Although all parents dream that the arrival of a sibling will be a huge joy and happiness for the first child, it is difficult for the first child, dethroned from his role as the only child and youngest in the family, to welcome his competitor without reservation.
The baby is often presented when it is still in the mother’s belly. The child hugs his belly, gives kisses, talks to his brother and feels his movements, still in the enormous harmony of the triad and far from imagining what and who will come from there.
As the birth approaches, family and friends stop asking so much about the child, becoming interested and showing greater anxiety and excitement for the baby that is coming. They ask if it’s long before the birth, comment on the size of the belly, offer gifts and appear very excited about the arrival of the new member. The brother experiences this anticipation with curiosity, sometimes even enthusiasm, but also with some fear and distrust.
And the day arrives! The parents go to the maternity ward to receive the baby, while the first-born is placed in the care of a family member. A visit to the maternity ward is unnecessary, because it is difficult for parents, especially the mother, to have the availability and energy to welcome their child the way they would like, with time and dedication. The mother may even be weak and very focused on the newborn.
When they get home, everything will necessarily be different, because the family is bigger. Despite the parents’ enormous effort to ensure that whoever has forcibly acquired the title of ‘eldest son’ feels as little as possible that he is no longer the absolute holder of the kingdom, family life is naturally different. There is a new baby in the family, absolutely dependent on his parents. Which means for those who were used to having full attention, that the lap is now shared, the mother who was more available has to also dedicate herself to the baby who cries when he is hungry, sleepy or because he wants attention, the visits and the Strangers that they come across start to talk mainly to the younger one and the older brother watches all this with patience and sometimes also with some sadness, tantrums or regressions, for fear of losing his place. It’s not easy.
As the baby grows, the house fills not only with the characteristic paraphernalia (egg, stroller, changing table, bouncer, diapers, bottles…), but also with its attractive toys and the baby itself, who is no longer always lying down to start exploring the world. The child thus begins to feel that the house, the space, the attention and the parents are less and less his alone.
Sometimes, with the best of intentions, parents assign their firstborn the role of helper, older brother, responsible person. Especially because, compared to his little brother, any child looks like a big girl. But the oldest brother could be five, four, three, two or one! He’s not old enough to be responsible or grown up, he doesn’t want to take care, he wants to be looked after, he wants attention, he wants to play, be spoiled and have a big lap always waiting for him, as he was used to.
Despite this initial shock, this change that is not always peaceful and internalized, even though sometimes they don’t realize it, the moment eventually comes when having a sibling becomes the gift that has been promised for so long. One day they start playing together, talking, playing pranks, keeping each other company, even with tension adjustments in between, and they will become accomplices and companions for life.
Psychologist at ClinicaLab Rita de Botton
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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