Birth Order and Divorce, Part 3
An Ode to the Youngest of Your Brood
This series is about the points of view of children. It’s meant to tell you everything they won’t say aloud. Some might find all of this to be too forward, exclusive, or not inclusive enough of the adults in a given situation. Well, tough!
Open up to your kids and avoid making your sentences to them about you. Tell them what you think, of course, but remember to care about their responses. Fathers matter. A father musn’t be self absorbed. He must, however, be livened, awake, and willing to hear the good, bad, and awful from his youngins.
To you, it may be small and insignificant stuff they can and should get over. To them, it’s everything. If they can’t trust you to hear (what you may deem to be) the puny and mundane, they won’t come to you with the terrible and awful.
Don’t be afraid to be a phenomenal dad. Your offspring will thank you.
Birth Order: The Baby of Your Family
They are a family’s unsung heroes. The babies of a family live a relatively simple life full of love and wonder. Treasured by their older siblings (usually) and parents alike, they live in a world of pure, uninterrupted wonder. And, it ends up being their hamartia, doesn’t it? This forever young version of you will always believe, always love even the words that spring forth from your mouth. Unlike their older counterparts, youngins give without taking. Why? Because everything has (and always will be) given to them.
Grown youngest children tend to feel the pressure on them more than their siblings. Parents tend to see their lives as a lifetime-long learning experience. If children feel there is too much pressure on them, they’re likely to develop self-esteem issues and self-doubt. Overcoming these could prove to be a real obstacle in the way of their long term success.
The hand me downs keep on handing down. If the middles have a hand-me-down problem, the youngins have a hand-me-down catastrophe. By the time they receive the item, it’s usually on its last leg.
The problem with this is they don’t tend to own much as children. Everything that’s theirs was once someone else’s. Boundaries become a problem because they see their older sibling’s belongings as being theirs anyway.
They too tend to be the overachievers. Like the oldest child, they move forward in life fueled by ambition with something to prove. Interesting enough, they require lots of figurative hand-holding and continued motivation for them to reach aspirations.
With parents willing to push them and expect more of them, they’ll get where they want to be. But it takes motivating factors and lots of reinforcement.
They tend to give up easily and may seem unfocused. One day, your youngest may come to you seemingly sure about pursuing a career in engineering. Months or years may pass before they realize it’s not really what they want to do with their lives unlike the oldest child who is more likely to continue down the path they set out on despite challenges.
My Own Baby
While I was away at Texas A&M, she told her Dad (who’s now my Ex) that she knew I was away at school so I could become a doctor – so that I could take care of her. Just two years old and she got it. She understood my life’s purpose at the time.
That’s who she is, though. Now a bright, beautiful six-year-old, she remembers a lot considering she was only three at the time all my medical issues became apparent.
She’s been the most forgiving of her life’s changes. Altogether, she’s been the most accepting of her changing world around her. My youngin’ remembers what life was like when we were all a family, and she asks questions all the time.
The most affectionate of my children, she requires lots of love and reassurance.
Her relationship with her father has suffered the least of anyone else’s. She loves to please and is the most likely to go with the flow. Her dad and her have a short-hand even still. She goes to him without a problem, and he’s more likely to listen.
Playing the baby card is her thing. Like me, she hates chores and is the least likely to sign up for additional household assignments. Most of the time, she gets her older siblings to do things for her she’d rather not do. One time, I saw them tying her shoes for her, a task she’s been proficient at since she was three. It’s like she needs to feel like she’s the baby.
Lately, when her older siblings tease her, she doesn’t respond with her own snappy comeback. Instead, she lets it ride. I can see that it hurts her, and I once asked her to tell me why she didn’t dish out the same crap she was receiving. She said she didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
On the flip side, however, when the older ones want something they think I’ll say no to, she’s the one they send in. The reason? They think I think she’s the cute one and I’ll cave for her.
I’ve opened up my life for one reason: We were all children once. I hope that in learning about what my seven little ones have survived, you’ll be envouraged to discuss the uncomfortable situation you may be in with your own minions.
Take into account their age and understanding of the situation. Don’t complicate or simplify a situation that may not need to be made bigger or that you’d rather not talk about. Youngest children are likely to figure you out anyway, so please be honest.
Seek family counseling. I promise you, it’ll change the way you look at your own life. Above all, it’ll help guide you down the journey you’re on.
Healing is a process. Repairing the damage left in the aftermath of divorce isn’t supposed to be easy. The undertaking will change the way you view the world. It’ll do the same for your little one.
Everything from the split, to the kids’ issues, to visitation, to the final, grand divorce, it all feels like varying levels of crap being flung in your direction with a bazooka. I know, I’ve been there. Embrace the best days of your life. Urge your babes to do the same. Remind them that you’re going through it with them. It’ll bond you closer together.
Of all your kids, your youngest will require the most attention, especially when he or she feels like their older siblings are turning on them in their own grief. You need to be their refuge. If they don’t have you, they’ll turn to other people. Trust me, you want your kids to turn to you.
- This article was written by Teresa Virani, Co-Founder of coparently – a scheduling and communication tool for divorced and separated parents to organize & manage shared custody. Adjusting to co-parenting after divorce or separation is often a huge transition for dads. And when you haven’t been the primary caregiver before,…