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August 3, 2010

Why My Son Isn't Special...

...and is SO special at the same time.

Sandra and I have been making a conscience effort to make our older son Braeden feel special.  After a particularly rough day with him this past week, I was actually brought to tears out of frustration on a number of different levels.  The one that hit me the most is that for Braeden, there is nothing that pops out as inherently special.

I don't want that to come across as mean as it sounds.  He is very special and there is a lot special about him, but he is also a middle child.

He doesn't get the benefit of being the first or oldest.

Emerson is the one who is super self motivated to learn, and everyone tells her how smart she is.

She also constantly hears how cute she is.

Landen gets the benefits of being the baby and all the excitement that comes along with learning "new" stuff.

He hears how cute he is too...a lot!

Then right in the middle, you have a child who wants to feel special too.  That is what hit me the hardest.  Am I doing enough to show him how special he is to me?  Am I getting enough quality time with him so he knows I love him?  Does he get praised enough for the things he does right, or only punished when he does something wrong?  I never felt this struggle when he was little and there were only the two kids.  In general, you spend time with one, then you spend time with the just naturally sort of balance out most of those things.

When the third came along, once again you doubt that you'll be able to have enough love to share with them, but you're definitely proven wrong.  Then the reality of time hits you like a ton of bricks.  If I get home from work at 445-515, I generally have about two or two and a half hours to spend with the kids.  Within that time, you have to balance quality time along with dinner and bath times.  That isn't much time to ensure that all your kids are feeling the love, and I only get one shot at this Dad thing with each of my kids.  Any of you out there felt this shift when you hit your third (or more) child?  What advice can you give?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


shellycoulter said...

I'm home all day with Eli & Sim...but between breakfast, morning nap, lunch, getting dressed, doing more dishes, trying to play games with Eli, and teach & read to Simeon, naptime for both, planning dinner, starting dinner,attempting to pick up the messy house, realizing I have no clean clothes, etc...I feel the same way many days. With Eli I constantly had time to devote to him when he was Sim's age. I didn't have to have dinner on the table by 5 or a needy 3 year old on my feet.

I love that you & Sandra are recognizing Braeden's needs & being intentional about making him feel special. Emerson is incredibly smart & creative. Landen is incredibly cute and funny! AND Braeden is incredible too! He has a huge adventurous heart & a passion to run & play. I believe he is a natural leader who will grow up to be a man full of perseverance & determination & that will be channeled into amazing ways to impact the world around him. (even if that perseverance right now can be will be a beautiful gift once molded & trained by you guys)

You & Sandra are beautiful parents & I love you both & all 3 of your incredible kiddos.

Scott said...

Braeden's going to be okay, Jon. Middle kids are ... different. Jackson, our middle, is nothing like our other two. Aggressive yet loving. Friendly yet defiant. Outgoing yet shy. He can be incredibly frustrating but has such a disarming smile he could rob a bank with it.

Amy and I are both middle kids and understand this, though I'm sure it won't excuse us from going through the same frustrations our, er, my parents experienced.

One thing MKs learn is to carve out their own identity. Like you said, we're not the baby and not the oldest. At times that's beneficial because you can blend in somewhat and get away with more ... (Wait, I'm not helping). From what I heard, MKs can have the bigger personality (that can come across as defiant, stubborn, hyper, etc) just for this reason. You'll both be okay.

Solana said...

So I'm a little behind on your blog. But I was reading this post and completely sympathize. Our middle child Dakota is much the same way. It was really simple when we only had Mav and Dakota. And Dakota was very kind and loving. Since we had Grace and Dakota is in the middle it's been really difficult to balance the attention. And Dakota notices. She is the middle child, but also our first born daughter. So she plays a dual role, just like Braeden. They do have to define themselves within the family and it's really great that you and Sandra already notice that need. We experience the defiance with Dakota too. I think it's partly age as well as birth order. So anyways, you're not alone and Braeden is completely normal. Just try to catch him doing things right and help him define himself by a uniqueness he holds rather than getting into trouble. That is my battle here too. I'll be praying for you guys. The fact that you notice means he'll get through it feeling loved and special.