Suffering from parental guilt. Again.

guilt, parental guilt, toddler, children

That’s me in the corner, guilt tripping myself again. Pic credit below.

Parenting can be full of awkward moments. For me, several awkward moments have come courtesy of Toddler Adams. I’ve totally underestimated her abilities a few times and it’s got me wondering how and why this has happened.

It’s little things she’s done that have left me stunned. Not just stunned, but wondering why I didn’t know she was capable of such things.

She’ll come out with a phrase demonstrating knowledge of English well beyond what you’d expect for her age. Either that or she’ll suddenly tell you in great detail everything that’s happened to her that day, including events you were entirely unaware of.

I think it’s partly down to her development. She’s almost three and has come on in leaps and bounds both physically and cognitively over recent months.

If I’m totally honest, ‘though, I think there’s an element of second child syndrome at play. When her older sister was a similar age, my wife and I would gawp and gasp in wonderment if she used a word like “actually” in the correct context or drew a recognisable flower.

It’s not that we’re any less impressed with Toddler Adams, simply that back then we only had the one child. Now we have two and no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to give as much attention to two children as you are able to give to one.

For those of you with more than two children, well, quite how you do it I’ll never know. I guess older siblings step in just as much as mum and dad?

Whatever the reason, it makes me feel guilty. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to feel guilty if our kids are; fed, watered, clothed, educated and, most importantly of all, loved.

I simply don’t want Toddler Adams to miss out on affection or attention that we were able to bestow on her older sister. Parental guilt seems to follow me everywhere. I’m coming to the conclusion it follows me everywhere.

What do you think? Is it more difficult to fully appreciate how quickly a second child develops? Do they simply develop more quickly because they have an older sibling to copy? Or maybe you think I should stop feeling so bad?

Pic credit: PDPics. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement.

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18 Comments

  1. September 17, 2015 / 12:37 pm

    Oh yes, I can very much relate to this! I felt it a fair bit with my second, but I am plagued constantly with full on mummy guilt now that I’ve got three. My 19mo baby is not a baby at all, and does things that amaze me every single day in the way you’ve described about Toddler Adams. It’s such a double edged sword, but I’m positive that it’s all good in the long run, and they will be more capable for being less pampered… that’s what I keep telling myself anyway 😉

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 23, 2015 / 11:33 am

      Truth is, your kids probably won’t even notice! And you’re right, they’ll probably be better off for it in the end.

  2. September 17, 2015 / 1:09 pm

    I have this but in reverse; our first and second were twins and they always had to share us as parents. I used to feel like I couldn’t give them all they needed then, but our baby no 3 gets me all to herself and I enjoy my time with her much more. I still end up with guilt now about the older ones, especially as they are at school and I find it hard to do their reading books and homework never mind just time to enjoy them:-(.

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 23, 2015 / 11:31 am

      Ah, yes, twins. That changes everything. A completely different set of rules.

  3. September 24, 2015 / 6:26 am

    Guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt…..do you think it has always been part of the fabric of parenting or is this something unique to the modern era? I wonder if we are being encouraged to see parenting as an accomplishment that can be done well or badly rather than as a relationship that exists within specific circumstances. No answers, just questions!

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 26, 2015 / 5:16 am

      Before family life became so child-centred I’m sure parental guilt was rarely felt r expressed by anyone. While we may all be a bit too sensitive to it, is it necessarily a bad thing? Does it not just show we care? No answers….just questions!!

  4. September 24, 2015 / 12:01 pm

    Uh oh I think I am up the creek without a paddle. Four kids and let me tell you the fourth does everything for himself – he cooks, cleans and looks after me emotionally. I get the guilt factor because I am living it. Good luck and my advice – don’t produce anymore. Mel xx #BrilliantBlogPosts

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 26, 2015 / 5:20 am

      Interesting a mum of one I know commented a while back on how my eldest daughter was happy to take herself off and change clothes without my help. I said she had to because my energies were often spent dealing with a toddler who needed more attention. This mum’s daughter, as an only child, was much more reliant on mum and dad. I’m not going down the route of the “should you only have one child” debate, but it is interesting that a child with (a) sibling(s) has greater independence.

  5. September 24, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    I think every parent suffers from this at ssome point.
    BB recently started full time school, so its really nice to spend a long amount of time with LB now but before I know it, he will be following in his brothers footsteps and i’ll feel guilty about something else. lol
    #BrilliantBlogPosts

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 26, 2015 / 5:24 am

      Oh yes Lewis, you’ll probably find yourself feeling guilty for serving the kids fish fingers two days on the trot or something! I jest, of course. Enjoy your time with LB, one on one time is so vital.

  6. September 24, 2015 / 8:50 pm

    I think we all feel guilty no matter what. I have two boys. My youngest is 2 and a half and when he was younger we spent alot of time ferrying my eldest to and from nursery etc. He was 8 months old before I finally managed to take him to a baby group!

    My hubby always reminds me though that they they do not know any different or realise what they might have missed out on. It’s just us being hard on ourselves #BrilliantBlogPosts

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 26, 2015 / 5:25 am

      True, we are being hard on ourselves and that’s simple because we care. I don’t think that’s a bad thing so long as the guilt is in check.

  7. September 25, 2015 / 8:01 pm

    Yep, I think you just need to accept that whether you are fab or follied as a mum or dad, parental guilt is there in our DNA and you have to just suck it up, hard though it is!!!! Great post!

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 26, 2015 / 5:34 am

      First rule of being a parent; you’re imperfect. Deal with it and don’t put yourself under such huge pressure. Easy to say but hard to put into practice.

  8. September 25, 2015 / 8:13 pm

    I think it’s a parent’s job to feel guilty! But I do think the second child is always really keen to keep up with their older sibling, so do some things quicker. Especially crawling, walking and scootering, in my experience! Becky #brilliantblogposts

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 26, 2015 / 5:35 am

      Oh yes, Toddler Adams has picked up various skills more quickly than her sister. She’s also fiercely independent, much more so than her older sibling.

  9. September 28, 2015 / 2:03 pm

    You’re not alone, John. It’s definitely tougher with a second and then a third (or subsequent) child. They never get quite as much attention and every achievement is never quite as wondrous as first time around. But equally younger siblings have an older brother/sister to role model themselves on and learn from, which a first child never has. So, swings and roundabouts. Doesn’t stop the guilt, though – I’m not sure that ever goes away.

    • John Adams
      Author
      September 30, 2015 / 5:47 am

      I’m going with the idea that some guilt is simply a sign that you care. As for siblings learning from each other, Toddler Adams is very, very verbal compared to her sister. Quite a surprise actually as Helen’s language skills have always been very strong.