While I was at my 15-year college reunion this weekend, I found myself repeatedly describing my boys to old friends and peers who had never met them. I told variant stories, but ultimately spent time on their differences. The contrast helps illuminate their truths. Eventually, it became clear that the easiest way was this:
The boys are entirely different but made of the same things.
Yet, F is really going to need O to drag him into the ocean to play in the waves.
And O is really going to need F to remind him that they could drown while in there.
My husband and I were just reflecting on the differences between our boys (3 and 11 months) as we were writing a letter to our youngest for his first birthday. Your sentiment expresses exactly what we were trying to say. It is so true–and watching their brotherhood grow is the best part of parenting.
Having two kids and seeing their totally divergent temperaments and personalities reminds us that as parents we actually have no control at all over who our children are or will become. It relieves a lot of stress in some ways and nudges me toward the things I can control … teaching them the value of discipline, playing, nurturing, listening and loving them just the way they are.
I so enjoy & appreciate your wisdom & your wit. Being the eldest of 5, I sometimes wonder who raised my siblings. The youngest had a very different childhood than I. We are each so different, yet we have a few peculiar traits alike. We all dislike peppermint. We all love “gallooshkies” (an Austrian dish). We all have brown eyes. I guess I’m the only one who loves education; working on my doctorate. I have a neice & nephew who are twins. At age 5, they are closer than the avg brother & sister, but they have very different personalities. It’s so enjoyable to watch them grow & develop.
I have a 2&1/2 year old little girl and a 14 month old little boy. It amazes me how much they influence each other. As they both manage daily to astound us as they grow and learn, my husband asks periodically what I think that they both may aspire to be as adults. I thought just a short time and told him that it doesn’t matter to me what they do as long as they are good and kind to those around them. I love how different they are, I love how they influence each other… but showing goodness and kindness is the one way I desire that they always be the same. One of her first words was “please” (“peesh”) and his first words other than “da-da-da-da” are “thank you” (“tane-too”)!!! Yes, I’m bragging! So different, yet the same. (Maybe the show of kindness will really start shining through when she quits pushing him down…)
Christina Nelson says
I have identical twin boys who are 2 yrs old! It’s amazed me to watch them grow and develop in the same environment, same parenting, same foods, even the same clothing and they are SO very different in personality, temperament and preferences. I just know that they have such distinct and individual spirits and I try to parent them both based on that. I love watching their brotherly bond develop as well and how well they compliment one another. Let’s just hope we make it through the biting and stealing toys stage without too many injuries 🙂
Chris Johnson says
A more wonkish take on this phenomenon: nature vs nurture is a false dichotomy.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Yes, a false dichotomy or an impossible study…That as a first time parent of one child you provide one “nurture” condition. As a second or third time parent you provide an entirely different “nurture” condition. Holding nurture steady and constant seems impossible due to multiple children, evolving parenthood philosophies, fractionated time, and cumulative fatigue!
Jocelyn in CT says
My sister and I are only 10-1/2 months apart in age, yet nearly 180 degrees apart in personality, interests, even speech. I always wondered how, having been raised in the same household, we could be so different? (Yes, sibling rivalry no doubt had something to do with it, but so much??) Then, I had my daughter. She is now 10+. Every step of the way, through her actions and her interests, I am reminded that she is her own person. So much of who one is, at the core, seems to be something you are born with. We are who we are.
P.S. Dear “Mama Doc”: I must tell you how much I enjoy and benefit from your blog. My East Coast (!) pediatrician turned me on to your site. THANK YOU for sharing your advice, your experiences and your concerns. Keep it up!