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How Being the Youngest Child Influences My Parenting

I'm the baby of my family. I have two sisters, eight and four years older than me. I feel like I had it pretty easy growing up. One of my sisters always complains about how our parents were too hard on her and never let her do anything. But I guess once they got to me they had pretty much loosened up. Also, my sister and I didn't get along very well growing up. Maybe it was the age difference or just our personalities, but we definitely drove our parents crazy with our constant arguing. I can't help but think that my experiences as the youngest child and how I related to my sisters has shaped and influenced my parenting style today.

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Being the youngest means that I'm a little bit more "free" in my way of thinking. Isn't that typical of the youngest child? We just kind of learn to go with the flow and sometimes get wacky ideas that other people in the family don't quite understand. I think having that mindset has helped me go with the flow when it comes to my own kids. You want to wear your Spiderman costume to church? Okay. Pancakes for dinner? Why not. You want to jump and wrestle on the bed? Let's do it.

Having that experience has created a desire in me to make sure my kids have a close bond.

I also try not to force my kids into anything. We put our son in soccer after school and after a while he just wasn't digging it anymore. We had him finish out the season and as much as I wanted to sign him up for the next one, we didn't. I probably could have convinced him and maybe if I was an "older child" I would have more drive to get him into it, but I'm the typical "younger child" and letting my son try multiple different activities (like I did) feels more natural to me.

Another thing about being the youngest is that I often felt left out. You know how it can be—I was "too young" in the eyes of my sister to hang out with. I was into cartoons and she was into soap operas. She wanted to go clubbing and I wanted to stay home and read. We were just in different worlds and we weren't really as close as I wished we would be. Having that experience has created a desire in me to make sure my kids have a close bond.

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My kids are only a year and a half apart so that helps foster a close relationship, but on top of that I always try to remind my older child to love and include my younger child. I remind Liam that he has a big responsibility as an older brother. He needs to watch out for his baby sister. He needs to help her and care for her and play with her. So far it seems to be working as they really are each other's best friends. Sometimes I wonder if I put too much pressure on my son to be a good sibling and I have to remind myself not to always side with Isabel when a disagreement arises.

After all, I know better than anyone that little sisters aren't always the angels we appear to be.

Image via Kristel Acevedo

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