August 30, 2007

One Versus Two

When my dad was a kid, he and his family would take road trips. They'd pack a camper - one of those short, squat things you'd haul behind your car that would open up into a combination bedroom, living room and kitchen when they'd reached wherever it was they were stopping for the day - and drive across the country. On one of those drives, my dad was taunting his sister in the backseat. My grandfather reached over the seat and plucked my dad's teddy bear from his arms, opened the window, and tossed it out into the hot Arizona desert. And refused to go back for it. Now, by all accounts, my grandfather wasn't the warmest guy. But it sure shut my dad up.

I don't have any stories like that, primarily due to two facts - my dad's a nicer guy than his father and I'm an only child.

When Beth and I realized we were pregnant for the second time, I had a hard time understanding where some of my unease was coming from. Some of it's the natural holy shit I'm going to be responsible for another human life thing but another part of it, I realized eventually, was the fact that I didn't have a good frame of reference for the experience that Mia is going to have. I never had a big brother to beat the crap out of me or a little sister to argue with. The thought of having a sibling is totally alien to me. Much like the experience of being an only child is probably completely foreign to Beth who had a little brother to torment.

So I ask you - do you have siblings or are you and only child? And how did that influence the way you grew up? And, finally, what kind of advice do you have for an only child dad of two kids?

Posted by Chris at August 30, 2007 6:46 AM

I was the middle of two brothers. I wanted my children to experience all of what I did and so always wanted three. I think my kids are less selfish because it is not "all about that one kid". Plus, those stories of beatin' the hell out of each other? Great for parties and job interviews.

Posted by: Debbie at August 30, 2007 7:20 AM

I'm an only child of, tataattaaaaaa, two only children. Needless to say my family is extremely small. (my grandparents, my parents, me and some far far far other related ones that we hardly ever see, though we do have a good connection to them)

How that affected me? Good question... Yes, it is "all about that one kid", which can be beneficial but it can also be very stifling. It sometimes feels like I have four people on my back constantly checking how and what I am doing and worrying like hell. At those moments i wished I had a sibling that would take the attention away from me. As I would like to have one when we run into a generation/environment conflict. It would be nice to have someone on your side who has the same generational experience.

On the other hand, they always have time and attention for me. Which is great, but as a consequence I do find it harder to function in groups. I am not used to fight for attention, so how to be heard when all are shouting for attention is a skill in progress.

Some (at that time new) friends of mine were once having a discussion about how they felt only children were selfish, egocentric and asocial. When I mentioned I was one, their remark was that they would not have recognised me as one.

Reading back this comment I realise that I always get defensive when people talk about it. Especially now because of Debbie's comment. I know my parents had the same experience in that. They were constantly worrying that others would think they were spoiling me with the effect that they were more strict than other parents.

This all sounds so negative now, but to be honest, I'm happy with the situation as it is. I see families where siblings make life very complicated for each other and ones where things work out great. It is no use wondering about what could have been and I am very blessed to have a wonderful family.

Lots of thoughts going through my head now. You actually gave me some blog inspiration. :-) Coming up soon: a post with structured ideas.

Posted by: mikkie at August 30, 2007 7:48 AM

I have one younger brother. My husband IS a younger brother. We have two boys. So basically, I can't help on the only child angle. I can help - a bit - on having two kids. First thing to know is: they WILL fight. Almost constantly. Over everything and nothing (eg "he spat his toothpaste out before me!" "he's looking at my lego!") It's normal. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to figure out who's fault the fight is. You will almost never manage it. Just be like the UN. Express the view that fighting is not good, sigh in a concerned manner when fights break out and only intervene if armageddon threatens, and then only to separate the warring parties, not to apportion blame. The kids will be friends again long before you get over the fight! The only other rule I would recommend - particularly if your kids are the same sex - is that toys are shared. You will go spectacularly insane if you have to keep track of who owns what piece of coloured plastic. Our rule is: on the day a new toy is acquired, it is the sole property of the recipient who can be as despotic as he likes about who gets to play with it/look at it/breathe on it. After the first day, it is shared and whoever picks it up first, plays with it. No grabbing, no fighting. I'm sure there's more but it's never a good sign when the comment gets to be longer than the post so I'll stop!

Posted by: Lynda at August 30, 2007 7:54 AM

Hey man Congrats.

I have 7 brothers and 1 sister. Almost Too much influence.

Posted by: William at August 30, 2007 8:03 AM

I totally agree with Lynda up there about how to parent 2 :-) She took the words right out of my mouth.

I am the oldest of 3, and the only girl. DH is the oldest of 2. So we have no frame of reference on the only child thing. I can tell you there were times when I was growing up that I desperately wished I was an only child. As I got older I realized that because there were 2 more, there wasn't as much time/money/stuff to go around. Don't get me wrong, there was always plenty, but in my kid mind it seemed like I'd have SO MUCH MORE if I were alone. But now that we're grown, I wouldn't trade my brothers for anything. Not anything. We are friends as well as family. I just hope my boys are friends when they grow up, too.

Posted by: Alissa at August 30, 2007 8:04 AM

I am an only child. My husband has one younger sister, and at 35 and 31, they still argue often. They're such different people that I sometimes have a hard time believing that they're siblings.

