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Dealing with sibling acceptance

But truthfully, however intelligent our kids are, it is a new experience for them just as it was for us when their sister or brother comes along, so it isn’t something they can just accept like an adult

Oh! Motherhood, when it’s finally starting to sink in and you think ‘you got this’, God’s plans just surprise you. Having my first baby, Tirzah, was overwhelming in so many ways but I eventually got the hang of it. One and a half years later, we got the news of baby number two. Of course we thought this time would be a piece of cake seeing as we’ve been there, done that. The only thing that we were eager to find out was the sex of the baby. First born is a girl so we were hoping for #2 to be a boy...haha oh what a wow!!!

Fast-forward to the end of the pregnancy, our wish came true; our baby boy, Tobias, came along a week before lockdown and now all we could think of was raising the boy child alongside his sister. What we never really prepared for though was how to deal with sibling acceptance.

Now, I am sure we’ve heard so many stories of; “You need to talk to your child each time to prepare them for the incoming sibling blablabla... But truthfully, however intelligent our kids are, it is a new experience for them just as it was for us when their sister or brother comes along, so it isn’t something they can just accept like an adult. What I am saying is expect the interesting and dramatic tantrums, attention seeking, jealousy; it’s a competition!!

Personally, the hardest part about raising two children so far has been dealing with my daughter's tantrums especially the ones related to accepting her brother. That first month got me shouting at my daughter like crazy and I actually remember being told by one of my family members that I was going through postpartum depression. I even had to google to confirm some of these things but we all know how google can murder us properly even for something that just requires proper handling.

Here are some of the adjustments I have made to keep our parent-child relationships sane;

1. Give the first born the attention that they need

You have to realize that they feel like they are competing for your love and therefore as a parent, you should strive to make sure that is not the case. ‘’They don’t need just quality time; they need quantity time too.’’

2. Do not shout at your kids during their tantrum otherwise they get wilder

Shouting makes the child feel distant from you. Always try to talk to them calmly and listen more. At this time, they are just trying to get your attention by doing very silly things and so you have to bare with them. Also remember they don’t understand where this other human being came from and why he has taken their place, so put yourself in their shoes and bare with them.

3. Try as much as possible to spend time with your toddler

Yes, even when you are rushing to nap once the baby sleeps, you have to remember that they are still children too and you are their only world. You need to play with them, laugh with them and do all the other things with them that you did when they were the only child. This advice goes for both parents.

4. In the heat of their tantrums, try and appeal to their inner being (spirit)

This way you will start to realize that they will always listen to you, as opposed to pushing them away or shouting at them which just forms lasting scars in their hearts.

5. Get your toddler(s) involved in matters pertaining to the baby like doing a diaper change, bathing the newborn, dressing them up, etc. This helps them realize how vulnerable and delicate the newborn is and they will gradually grow to love and even desire to protect them as they try to care for them.

6. Give all your kids a regular schedule e.g. bathing them at about the same time daily, eating lunch, dinner at same time daily etc. If you can pull this one off, it will simplify life for you greatly because then they will not find it strange that you’re breastfeeding the newborn as they themselves are feeding, and in time won’t have to always feel bothered when attending to the baby, the toddler is also sorted.

In all this, I really thank God for the great support system I had especially during the lockdown. We are blessed with a welcoming and God-fearing neighborhood that has provided a much-needed support system to our little daughter. They greatly helped to entertain and give our toddler the attention she needed when we couldn’t and most importantly, I learnt a lot on how to divide my attention between the baby and his sibling. It is true that it takes a village to raise an African child.

Research shows that women in general are great multitaskers, and in agreement I would say, Yes, we are, and in motherhood it comes in at a whole new level.

Special shout out to my husband, Ronald who has made this parenting journey smooth and admirable. I can gladly say that I have learnt most of my parenting lessons from his fatherhood skills. God bless you so much love.

Thank you Malketha for allowing me the opportunity to feature on the blog; I admire the work you guys are doing and may God continue to bless you all.

About the author Faith Debra Kyomugisha Kasagga is married to Ronald Kasagga and a mother of two, a girl (Tirzah) and a boy (Tobias). Faith is currently the C. E. O of Ecstatic Rings Ug, a company that deals in wedding and Engagement rings.

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