I am often jealous of parents who have just one child. With one set of issues to focus on, and just one child to give all your attention to, it’s easy to see how much enjoyment this type of parenting relationship can bring.
Parents of multiples, on the other hand, get to multiply that joy by 2, 3 or however many children we have. However, there are additional challenges that our friends with only one child don’t have to face.
Here are some important lessons I’ve learned as a parent of three older children that I’ve come to believe are some of the most important things each parent should know. These are especially relevant for new parents.
5 Important Life Lessons For Parenting Multiple Children:
- There is no such thing as “normal” for children.
New parents often wonder what they are doing “wrong” when they have issues with their children, especially when one child behaves a certain way and the other doesn’t. Chances are whatever behavior or developmental issues you are facing have been faced by many other parents with multiple children.
- What works for one child might not work for the other.
Your first child is the easy one, the one that listens to everything you say and behaves like an angel when you leave them with family or a sitter. Then the next one comes along and you begin to wonder if they’re both from the same gene pool! The 2nd child acts nothing like the first, and the same parenting style you used the first time doesn’t work with the next child.
Be prepared to use flexible parenting styles (including rules and discipline) from one child to the next depending on their needs.
- Each child develops at their own rate.
This is a classic multiples issue for everyone except the Manning family. Child one is a superstar at a sport by age 6 while child 2 can barely ride a bike by the same age.
Each child develops on their own schedule, and some may never develop the same skill set as their siblings. Just because one child excels at sports, don’t be surprised if the others don’t, or if it takes them much longer to reach the same level of proficiency.
- Each child needs your undivided attention.
Parents of multiples are often in large groups due to sheer numbers. And while it’s great to have the entire family together, it’s important to realize that each child needs your undivided attention as often as possible. Some of my best moments as a parent have come during “one on one” time.
- Feeling like a juggler is normal.
Many of my friends who parent multiple children lament how they often feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. I have come to believe that this is normal with multiple children, especially for those that have 3 or more kids. The fact is you’re outnumbered! So just do your best and remember that everyone else is having a tough time keeping up too!