My best friend since I was 3 is also an only child and I think of her as a sister, but I know it's nothing like the real thing. Our parents would keep us apart for weeks if we fought when we were young.

The most difficult question I've had posed is, "Wow, what's it like to be an only child? Don't you get lonley?" I've never known what it was like NOT to be an only child. Yes, I got a lot of attention. On the flip side, I did have a lot of time to myself to read, let my imagination run wild, and (I think most importantly) a strong desire to make and hold on to friends. It also meant a lot more adult interaction for me at a young age. If my friends would have their friends over for dinner, I wasn't sent to the "kids" table to eat alone.

We're not parents yet, but I imagine we'll have 2 someday and I may come back to you for some guidance. :) Good luck!

Posted by: sarah at August 30, 2007 8:25 AM


Totally recognize that:

- strong desire to make and hold onto friends
- much more adult interaction

Posted by: mikkie at August 30, 2007 8:37 AM

I have two younger brothers. I can't imagine having grown up without them - we didn't have to be hanging around with each other all day every day if we didn't want to, but more often than not, we did.

In a good household, having siblings is like having a built-in best friend. Sure you'll fight and bicker and get in tussles, but at the end of the day, they're the ones you want to spend time with.

Posted by: Ross at August 30, 2007 8:39 AM

I was the youngest of 2 but my sister is only 16 months older than me. She was also smaller than I was and much more shy and timid. I would have to "protect" her in school, etc and I was so resentful that my older sister couldn't take care of me like was supposed to happen (in my mind). Unfortunately we aren't really all that close now.

I have an only child and she liked being an only child for the most part.

So I have no advice for a dad of two kids. Sorry.

Posted by: daisy at August 30, 2007 8:40 AM

I have an older brother. We are 21 months apart, but ever since third grade we were only one grade apart. I do think that by socializing with a lot of the same people, I became much more comfortable having guy friends than girl friends. Plus it toughened me up and made me a bit of a tomboy, which I consider a good thing.

Posted by: Amy at August 30, 2007 8:45 AM

I'm the only girl between two brothers, so like others, can't help with the only child thing. I have two children - the older boy and younger girl.
And yeah, the fight. ALL. THE. TIME. About the dumbest things ever - whoever said that above is so right.
My rules for two are pretty simple - if one hurts the other, he/she gets in trouble. If the first one provoked the other or is dumb enough to retaliate, they BOTH get in trouble. If they are fighting over a toy, what tv show to watch, etc. they get one warning that they need to compromise. If they can't figure it out themselves, I simply remove said object or turn the tv off.
That's about it in a nutshell.
Other than that - just be prepared for there to be toys EVERYWHERE - worse than you could've ever imagined.

Posted by: Traci at August 30, 2007 8:48 AM

I am the oldest of 5 biological sis, one step, and two half sisters. I remember being an only child and I loved it. I resented my sister for many years when she was born, but I ALWAYS loved, ALWAYS protected, and ALWAYS felt more "me" when she was around. As an adult, there is nobody in the world that knows me like she does and I'd do ANYTHING FOR HER...and ALMOST anything for my other sisters. I sometimes tell people that I have been a "mommy" since I was 5 yrs old...which made things interesting when I had my first daughter. I'm also pg with #2, so no advice on parenting 2 from me, but I will say I cried like a baby when I found out we're having another girl and DD would have a little sister. I find great solice in knowing that she will have someone to talk to about her "crazy" mother when she gets to be my age.

Posted by: CJ at August 30, 2007 8:55 AM

I am an only child. It has been great and bad at times. I have no idea how your parents are but my mom in particular can be very possessive of her little girl (though I am an adult). At times, I wish I had a sister or a brother to hang out with, be with, and just someone to share my things with other than a friend. When I was growing up, I wanted a sister or a brother whenever I got into trouble so I could blame him or her for it. :-)

As ar as advice, I really do not know. I guess that there is not a manual out there for this kind of experience, but I am sure you and Beth will be fine. Just take a look at Mia and you will know.

Congrats on the new baby!

Posted by: Katherine at August 30, 2007 9:11 AM

I'm the oldest of four girls. My mother was left a young widow with two of us. I was 4 years old and my sister was a just 3-4 months old. My childhood wasn't a picnic and I learned responsibility at a young age. All of this massively shaped my life and probably helped make me the caring, giving woman that I am today.

There are 11 years between myself and the youngest child. I love my sisters dearly, but things were always crazy. Sisters were always fighting and someone was always hitting someone else.

I feel there is a big difference between 2 and 4. She will likely be jealous of the baby and this is normal and to be expected. As she's used to all your attention and not having to share. Adjustments will have to be made and special time just for her should be planned on to ease any adjustment period.

For the record, I think you two are going to be great. Can't help with the two thing as we're still an only child family. Though, our boy keeps reminding us that we did say that we might adopt someday.

Posted by: Diane at August 30, 2007 9:28 AM

Please tell me that eventually your dad got the teddy bear back...

