Monday, November 7, 2011
Bear with me as I stray once again from baby sign language and talk about a different parenting issue that many young families face. It’s one that Susan Goodwyn and I address in our book, Baby Hearts.
So, you’re expecting another baby! Wonderful! But creeping into your thoughts at the good news is concern over how the upcoming blessed event will be received by your older child whose place as “Baby” is being usurped.
Although most second-time parents are aware that there may be jealousy, many also assume that reassurances about “enough love for both” should solve the problem. The fact that it doesn’t may actually strike some parents as unreasonable and selfish.
It was in response to such attitudes that A. Faber and E. Mazlich, authors of Siblings without Rivalry, came up with a role-playing strategy that I love and have adapted a bit to share with you below. They suggested that parents put themselves in the shoes of the wife in the following scenario:
HUSBAND: I’ve got a wonderful surprise for you! Now, you know I love you very, very much, honey, don’t you? And you know you’ve brought great joy into my life, right?
WIFE: I love you too!
HUSBAND: Well, here’s the surprise. I’ve enjoyed having my own little wife so much that I thought it would be nice for all of us to have another wife in the family! Won’t that be wonderful?
HUSBAND: Just think about it. You’ll have another wife to play with and maybe even share your room with. And because you’re such a good wife and know so much more than she will about everything, you can help me take care of her. The three of us can go on walks together and read books together…and everything! We’ll all be one, big happy family! Won’t that be fun?
Now, don’t you have more sympathy than before for kids who are getting this “wonderful” news? It’s natural for them to be upset and it will take time, love, and plenty of patience to to bring them around. (TIP: Some of you may be lucky enough to find a Baby Signs instructor offering our "Sibling Class" in your area. Visit www.babysigns.com and click on "Find a Class.")
Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis