I have three kids, not including me. The two older ones, from my first marriage, aren’t children anymore. Both are in college at CSU (Colorado State University). They are eighteen months apart in age – not that I’m recommending that option. Then there is Amy, who calls her mom, “Mama J.” She’s nine.

When I got out of college, I got a chance to move to California and work for a great company in a beautiful part of the world. My wife wanted to have children, mostly because her sister was having hers. Only later would I figure out there was more to this plan than that. For me, starting a family at twenty-four was a challenge. I always loved my children completely, but I was young, immature and unclear about whom I was to become. Unfortunately, there were no pre-requisites to becoming a father.

So, I dove into it. I found the early years a strain on my patience. The kids were amazing young people, but I always felt that so much of my time went into tasks to support them, and of course it did. It was only later that I figured out that I am a social butterfly that needs a healthy dose of adult interaction.

Just as important, I found my attention toward my kids split. It seemed hard for me to do things with both of them, because they always found ways to compete and fight over play things and attention. It was always too easy for me to reach my boiling point. I was able to realize that this was my problem and that I should basically keep it to myself. By that, I mean that I felt it wasn’t right to loose my temper, even though I was at that point so much of the time.

Besides my issues, I can now say that some good tools would have really helped me to deal with the challenges of splitting attention between two children of comparable ages.

Now I am… (how shall I say it?) older. Thankfully I have learned a lot from my first trip through parenting. And now there’s Amy. The first comment I can make is that it is just SO MUCH EASIER having one child. Oh my goodness.

One example that comes to mind is age-appropriate behavior. You know when your child sings a new song twenty times? It’s not inappropriate until about the twentieth time, I think. Still, I wouldn’t have minded if she stopped at the third or fourth.

Now that I have such a different perspective, I really don’t get frustrated by this. Rather, I see it as an opportunity to explore what she is experiencing. But, a big difference is that she doesn’t have a sibling that is picking on her, or teasing her, or bighting her – where a physical fight is a likely outcome.

What’s it all mean? Well, I must say that I don’t see myself as much of an advisor on parenting. Student, perhaps. But I can say that it is just way more achievable for me to focus on one child at a time. For me, this is a matter of focus. I find that I do this even with my older children. Lunch with each separately is much more productive for learning about whom they are and how I can help than a combined event.

And for the younger parent that doesn’t have a choice? I have two suggestions. One is to learn how to be patient as soon as you can. When I got past the “I don’t like this” and got into the “how can I get involved in this?” I felt so much better (and was probably a better parent). The other is to be open to parenting tools. If I had known to focus on each child at times, I think that would have helped me and my kids more.

Oh, good mediation techniques don’t hurt either 😉



Leave a Reply