Posted by: shannon at August 30, 2007 9:37 AM

I have one younger brother who is 7.5 years younger. In many ways, I think we were sort of raised as two only children... I got several good quality only child years with my parents, by the time he came around I was old enough not to need constant attention and supervision so my parents were able to give him all the attention he needed without having to worry about me every second, and I was out of the house when he was 10 so he had my parents alone for almost 8 years.

I think the bonuses of the big age difference is that there wasn't any sibling rivalry or competitiveness, our parents never really compared us to each other, and we each got lots of individual attention. The minuses were that we never had the opportunity to become friends, rather than just siblings. He's now in college here in DC so I get to see him more and we finally get to hang out with each other as adults, but I don't think it's really the same as growing up together. My mom and her sister are just three years apart and are best friends and I always kinda wished I had a sibling closer in age so I could have that too.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 30, 2007 9:43 AM

I am the youngest of three girls. My husband is third of four. We can't imagine only having one kid in the house.

I don't skip through meadows holding hands with my sisters, but being without them is inconceivable. Here's the thing about siblings: they know your entire backstory. That's incredibly comforting in a time where our oldest friendships tend to just go a few years back. My sisters are one of the few absolute constants in my life.

As for advice, I'd say just recognize a few things: the new baby will be totally different than Mia. They will fight; it's good for them. They will plot against you; that's part of the fun. And underneath the stupid fights and the bickering, they will be incredibly attached to each other.

And if they aren't, you can pick your favorite and hire the other one out as farm labor.

Posted by: Alias Mother at August 30, 2007 9:48 AM

Me and my sister were best friends and best playmates until we were teens. It was a great childhood and I don't have any memories of teddy bears out the window. Sure, we had to be separated a couple of times, but that seriously lasts a couple of minutes.

I've got two little ones now and they are great playmates. Yes, there's tugging and saying "mine!", but it's a good lesson for both of them. We share, we take turns, we see a lot of sweet moment.s

Posted by: Brad at August 30, 2007 9:53 AM

I'm an only child, happy about it, and I'm pretty sure we're only having one child. I'm not sure I would know how to function with more than one.

Posted by: Shelly at August 30, 2007 9:55 AM

I am an only child. It was a good experience for me. I wouldn't change it for anything. My mother and I are beyond close and I think I turned out to be a pretty cool person (Holy only child ego!! :)

I now have two boys and it is a good experience for them. They are 2 years apart and have always been very very close.

I don't have any advice for you except for this: When you think you need to step in and break it up, count to 10 and think again. As an only child, I don't understand the fighting and the bickering but I learned quickly that it is best to let them hash it out themselves most of the time. It's just part of the dynamic. They love each other fiercely and that plays out in all kinds of ways.

I have been completely dumbfounded over and over again at their ability to fight like mad all day and then curl up together like puppies to sleep at night. They each have their own room with their own beds and they still like to sleep together. Up until the past couple of months they have been completely lost without each other when one was gone for too long. They are both independent, strong willed, and incredibly different, but they are so very close. My oldest is finally getting to the age where he wants more space from his brother. I've been watching the growing pains between them in nervous anticipation of when they decide they want more space from me.

So again, no real helpful advice. I just hope that you enjoy watch them in the good and the "bad." It has been one of the most amazing things for me to see. I don't fully understand it but I am awed by it.

Posted by: Kim at August 30, 2007 9:58 AM

Well... I was an only child, but also had a very dysfunctional childhood, so take it as you will. My husband has tagged me with having OCS (only child syndrome) in that I don't like to share very much. True. However, on the plus side I don't get lonely and am really never bored. I learned to entertain myself and if anything have too many interests.

Now, on the flip side - I had four children. My husband having been the eldest of three kids (a sis and a bro) he was the expert in the family when it came to family dynamics. He was the one who, when the boys were fighting (we have two girls, two boys) would tell me "calm down, they really aren't going to kill each other"... as I was going into panic mode. Amazingly enough, they did grow out of it and are now the best of friends as adults! Go figure. Lynda had good advice. Listen to the woman. Oh, and breathe.

Posted by: sue at August 30, 2007 10:03 AM

i am the MIDDLE child.
2 older sibs
2 younger.
here's my one piece of advice just from having 2 of my own children, sometimes you just gotta let them work it out without sticking your nose in.

Posted by: Pamalamadingdong at August 30, 2007 10:15 AM

i currently have 8 siblings. only two of these are full-on, blood-related siblings... (my mom likes to get married. then divorced. then re-married.) so as a person with a lot of siblings, i can tell you that the best thing our parents ever did to help us co-habitate, is have special days with all, and then separate special days with each kid, one-on-one. two kids is not the same as nine, but keeping up with what's going on in their lives is just as tough (and important).

Posted by: b. at August 30, 2007 10:27 AM

TOTALLY an only child and loved every single minute of it... so much so that I think as of right now... that I wouldn't mind having an only child someday too... my husband is the middle of 3 boys and is on the fence about having only one.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 30, 2007 10:33 AM

Oldest child, one brother. Husband is oldest child, one sister, one 1/2 sister.

We wanted The Swimmy to have someone "to go through life with", but, as always, there is no guarantee they will end up being close.

