I’m beginning to get a very clear vision why the youngest in the family often is labeled “spoiled” by older siblings.
It has to do with parental burnout.
By the time that third or fourth child comes along and gets to an age where they challenge everything, want everything, disagree with everything, parents are just too tired to argue. Plus, our older children generally have turned out OK, so the rules begin to blur and become more flexible the farther you get down that chain.
No, it’s not fair. But speaking as the oldest child, it’s also not that big of a deal, although it may seem to be to the kids in question at the time.
Recently I’m going through a stage of mother guilt, so now I’m worried that my recent, more laissez faire attitude with our youngest was not such a good strategy. Not because she’s turned out badly (she is smart, athletic and an all-around good kid — scratch that, young adult), but because I should have continued to maintain a high level of involvement, offering guidance that she may not have wanted but may turn out to be helpful at some point in her life. Really, there should be a parental handbook for how to get through raising the family “baby” — I could have used it.
We may feel burned out, but that doesn’t mean we should stop parenting!
Onward we go…