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November 25, 2013

What I Want My Son to Know

Here’s a nice blog post for Thanksgiving week. Chris Snell manages our Inside Sales Team at Care.com. Right before he and his wife welcomed their second baby, he took the time to write to his first born. As parents, it’s a sweet reminder of everyday joy we have to be thankful for. 
 

Blog-second-siblingMy house is quiet.  My son is asleep up in his room (or at least I hope he is).  My wife Krissy, who’s about to give birth to our second child (seriously, I’m talking days away here), has fallen asleep watching Sunday Night Football, and all I can think about is how our world is going to be completely changed in a such a short amount of time.  For six years it’s just been the three of us, and now we’re about to welcome another little Snell into the world.

My sister and I are only a few years apart, so I don’t remember at all what it was like when my parents brought her home.  Did I feel jealous?  Did I try to help parent?  I haven’t a clue what it felt like to have someone invade “my” territory. But I do know that we are very close now.

I’m concerned that our little guy is going to feel forgotten when that little bundle of joy comes home.  I’m afraid that he’s going to notice that all of the focused attention he’s been accustomed to for so long -- is now shared.  What’s going to happen when hurricane-new-baby lands in his living room? Every. Day?

That said, I thought I’d share with you some things that I hope our little guy knows in the wake of the arrival of his little sister (yeah, we found out):

Mommy and I love you VERY much – Just because there’s another family member here, doesn’t mean that Mom and I love you any less.  In fact, Mom and I love you more than you’ll ever know. I want you to see how we dote on this baby and know that we did the same exact thing for you when you first came home too.

You will always be our baby – It doesn’t matter how many children we have, you’re our first and will always be our little baby boy.  For a little while, it’s going to feel like your new sibling is getting everyone’s attention, but that doesn’t mean that we love you any less. In fact there’s going to be so much about you that we appreciate even more now.

The crying in the middle of the night will eventually stop – Buddy, it’s just something babies do.  They’re trying to find their sleeping rhythm.  You went through it, too, and look at how great you sleep now.  I promise that Mom and I will try to keep you from it, but our house only has so many rooms.

As a big brother, you’ve got a lot of responsibility now – Your sister is going to look up to you, and will want to do everything that you can do.  That’s a big deal, pal.  You’ve got to help show her how to make good decisions and make good choices. I want you to try to be her friend. You will have each other for life, and that’s the best gift Mom and I can give you.

We’re going to need your help – There are going to be some times when we need your help, bud.  We may need you to pay extra close attention to our words.  We may need you to listen really hard to what we say. Harder than you have before.  This means doing what we ask the first time we ask you, like cleaning up your toys or getting dressed all by yourself.  Regardless, we need you in the game, pal. I know you’ll have days when you’re good at this, and days when you get frustrated. We will be here for you for either of those days.

Most of all pal, we want you to know how very special you are.  From the moment Mommy and I found out you were coming, we couldn't wait to see you.  We have that very same feeling each and every morning waiting for you to wake up, to come home from school, when I come home from work, or when we come back from a night out.  You are our little prince (or knight, as you like to say) and no addition to our family will ever change that.
 
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Comments

Joe

Thanks for sharing. We are expecting #2 and I have been worries about the same things. This was great, and I will be sharing with my wife and daughter.
-Joe

NewMomOnceMore

Loved this post. I've been through the same situation last year, when we welcomed our son; little brother to our 6 year old daughter. Very similar fears and thoughts ! But an year through this, and there have been many more than a few instances when she has amazed us with her thoughtfulness ! It's beautiful to see her transitioning from the baby of the house to the little lady of the house :)

Andrew

Well written post. We have a 6-year-old daughter who, in September, helped us welcome two new sisters into the family. It has helped that the twins, who we think are identical, are really mellow and easygoing. So far.

We started adjusting older daughter's expectations months before, when we explained she might be getting not one new sister but *two*, and what they will do for the first months-to-a-year time. So nothing has been a surprise to her. They were in NICU for 2 weeks after being born, learning how to eat and putting on a little weight. She would go with us to visit them, and it sort of eased her into them joining us. (It eased all of us into it!)

I completely renovated her room this summer, from the house's old master bedroom, including a bigger closet and ripping out the walls and insulating better. She can roll her door shut and there's no interruption to sleeping, etc.

There really has been no jealousy, complaining, or anything like that from her about them. (She does have a few other issues, like sensory processing disorder and maybe some general anxiety we are working to get to the bottom of -- but as a heart surgery patient at 6 months old some of these have been long-lead-time items.) It is just really nice to see how attentive and loving she is of her sisters.

So sometimes its not just a new baby...its babIES. And the process of keeping everyone happy and knowing they're loved is still the same.

Birth@37

This is a great blog! We are expecting baby #2 and my son is 8. At first, he was not thrilled, especially since it was a girl...he wanted a brother. But after reading articles similar to this, i have tried to prepare him for her arrival. He has already become a great helper and is very protective of mommy. We also gave him the choice of keeping his room and bed (which is a convertible crib) and re-decorating. He loved that because he felt like a big boy making his own decisions. Hopefully, the transition will continue to run smoothly.

Momofthree

What I found to rock my son's word way more than the arrival of my daughter was when she started walking - no one ever seems to talk about that as a big event in an older sibling's life. When the younger one can't move, he or she is cute and harmless. My son didn't mind her being around at all, he just did his own thing BUT when she could come over and knock down the tower he built, or destroy his train track, or take his things, THAT was a problem. And on top of all that, everyone is so excited for the new walker and is paying so much attention to them at that stage. So, parents of siblings, beware, getting the older child to accept the new one upon arrival is far from the end of it.

Chris Snell

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and ideas (picking rooms/decorating new rooms). I really appreciate it!

Corinne

Thank you so much for this article. We have a 5, almost 6, year old daughter. My husband and I have been on the fence about baby #2. Okay.. I have mainly. He has been wanting a second for about 3yrs. I am terrified about having another. Not only because I do not have great pregnancies, but I am scared how this will affect our family dynamic. Thank you for the tips on what to say to the older sibling.

melissa

Thanks so much for writing this. I too am expecting my second baby in February. I have many of the same concerns as you and your advice was so helpful. I reblogged on my blog Fit Fab Mommy

and commented: "I too like the author Chris have many concerns about how my daughter will react to the arrival of the new baby. I never want her to feel left our or that she isn’t getting enough attention. I want her to feel involved and loved. I am the youngest by seven years so I never had to go through the arrival of a new baby and my husband is the youngest as well. I know that I need to be sensitive to her needs. I am sad in a way because it has just been the three of us for so long, but I am so thankful and grateful that we have the opportunity to grow our family and I know that one day my girls will be best friends. In the meantime I will take it one day at a time and take Chris’s advice."

Chris Snell

Corinne and Melissa, thank you so much for the comments. I'm glad you found my article to be helpful!

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