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Is My Son Growing Up in His Sister's Shadow?

Yesterday, Anders, Danica, and I were meandering through the aisles of the grocery store. Much to my relief, this was one of those rare trips where Danica asked to sit in the cart, allowing me complete control over what she got within arms reach of, and Anders walked dutifully alongside me.

The outing was surprisingly peaceful and relatively uneventful. No one grabbed a box of donuts and tore off down the aisle with it tucked under their arm like it was a football and they were a baby quarterback, leaving me to play the part of defensive tackle. Once we reached the check out line the interest in the strategically placed candy was minimal.

There was, however, one happening that occurs during most of our trips out together. We were paused in the cereal aisle in a heated debate over the merits of Apple Jacks versus Fruit Loops when a woman stopped to gush over Danica’s curls.

“Oh my goodness! What a pretty girl you are! I just love those ringlets,” she cooed.

Danica beamed, I thanked the woman for the compliment, we decided on Cheerios, and continued on our way.

I know my opinion may be biased, but my daughter is a very pretty girl and the fact that she has a pile of curly hair on her head makes her positively irresistible to the little old ladies at the supermarket. Danica is also outgoing and sure of herself. I have high hopes that she is going to grow into a woman with a strong sense of who she is, a woman that defines herself without placing heavy weight on the opinions of the outside world. Watching this all unfold brings me great relief. Raising a daughter amid today’s constant media onslaught of overly thin women is daunting.

While I do still worry about her evolving self-image, at present, my focus is on Anders. I wonder what effects, if any,  having a sibling that commands the attention of the room has on his self-esteem. He is the shy and reserved half of their dynamic duo and, while he is a very handsome little boy, strangers on the street are powerless against the girl with the curl.

I cannot change their personalities and I wouldn’t want to. Danica will likely always love to take center stage and Anders will find comfort as a wallflower. I just want to ensure that as they grow they recognize the value and necessity of both of their personality types in the world.

It is an everyday challenge parenting two people so vastly different. Anyone else raising one bold and one shy child? How do you manage?

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