In the meantime, there are good lessons on sharing - toys, spotlight, etc... And really cute pictures to be taken. :)

Take heart in the fact that #2 is easier than the first -- nothing is a surprise any more...except the realization that you actually can love two as much as you loved one.

Posted by: Pammer at August 30, 2007 10:35 AM

Just remember that you have enough love to give to each child and you will be fine. Also, I have 2 brothers and 4 sisters, but have only had 2 myself and have realized that you do have to really choose your battles; i.e., when to get involved and help them sort through things and when to step back and let them deal with the issues themselves.

Posted by: JenniferB at August 30, 2007 10:36 AM

OH, and p.s. myself and my man are both the oldest of our siblings (my 8 sibs, and his one brother) and our parents put a lot of the child-rearing up to us. it ruined a lot of our childhoods. please don't do that to mia. not that you would. :)

Posted by: b. at August 30, 2007 10:37 AM

I am the youngest of 3. Not being a parent, I can't offer advice on how to handle two kids, but having siblings? I can tell you the following:

1. The oldest will laud it over the others that she's the oldest.
2. The youngest will counteract that by being insanely perky.
3. The oldest will be the first to do everything and it will seem hard for her. (Incidentally, this is pretty rough on the parents, too.)
4. The youngest, seeing what the older did wrong, won't do those things and therefore will have an "easier" time of it.
5. The older will never let the younger live down that she "had it easy."
6. The younger will always roll her eyes and respond, "Well if you weren't DOING the things Dad accused you of, then you wouldn't have been grounded ALL OF THE GOSH DARN TIME."
7. The older will glare.
8. The younger will glare back.
9. And this will NEVER STOP. Even when everyone's in their 30s and childhood was far, far away.
10. And if you have three kids? Be warned: the middle child will be quiet and stay out of the way, but he'll be doing LOTS of bads things... they're just under your radar because the oldest and youngest are being unruly. You'll find out when he's older that he was actually the worst of them all.

Just brace yourself and accept that sibling rivalry is a fact of life. But on the upside? I have a brother and sister that give me hugs and noogies, keep me in line but applaud my quirkiness, and who will always look out for me even after our parents are gone. I LOVE having siblings. I can't imagine life without them.

Posted by: GreenCanary at August 30, 2007 10:41 AM

By definition, I have an older bro and sister but they are almost 10 yrs and 6 yrs older then me. SO I always felt like an only child. I am painfully conscious of the fact that we are waiting a full three and a half years between kids. I want my son to have the relationship I totally did/do not have with my sibs. BUT on the other hand, I also think my parents played a big part in this. If sibs are close generally the families are close as well (or there is some circumstances that brings everyone together.) I am sad I had/have virtually zero relationship with my sibs but on the other hand I benefited from being a pseudo only child. I learned from their mistakes and did the opposite which generally just meant that I learned to get away with a lot of crap! My sibs were NOT angels!

On the other hand, my husband and his sister are 16 months apart! OMG. And they are polar opposites and have a minimal relationship. They talk occasionally and get along but definitely do not see eye to eye and frankly his sister is a a bit of a B-word. My husband is a very nice person on the other hand. They were raised very closely but it just did not convert once they got to be teens and older. She was always the "smart" one and he was the athlete. I think in some ways his parents assisted them in growing apart by making these distinctions between the two.

My advice - no matter what the age difference is between your kids DO NOT EVER EVER play favorites. Foster their passions but also keep everyone together in a loving fashion. Work through issues when they happen between the two and be aware of feelings that are going on between the two b/c as a parent you can help. Try to keep all things as fair as possible (similar priced gifts) and do not say 'oh your sister is smart and you are the athlete' because my husband sort of believes he is not that smart and he really quite intelligent.

Posted by: Christina at August 30, 2007 10:47 AM

I have one brother who's a year and four days younger than me. My mom's an only as is my MIL.
We wanted two kids but it didn't work out so Lilli's an only. We try not to spoil her but hopefully aren't overly strict.

Mia's younger brother/sister will probably hear throughout his/her school years "Oh, you're Mia's sib! I just loved having her in my class." And then, he/she will really dislike Mia. ;-) Or, Mia will be really bad and the teacher will think younger sib is going to be just like Mia and will suffer. My brother went through the first scenario, obviously.

One tactic my mom used on us when we were fighting was to say "Why don't you two just duke it out?" It always shocked us that she was encouraging us to hit each other and we'd stop fighting.

Posted by: Kelley at August 30, 2007 10:58 AM

I am the oldest of 4 girls. My mother upon being asked for the hundredth time if one of our friends could stay the night she'd answer with...what's one more kid. I think having sibling is great, you always have a playmate and someone to tortue too. On the other hand, I always wanted to be an only child becuase my sister were always into my things and in general pissed me off. My son is an only child, when we suggested adopting a baby a couple ( my mate got snipped 18 years after the birth of his daughter) of years ago he nixed that idea--he likes being alone.

I will say that two is diffrent than one, but three isn't. If you have one more it will even things out.

