‘The younger kid gets the shaft’: mom on second child vs firstborn
WATCH ABOVE: Do second-borns get the short end of the stick? Trish Kozicka reports.
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby girl, royal officials said on Saturday. But, unlike with her firstborn, there’s hasn’t been nearly the same level of hysteria for the so-called “spare,” who is fourth in line to the throne. That might be because, in general, a woman’s first baby just seems to get way more attention. Sorry, second-borns.
Writer Jen Simon will very honestly attest to that. She has two boys, aged five years and 21 months, and admitted there were some major differences between her first and second pregnancies.
“When you’re pregnant for the first time people act like you’re this goddess. Like you are this adorable beaming pregnant lady. And they tell you to sleep all the time, they tell you to pamper yourself,” she confessed.
“When I had my second pregnancy, I didn’t have time for any of that. I wasn’t a delicate flower anymore. I had gone to the trenches and I had done it…there was no time for pampering, let alone sitting down.”
Her anxiety level was also way higher during her first pregnancy, she said, admitting to once crying at a restaurant thinking about lotion she had put on and wondering if she could have hurt the baby. She also worried that watching Law and Order would turn her firstborn into a serial killer. Not so much with her second. Her biggest worry with him was if she would sleep.
Another big difference was when it came to documenting moments. With her first one, Simon did the whole “pregnancy progression” belly photos. With her second one, she forgot all about that.
She also wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly when her second son rolled over or started walking — milestones meticulously marked down in “the cutest baby book” for her firstborn. She had a nursing journal for him, as well, in which she kept track of her feedings. With her second, “it was like, ‘you’re hungry, here’s a boob, dig in.’”
READ MORE: Tips for parenting 2 kids under 2
In her new house, she only has one picture of her younger son (she hasn’t gotten around to printing pictures of the little one yet).
“Definitely the younger kid gets the shaft,” she said.
“I think the second time around, you learn that there are a lot of important things you need to know about having kids, and the things that aren’t so important you kind of just let go.”
In some families, that relaxed attitude can mean less pressure on the second-born. And sometimes, that translates to getting away with more. Take Prince William and Prince Harry, for example. Remember that time Harry was caught covering his ‘crown jewels’ in Vegas? It was in 2012, around the same time William was off saving lives.
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There are plenty of theories on how birth order affects kids (fun fact: if there’s a large gap between two siblings, they can each take on the personality traits typically associated with either a first or only child). To avoid the dreaded “second baby syndrome,” though, there are things parents can do not to exacerbate the natural competition that exists between siblings — like not showing you have a favourite.
“People in their 40s will talk about the fact that there’s still resentment because [their brother was the] favourite,” said parenting coach Terry Carson. “And there’s hurt feelings about that.”
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Her advice to parents: rather than comparing your children, focus on their unique strengths and make them feel special and valued for those.
SOUND OFF: We want to hear about your experience in the comments section below! If you have kids, how did your pregnancies compare? If you have a sibling, how did your birth order affect you?
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