Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Second Child Syndrome

Banish that second child guilt!Banish that second child guilt!When I had my first two children eighteen months apart, I was wracked with guilt over the lack of attention my second baby received compared to the first. The first time around, I did it all: the weekly pictures, the hand-prints, stories every night and cuddle time each morning. Now, I juggle sippies and bottles and respond to round-the-clock needs of a baby and a toddler. The minute I finish changing one, the other needs a bath or a snack.

My second child has received a completely different sort of parenting than my first. It's a hard thing to admit, that I'm not "fair." Slowly, though, I've come to realize it's okay that my second doesn't have my full attention all the time. I think it's better for him in the long run.

The second child may not have all those special moments with mom and dad, but he has something better. A sibling. A family. I've been amazed at the interaction between my oldest and my youngest, and while a big brother's antics are certainly no replacement for a mother's enduring patience, we strike a graceful balance together.

Related: 9 ways to prepare your child for a sibling

Sometimes I feel a pang of guilt over the lack of physical attention towards my second, and I'll look up to see his brother giving him a gentle forehead kiss. I worry that I'm not teaching him enough, and then I see the toddler gesturing towards a book and showing off his letter skills. "A, B, C." They learn together now, and that smart little baby keeps up. Children are incredibly adaptive, and it's amazing to see how the second piggybacks on all the time and attention that the first one received. It's almost as if I was teaching them both before he even arrived.

Parenting is different the second time around, and it's something to be celebrated. In place of the one-on-one time and the quiet moments, we have laughter and togetherness. I'm sure it'll be an ongoing transformation as I watch these kids grow, and an ongoing effort to assure myself that I'm doing a good job. I know with two, we may be shorter on resources to do all the extracurriculars and send each kid to camp. But we'll have one heck of a boisterous, joyful home.

And that, I will never feel guilty about. -By Chelsea Day

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