Posted by: Michele at August 30, 2007 11:28 AM

I am the middle child (older sister, younger brother) and so is Hubby (one older brother, one younger). So, neither of us has any "only child" experience, and he doesn't even have any "baby of the family" reference, since my BIL was born when Hubby was 11 months old. We have three kids of our own, and I echo all of the comments about trying to let them solve their own fights (separate them when needed, but don't try to be the judge of who was right and who was wrong.)

My sister is two and a half years older than I am, and we did not get along well at all growing up. I resented that teachers compared me to her ("Oh, I remember how well Nic always did in my class. She is just so smart!") and I hated that I sometimes didn't get to do things I wanted to (e.g., get my ears pierced) because I had to wait until I was as old as she had been when she was allowed to- I guess my parents were trying to prevent the "I'm older than Karen, how come she's getting to do the same things I'm doing?" thing. She thought I was a pest and a tagalong. One of her friends asked me out in high school, and she nearly had an stroke. Then, she went to college, and we started to get along. Now she's one of my best friends. Not living together does wonders for us. My brother is five years younger, and I was not close to him, but now when we get together, we have an awesome relationship and really seem to understand each other.

Posted by: MamaKaren at August 30, 2007 11:30 AM

I've got a younger sister, and I can honestly say she's one of my closest friends. She's three years younger than me and man, I can tell you that GreenCanary's comment is pretty much spot on for duos as well as trios, as is Kelley's.

We're both pretty independent, but while I sort of hoed my own path, she set out to overachieve it. While I sort of survived high school and lived for practicing my clarinet, she was the valedictorian and honors scholar but was really bitter about not being a better flute player, so became the drum major. See how that works?

And let me tell you, it doesn't just extend to measurable "achievements". Whether you like it or not, everything is sort of a competition, even though that isn't a bad thing. She even gets snarky that my boobs are bigger than hers, and it drives me nuts that she's skinny. We look pretty radically different-- she's the image of my Dad's mom while I look exactly like the women in my mom's family.

All that being said, I can't imagine not having her around. She's my number-one to depend on in a crisis. I know that even though she doesn't live here, I can call her up and she'll be there for me. Sometimes I don't even have to call her, she just knows and calls me first.

As for being a parent of two, I can't speak from my own experience, but the whole "no favorites" thing is really important as a kid, just so long as you realize as a parent that you can't ever make everything equal and they'll always think the other one got the better deal. It's just part of the experience, and like everybody's already said, let them fight out their problems on their own unless something goes really wrong. It's good for them, and I CAN tell you from experience that it works.

Posted by: Sassy at August 30, 2007 11:35 AM

Lots of good comments in here, and I only read through the first ten or so.

I am the youngest of two brothers. I now have two daughters (4.5 and 2.25). Whoever pointed out that the two siblings will fight over stuff that does not make any sense to you was correct. My two can argue and scream over the smallest of items, but normally within 5 minutes they are back to playing together and having fun. The hardest part of that is not letting it get to you and Beth. My girls get over things a lot faster than I would expect, and my wife has a hard time understanding how they do that even though she has an older brother as well.

The really good thing about having two is that they will occupy each other's time when the youngest is about 18 months. Ours will go downstairs and play together which gives my wife and I time away from them for a few minutes.

Posted by: Rex at August 30, 2007 11:39 AM

I'm the youngest of four: girl, boy, boy, girl.

I'm glad to have grown up in my family; I wanted at least three kids because I would look at my friends who only had one sibling and think it was sad.

Well, life only gave me two, for which I am grateful now!

As for assvice, all I can say is just enjoy the relationship your children will have. My kids are two years and 9 months apart, girl then boy, and once my son was old enough, they played together a lot. Now my kids are 9 and 12, and while they still get along, they get on each other's nerves more. And that's normal and okay.

I'm thankful that they are as close as they are. For me it signals that they do depend on each other, and will continue to do so once they're grown up.

Posted by: Alison at August 30, 2007 12:16 PM

I'm the oldest of three girls. Our parents were very overprotective of me and the middle kid...and very permissive with the baby sister. She got everything that we didn't. Here's the best advice I can offer:

1) Assume from the beginning that your children will be individuals. Different from you...different from each other. Revel in their individuality rather than assuming there is one ideal persona to which everyone should aspire. This was one of the biggest mistakes my parents made with us and the result is that they don't know me or my motivations very well at all.

2)Enforcing the same rules and regulations (as far as what constitutes good behavior, respect, etc) on each of them is a good idea, but it won't change the fact that they're different people. Expect different reactions from child to child with regard to personality. That said, if this next child is a boy, one of the worst disservices you can do would be to tailor your expectations according to gender. (Girls are expected to do one thing...boys another.) This will come back to bite you on the ass faster than anything. Parenting more than one kid puts your children in the position to compare EVERYTHING you say and do to them with everything you say and do to the other sibling(s). It gets ugly sometimes.

3)As a parent, you screw up daily. We all do. You don't fool kids by pretending to be perfect in order to gain their respect. They already know you goofed up. Cop to it, apologize, change the behavior (if necessary) ask for forgiveness...and move on. This kid has an ally now and in a few years they'll be discussing your every move. What Mia doesn't notice...the other kid will...and vice versa.
4) Enjoy every moment with your kids and let them know that you do. Love their mother with ferocity and candor. It's one of the best gifts you can give your child. I think you've got this step covere, my friend.

