It’s a running joke in most large families. You’ve all heard it before or experienced it yourself: The baby of the family is spoiled or treated differently because, by the time mom and dad had him, they were worn out.
I’m here to tell you that’s pretty much true. I’m worn out. Almost daily.
But in all seriousness, it does seem that the more kids you have, the more your parenting style changes.
Let me explain ...
My oldest son hates chocolate. And it’s my fault. Probably not, but I take the blame.
I love chocolate. I think it’s better than just about anything else you can put in your mouth. Just ask my hips.
But when Jacob was a tyke, I wouldn’t let him have candy. No chocolate. No suckers. No nothing. It was bad for him, and I was holding my ground. Now, he hates chocolate. Couldn’t pay the kid to eat a Hershey bar. I doubt there’s truly a direct correlation there, but who knows?
It goes back to my parenting style in those days. I wouldn’t let him have anything but real juice, either. He probably didn’t touch a Capri Sun until he was 5 years old. And he never left the house without his hair in place and his clothes perfectly pressed. We even had designated sand box time to where, I had to have enough time to give him a bath before our next “appointment.”
He was the first child and the only child for four solid years. I even worked part-time while he was young. My entire focus was on that child and making his life as perfect as possible. That meant cutting out sugar and making cleanliness a virtue.
Fast-forward 11 years.
Life has certainly changed.
Capri Sun costs $1.99 a box. We go through several boxes in a month.
Lucas and Alex, sons No. 2 and 3 respectively, have been known to wear super hero costumes to the grocery
Suckers are the least of my worries.
And the boys have been known to get in the sand box before church, but only if I don’t catch them first.
I’ve certainly become more lax — at least with some things.
Each family has a value system.
There are things in each family that parents find important and refuse to give up. Some of the smaller things, I’ll admit, seem to fall by the wayside as more kids join the fold.
We have a lot of things we value in our family. Take respect, for example. We command respect. And family meals are integral. We don’t eat in front of the TV in the living room. Even if it’s a McDonald’s night, it’s consumed at the dining room table. Video games aren’t played in church, and we don’t spend hundreds on each kid for Christmas and birthdays.
But if you want to dress up like Batman and wear your skull-dotted rubber boots to the grocery store, who am I to complain?
Before I had children, I would look at my niece and nephew and say, “My kids will never walk around with snot dripping from their nose.” And as much as I try to curb that, it happens. Kids are kids, and snot happens.
I just choose not to sweat the little things anymore, and that’s certainly going to manifest itself when it comes to my children.
Some would argue I’m treating my kids differently, and in a way, I am.
But mostly, I’ve just swallowed a chill pill and decided that enjoying them is way better than fussing over a little dirt.