Hmmm…this is kind of a dilemma, isn’t? How do you tell your firstborn, who is the sole recipient of your parental love and affection, that you will also love someone else really soon? If you look at it from a certain angle, I think it somewhat fits the definition of cheating – and that can hurt real bad.
So how does a parent explain?
I had this problem years ago. I was ready for another baby. My husband was, too. Actually, we’ve been emotionally locked in on having another child. But our firstborn wasn’t. He was only three at that time, so the concept of a little human being was – how should I say it? – weird.
The transition would’ve been much easier if he was in his tweens, at the very least. I could have easily explained the concept the way most things are explained at this day and age: Google it, kid. Just Google it.
Easy. Simple. Fast. 100% headache-free.
But the thing is, explaining to your child that he or she is going to have a sibling doesn’t end there. Of course, you want them to have a bond that will be a foundation for the future sibling revelry.
Thanks to DNA, siblings are genetically programmed to love each other, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Ah, but then there’s jealousy, attention-seeking behavior, and competition. All natural human traits that are exaggerated by a new baby’s arrival.
Here are the strategies we used when we introduced the idea of a sibling to our firstborn:
We kept him in the loop all the time – from doctor visits to buying things for the new baby. We wanted him to get excited over the idea that he was going to have a brother soon.
We also showed and told him that he would be loved exactly the same, even with the arrival of the baby, but we cautioned him that there would be times when our attention would be focused more on the baby than on him, simply because babies can’t do anything by themselves.
There were times when we would visit our friends who have babies just to show him how small and fragile they are…and cute, too!
With all the hype that we’d created, our eldest was so excited about having a new sibling that he demanded that he take care of the baby as well. We allowed him to do everything he was capable of.
If the baby needed a nappy change, I would ask him to bring me a fresh one, or hand me the tube of nappy cream. I would also ask him to gently massage the baby’s back while I was holding him to burp him. He was so proud that he was able to help like this.
Little things like that made him feel so important, and that was really our goal. It’s so much easier to introduce a second child to the first one when the first is already confident about where he stands.
There were still a couple of headache-inducing episodes, of course. But those are topped by the good ones.
About the author: Len D.C. is an RN by chance, a web content specialist by choice, and a mother by fate.