Posted by: wordgirl at August 30, 2007 12:17 PM

After skimming through the comments here, I see a lot of people talking about fighting siblings. I hope I didn't give the impression that mine never fight! But the good has outweighed the bad, and I just remember my kids finding a common ground and working with it.

On the other hand, Big Sister did some pretty mean things to Little Brother when he was a baby. But she was three. :)

Posted by: Alison at August 30, 2007 12:21 PM

I was #3 out of 4 kids so lots of siblings to torture (and to torture me). But the pros of it are, I always had someone to play with, confidants, someone else to place the blame on, and someone to commiserate with when the parents were "being mean".

Can't think of any advice. It's not that much different having one vs. having two...except you're calmer. You won't worry as much either. While no two kids are ever alike, just the fact that you've done this before will help make it easier.
Oh yes, one piece of advice I just thought soon as your kids reach school age DO NOT BUY THEM MATCHING OUTFITS. My mom used to stick all 4 of us in matching clear up until my oldest sister was like 12. She's still in therapy...

You could always talk to my 16 yr old son by emailing me if you think of any specific questions...his sister wasn't born until after he turned 11 so he's kind of done both - been an only child AND has a sibling.

Posted by: fauve at August 30, 2007 12:24 PM

I actually had the best of both worlds, I think. I was an only child until I was 12. So, I had all of my parents attention when I was small, but was old enough to be thrilled when my brother came along. That doesn't really help you, of course.

I think, love them both, treat them equally and you should be good, right?

Posted by: bad penguin at August 30, 2007 12:30 PM

I'm one of two- I have a sister who is 21 months older, but my mom was an only child and my dad is one of 3. Just to echo what has already been said above- they will fight, and it's totally normal. My mom had the hardest time with us because being an only child (and always wishing for a sister while growing up) she had no idea how much sisters would fight, say they hated each other, etc. My dad was always like "yeah, that's totally normal, siblings fight..." Good luck, and congratulations again!

Posted by: Judy at August 30, 2007 12:35 PM

i'm a classic middle older sister and brother are 4 and 3 years older than i am and my baby brother is seven years younger.

my only advice is that you make sure to spend alone time with #2...which becomes difficult, but it's REALLY important!

Posted by: ali at August 30, 2007 12:46 PM

I'm the lucky one - only child with a cousin who's also an only. We were a year apart in age and lived 15 miles from each other. So really we were sisters, but without the bad stuff.

Posted by: Heather at August 30, 2007 1:01 PM

I was the oldest of three, which made me the defacto babysitter at age ~13. It teaches you responsibility on the one hand, and resentment on the other, but you do become a little closer to your siblings in the process. You also learn how much fun playing "Big-time wrestling" in the living room can be with people who you can actually body slam (It taught them the cleansing power of pain and even after all these years they pay close attention when I talk to them). So, there are pluses and minuses to being the oldest. The biggest minus, are your parents' guinea pig where learning how to be parents is concerned, but such is life.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at August 30, 2007 1:03 PM

I'm the youngest of two - 17 months apart. I get along pretty well with my brother these days. While I don't remember fighting with him when we were younger, I'm sure there was some of that. But I do remember thinking he was the best thing since sliced bread, the cool older brother.

From what I can tell, you and Beth are good parents. You'll figure it out.

Posted by: hannita at August 30, 2007 1:06 PM

I am technically a single child, but I grew up around so many uncles close to my age, cousins coming out of every corner, that I never get pegged as a singleton.

I think just making Mia think this is the normal order of things. After all, if each married couple only had one child, the human race would have died out a long, long time ago.

You were never a father before, and you're doing a great job at that. No worries! Just remember, it's a new person coming into your life, and you'll love this new Lima as much as Mia! Crazy to have so much good stuff in one lifetime, huh?

Posted by: alektra at August 30, 2007 1:41 PM

I am #3 of 6 girls. #'s 1 & 2 were years apart then Mom and Dad got Catholic and had 4 in 6 years. Which meant that we had a four way wardrobe. The best thing is that the cousins are best friends. I had 4 kids. The younger 2 fought ALL. THE. TIME. It was more important to win that fight than to appease Mom. Be prepared for that. But now at 29 and 27, they are each others best friends. If you have realitives around, keep clost to them. Sometimes cousins are better than sibs.

Posted by: joss is boss at August 30, 2007 2:16 PM

I've been/am both. No. Really. It's true.
I was a singleton until I was 10. Between the ages of 10 and 18 my parents gave me 1 sister and 3 brothers. It was a love/hate relationship from the get-go. Now that we're older (I'm 34, the youngest is 16), we still have our moments/fights but, we also have a ridiculous amount of fun together and I can say that we are truly friends. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

The one bit of advice I can give - love/teach/treat them equally and all will be fine. As for the fighting - it's going to happen whether you like it or not. My Mother dealt with the fighting/horse-play by giving us ONE warning that we were going to hurt ourselves and should stop. If we continued and ended up hurting ourselves (which was usually the case), she made it known that she didn't want to hear about it unless something was broken or bleeding profusely - she'd warned us and we knew better. Also, if there was a punishment to be handed down from the fighting, both parties were punished equally.
Hope this helps.
Congratulations on the new edition and good luck!

