent.  Are you seeing a change in yourself…in your kids?  Stop back and fill us in!

On that note… Good night and be blessed!

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  1. says

    Oh yes. Just today I was talking to my oldest about how being a big sister is a big responsibility. Her brothers watch what she does and follow in her footsteps. The whole time I was listening to these words coming out of my mouth and I was thinking, "She's four. Yes, I want her to listen and obey. I want her to act like my big girl. But she's four. Seriously." I can so relate :D.

    • says

      Thanks for the response, Whitney! You're right! And even as we're telling ourselves these things, isn't it amazing how it still comes out of our mouths with such certainty?! It's taking a conscious effort to relate to each child a little differently and with intention. You are a wonderful mom, and I appreciate your feedback!

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