When my first son (Noah) was born, I was so excited about parenting because, my goodness, he was easy. His personality was chill, but also fun and he was just an easy addition to our family. When Noah was one year old, we found out that we were expecting baby boy #2. I was eager to have another sweet, cute, and easy baby, especially the easy part. As Uriah, our second son, started to become a toddler, it was so evident how different he was from his older brother. Not only did they look so different, but also my two boys have completely different personalities. It challenged me not just because he was more “difficult,” but it actually made me feel stretched. I felt so stretched and I just wanted to be comfortable.
Having kids who are very different from each other can be so exhausting. It challenges you and stretches you in such a unique way. Not only do you have to meet their individual needs, you have to parent in different ways. As if parenting wasn’t already hard.
One thing I have learned is the hard work is always worth it. I never want one of my boys to feel more noticed, more loved, or anything of the sort. So here are a few things I have learned to do when parenting totally different kids.
Give them their own kind of attention.
Noah is totally a words of affirmation kid while Uriah is all about physical touch. As soon as I noticed these things about their personalities, I pursued them in these ways. I am very intentional about telling Noah how proud I am of him and showing Uriah love by hugs and kisses. I noticed when I started doing this more, they stopped competing for my attention as much. The common denominator is they both like quality time, so this means a lot less Instagram and blog reading for me. Bring on the race cars, trains, and many hours sitting on the floor playing. I promise, it is worth the hard work and sacrifice.
Discipline them differently.
A time-out is effective for Uriah, but Noah loves it because he actually prefers to be alone. Uriah is very sensitive, and a firm voice hurts his feelings. This means I am having to learn how to correct my children in unique ways, which can be so challenging. As I learn to do this well, I see proof that it works in their individual responses. I always want discipline to simply be a way of instruction and teaching my boys, so it is important that I do it intentionally. I see so many great responses when I am purposeful about catering even my discipline to their unique personalities.
Love them the way they need to be loved.
It all comes down to this for me. Meeting their needs, responding to their love languages, spending time with them the way that means most to them as individuals. It all comes down to love. I am learning to love them how God created them to be loved, and I am seeing such a beautiful response come from them. They seem more secure, less in competition, and especially more comfortable being themselves. They are still both so young, so I can only imagine how much this will affect them in the future.
I should add that I have another son, my sweet baby Ezrah. He is 9 months, and I will have to pay close attention to his personality so I can also meet his unique needs. Parenting is just challenging, but it is so refining. I think we can all agree the refined things tend to be the more beautiful ones. We can do this mamas, and we can do it well.
The 5 Love Languages of Children is now of my favorites books and is helpful in understanding the way your kiddos need to be loved.