Posted by: Lori at August 30, 2007 2:26 PM

I'm an only child (not by choice, my dad was killed when I was three so no more siblings for me) and I'm spoiled rotten. Not only because I'm an only child, but because I'm my father's daughter type of thing. The legacy lives on.

So, I can totally relate to what you must be going through. I know I want our kid to have a sibling. Not that I think I grew up lacking something, not at all. But my main motivation is that I don't want our child alone when my husband and I die (hopefully that doesn't sound too morbid, but it's the truth). My husband is the middle of three and while his relationship with is sister and brother may be strained at some point, they've all shared in the same experiences--good and bad--and that kind of bond seems really special. One I can't even possibly imagine. Or looking at people who look a lot like me. That seems strange too.

So, I really don't have any advice. I guess just raise them to be good people, and take it from there. Or defer to Beth in times of woe:-)

Posted by: samantha jo campen at August 30, 2007 2:52 PM

I think you should just totally chill about it and let it happen the way it happens. It's not worth being worried about it. I'm not being ignorant either, so don't take it as some kind of insult. I have five kids and they fight sometimes, and sometimes they love each other so much it amazes you. Just treat them equal and give them the same love. The only time I step in is when they are damaging the other person emotionally or sometimes physically. You'll know when that is!! ;)

Deep breathes!

Posted by: BID at August 30, 2007 3:16 PM

I am the fourth of FIVE daughters. When I was a kid even the dog was a female, my poor father was out-numbered. My older sisters influenced my taste in music; my younger sister and I just fought a lot. My advice: don't favor one child over the other, let them work out there problems with each other, don't compare personalities in a competitive manner, and do tell them how wonderful they are, everyday.

Posted by: Milly at August 30, 2007 4:58 PM

Middle of three kids (older sister, younger brother) separated by a year and a half to two years. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

My advice? Expect the kids to argue. Let it roll off your back, because that's what they'll be doing.

Posted by: Melissa at August 30, 2007 8:07 PM

I think Nick and I will have these same questions someday when we have kids. I am one of two kids in my family, but Nick is one of twelve kids. Yep, a full dozen. His frame of reference is so completely different from mine.

Anyway, speaking from my perspective, having a sibling (or eleven) is great, even if you go through those phases where you don't always get along. You get older and come to consider them some of your closest friends.

Posted by: angela at August 30, 2007 8:33 PM

I'm the oldest of 2 by 4 years and my husband is the youngest of 4 BOYS and he was a handful!

I don't have any parenting advice of my own - but my mom says, in hindsight, that once I got my driver's license (at 16) that she probably forced me to bring my sister out with me and my friends too often... I really couldn't stand my sister for a long time - she was a very difficult child/teen and is just now, at 36, starting to be a friend.

Posted by: Sue at August 30, 2007 9:02 PM

I'm the oldest of three sisters. The problem with three is that there was always an odd man out. I remember it as the two younger against me "the bossy one" but my youngest sister remembers it as the two older ones against her. :)

My husband and I have a 12 year old son. We don't live near family so not only is he an only but as he used to say he's a "lonely only." He's more mature than most kids his age, he's certainly gotten more of our attention being an only and I don't miss the constant bickering I hear from my friends kids. On the downside, he's less mature in competitive situations and more likely to pull information out of his ass with no one to tell him "nuh uh" and smack him.

Had things worked out when he was 3 or 4 we would have had another but now these he's 12 another kid would be a second "only".

Posted by: wendy at August 30, 2007 9:54 PM

I have one younger brother. I wouldn't trade him for the world. I can understand you not knowing how it will be, but I assure you, you guys will be great.

Now, I normally am not one to do this, but when you have a moment, check out my post on my bro. I wrote it a few days before his birthday in July. It may give you a perspective of someone who loved being a sibling.

Posted by: Phoenix at August 30, 2007 10:02 PM

I am the oldest of three children. However, I am 9 years older than my brother and 11 years older than my sister. Essentially, I was the live-in Older Sister/Baby Sitter. In other words, I didn't really have the sibling rivalry that I would have had if we were born closer together. My brother and sister had much more of a rivalry than they ever did with me.

We were always referred to "Gina and the kids" as opposed to just "the kids" -- simply because I was an only child for 9 years and my parents were used to just using my name (as opposed to calling me 'the kid'). By the time the other two came along, my parents' definition of 'kid' didn't quite fit me.

Anyhow, when I was growing up an only child, I always prayed for a little brother or sister, and I think that was partly because I had friends who had siblings they could have rivalries with, or simply play with. I think I felt I was missing out. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't.

My husband and I are planning to have two children -- I don't want to force my child to be an only child (I want to offer the child an experience I didn't have), and we can't run around after more than two kids, as we only have two pairs of arms between the two of us.

My advice to you is to be as fair as you possibly can and try not to pick sides when the rivalry gets 'out of hand'. Even more importantly, observe their interactions with each other and cherish the fact that your children get to experience something you never had the opportunity to experience -- and you'll all benefit.

