Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Self Esteem & Siblings
I think it was before we'd started "trying" for our second son that I'd read "warnings" in my pregnancy and baby books: They instructed me to consider carefully the prospect of giving my baby a sibling too soon--or at all. My immediate thought was "How ridiculous!" (Now, before I continue, I in no way want to offend anyone who has been unable to give a child siblings; that's far from my point.)
Now, I do believe in nurturing my child's self esteem, mind you. I praise him for good behavior and achievements, including putting away his toys, showing me the "all done" sign, or even getting up from a minor fall without a tear--or in hopes of no tears! (Yes, we're crazy like that. Our kid falls down and we shout "yea!" and clap. But guess what?! He usually gets up clapping, too, instead of crying, so it's totally worthwhile!) I want him to know I love him and will hug and kiss him and hold him often. And when he's hurt or sick, I'll drop everything to care for him. (Clarification: I won't literally drop Josh! I will, however, sometimes let him fuss a bit while I prioritize Caleb.) I believe giving him that kind of security is truly foundational.
That said, the words of warning that I read and promptly dismissed as silly, have cropped into my my thinking many times in the past year. Yes, year. Before Josh was even born, he was crowding Caleb out of my lap space and taking some of Mommy's energy. I've thought that in some ways, having them so close together robbed Caleb of some of his own "babyhood."
Well, that idea is quickly giving way to a new perspective on my little man. I watch with wonder as he brings his brother his favorite toys or brings his pacifier to him when he cries. He lets me know when Josh has something "not for Josh" (a phrase I try to use instead of "no"). In his own little way, he shows loves his brother, even now. He seems to truly understand when mommy can't hold him right now, because she's feeding Josh. Increasingly, he's learning to "man up" to his new(ish) role, and his dad and I are, well, impressed. (Okay, we're proud.) His seemingly premature status as a big brother is giving him a chance to develop a side of him that other 25-month-olds might not have quite yet.
Here's where I guess I'm different from the typical cheerleaders of self esteem: I believe that Caleb's learning to esteem others and their needs above his own is even more important than his having his desires met. It's beautiful, really, and it's preparing him for real life and caring about others. Couldn't this world use a few more people like that in it?
Warning, schwarning, I say! Do you agree? I'd love to read your thoughts.
reminding you that the days may be long, but the years are oh-so-short!
(For some reason, my server wouldn't let me post last night, but it was done by 11:55!)