Parenting Journey: The 5 Difference In Parents’ Reaction Between The First And Third Child
In one of the most expensive city in the world to live in, raising a child while maintaining a first world lifestyle probably involves the selling of a kidney or two. When I see families with three or more children in tow, my mind immediately assumes a few things: One, they really love children. Two, it was an accident. Three, the Baby Bonus package must be rather attractive. Four, they have no idea what to do with the excess cash. I’m sure there are other more legitimate reasons but my brain is unable to fathom it right now.
Regardless the reason, I was keen to find out the difference in parenting journey between the first and third child. Some friends working with a local parenting portal helped me put the word out and the responses were both honest and hilarious.
It was unsurprising to learn that parents are more likely to splurge on clothing for their first child. New mums get to play dress up with their firstborn, taking special care to coordinate the top and bottom, but by the time the third child has joined the mix, the novelty has waned. If the first child is a girl and the third is a boy, he might receive his sister’s pink clothes. “They can’t really tell the difference, lah,” said Vivian, “The cut for baby boys and girls are the same, only the colour and design differs.” Majority of the parents agreed that babies outgrow their outfit really quickly in the first year and this is an area that they would rather save on.
Parents are also likely to fuss over their firstborn. Any signs of distress from the child will get the whole house activated for an emergency council meeting with grandparents and nanny. Parents with three or more children are the equivalent of decorated war veterans: very few things faze them. Dropped pacifier? That’s ok. Just wipe it on your shirt and it goes right back in. There is also no need to peep into a diaper every hour, the smell will be a clear indication, and even then, it can stay on thirty more minutes till a nursing room is conveniently available.
Date nights are important in keeping a marriage alive and female magazines also encourage new mums to take a full day off to pamper themselves, but the first time parents leave their first child at home with a caretaker, the date is probably over in 30 minutes with five phone calls to check in on the kid during that time. Parents are a lot more chill by the time the third kid gets left alone for the first time. The caretaker is given stern instruction to call only if the house has burnt down.
One of the favourite ways for parents to celebrate the birth of their child is to part with large amount of hard-earned cash to cast their child’s tiny handprint in clay or have a photo of the newborn sleeping soundly in daddy’s palm. By the time the third kid comes round, you no longer recall where you kept the priceless memorabilia and figured a selfie shot from your handphone camera would suffice.
New parents tend to spend a lot of time researching on children’s developmental milestone and keep a daily record of their firstborn’s progress. First turn, first crawl, first word, etc. Parents would only fret over the third child if the little one missed the developmental milestone by, well – a mile. Experienced parents understand that children develop at different speed and it’s perfectly all right to let the little one develop at his own comfortable place.
While it may seem like the third child is getting the shorter end of the stick, some parents believe that this is also the reason why the youngest child turns out tougher and more resilient. Of course there’s the other end of the spectrum where parents over-compensate the lack of privileges for the third child by providing even more, probably out of guilt most times. That could lead to the child being a spoilt brat.
Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.
When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.