Posted by: ironic1 at August 30, 2007 10:05 PM

Did your dad ever get another Teddy Bear?!?!?!

I have an older brother and 5 younger brothers through the blessings of marriage and divorce, and I honestly would not trade them for the world (at least today). :)

My older brother had my back when the the older kids were picking on me, kept me company when I was sick, helped me with my homework, and teamed up with me to aggravate my younger brothers.

My younger brothers were annoying, had the coolest new toys, and were always up for a game of hide and seek, soccer, or some other game that required a few people.

How many people can talk about burying a sibling up to their shoulders at the beach in the sand? Teaching one of them to climb out of their crib, over the baby gate, and possibly playpen... Ganging up on the babysitter (or single aunt... the poor thing...)? Have you ever seen 'Cheaper by the Dozen'? That was pretty much my house growing up.

I would say take it one day at a time. Being the only girl I did get away with a little bit more than my brothers, but if I started something I was on my own. My dad was fair and kind of went with the idea, "They will either figure it out or kill each other" when we were fighting (did I mention there were 6 boys), and we did (I was a champ when it came to crying on cue). :)

I am sure you will do a great job parenting two children (or three, or four...). Look how great Mia has turned out! As my mom would say, "What's one more"? :) The only thing you have to figure out is how to survive on less sleep and of course when they start to gang up on you... :)

Posted by: Jennie at August 30, 2007 10:49 PM

I am an only child too! FreezeM has 2 older brothers. I'll just have to learn along with you :)

Posted by: Nadine at August 31, 2007 5:10 AM

From my experience, sibling relationships can be all over the map, so to speak. Siblings can love each other or hate each other, can be a blessing or a burden. My only advice would be to really make an effort to establish that even though there will be arguments, at the end of the day everybody in this family is on the same team. I hope your kids are able to have that strong sibling bond that makes a lifelong rewarding relationship. I'm sure they will be :)

Posted by: Amy at August 31, 2007 4:08 PM

I am the youngest of 6, count em, 6!!!! And yet I was five years younger than my closest sibling so I feel like I can relate to being an only child to some degree. Sibling rivalry isn't something you can prepare for, in my opinion. But during those horrible teddy-bear-plucking-car-rides that you're bound to have, just remember - Mia is going to have a partner in life. Someone who understands exactly what it was like to grow up in your house and be your child. And that is a bond that is hard to break.

Posted by: Amaya at August 31, 2007 5:02 PM

Chris, I'm an only child and I've always (especially as an adult) wished I'd had siblings. I know that having a brother/sister is no guarantee of lifetime cameraderie (we've certainly all witnessed the opposite in certain cases), but it is a special bond.

All I know is that when Joe and I decided to have a baby, I insisted that I wasn't having one unless we would eventually have two. I felt really strongly about giving our children siblings.

And, so far, I am just amazed. Donovan is 6 and Simon is 3, and they couldn't possibly be tighter. They are complete opposites in every way, but they are (usually) so wonderful, fun, and generous with each other. The shit they come up with together is priceless.

You know how looking at your kid just warms your heart like nothing else? Well, looking at your KIDS TOGETHER (when they're being nice, that is) warms your heart even more. Seriously. It's awesome.

Posted by: Martha at September 3, 2007 12:49 AM

I'm somewhat traumatized by that teddy bear story - I can't believe your grandmother didn't make him turn the car around to pick up the bear. Ugh.

As for the sibling thing, I'm the youngest of 4 and even though I REALLY wanted to be an only child when I was a kid, I wouldn't trade my siblings in for anything now. My sister is 8 years older than me, then I have a brother who is 5 years older than me - we got along for the most part, except for the usual fights that all kids have, but my other brother is only 14 months older than me, and we fought constantly, over everything. Absolutely everything. I think part of it was b/c we were so close in age that it was natural, but partly it was that my parents egged on a lot of competition between us, constantly comparing us. That just isn't healthy. Fortunately she's stopped that now that we're all adults, but it was pretty sucky when we were kids. My brother and I fought horribly until I went to college and he joined the Air Force - time apart and a chance to mature a bit really helped and now that he's married and has a kid we're actually pretty close. I don't have kids yet, but my only advice - for what it's worth - would be to try not to compare Mia and the little one too much. I'm sure you won't be able to help it to an extent, but if you can really appreciate them as individuals and not pitt them against each other I think that'll be a good thing.

Good luck! Personally, when I have kids I definitely want more than one - the bond between siblings can be a really special thing. Plus, there will be more of them to visit me when I'm in a nursing home!

Posted by: erin at September 3, 2007 1:48 PM

I was an only for 8 yrs and now the takes some adjusting going from all the attention to half, so make sure Mia knows that she'll always have time alone with both you and Beth.

Btw, congrats! I don't get online much to read anymore!

Posted by: christina at September 6, 2007 9:59 PM

I was an only for 8 yrs and now the takes some adjusting going from all the attention to half, so make sure Mia knows that she'll always have time alone with both you and Beth.

Btw, congrats! I don't get online much to read anymore!

Posted by: christina at September 6, 2007 9:59 PM