Our Unexpected Co-Parent

Having two kids was such a big decision for us.  My husband was definitely more on board than I was, but eventually, we decided that we would try for a second child and we were surprised with another baby girl.

Like any other Mom, I was nervous about the transition to two kids. Would they get along? Would they fight? Would I have time to give enough attention to both kids? Well, things went really well despite their 4.5 year age gap. Our first daughter immediately attached to our second daughter, and they have been pretty inseparable since day one. Fast forward three and half years later and they are still great together, but there have been some interesting challenges.

Our oldest child has made herself our co-parent.

She is sweet as pie, but she undermines and challenges our parenting of our youngest all the time! If we tell the little one she can’t have something, she gives it to her anyway. If we are working on independence, she is right there “helping” her when we are trying to teach her to persevere. When I tell my 3.5 year old she has to walk because Mom is not holding her, guess who is right there picking her up anyway. You got it, big sister!

In all of the scenarios and anticipated sibling rivalry struggles I played in my head, this was definitely unexpected. I love their bond and the helpful nature of my oldest child but she drives me CRAZY as she constantly coddles her little sister.

This has been one of the most difficult parenting challenges I’ve had to navigate because I don’t want to break my daughter’s spirit and natural helpful personality but this has been a new level of teaching boundaries. She isn’t trying to be disrespectful or intentionally undermine our parenting decisions but, at 8 years old, she’s not mature enough to understand why we are making these decisions.  Parenting a big sister is an interesting task; we want her to be protective, loving, and caring but also understand when it’s okay to let Mom and Dad be Mom and Dad.

How are we navigating it?

With a LOT of patience!  I sat down with my big girl a few weeks ago and told her that we love how helpful she is with her sister but I need her to tone it down a bit.  I explained that sometimes when we give Sissy certain restrictions it’s because it is her time to learn or she is not big enough to complete certain tasks yet.  Sometimes we let her struggle because this gives her brain and body time to grow.  A few times I pulled her back to watch while her sister completed a task in a way that was much different than the way she would have completed it and had her watch as her sister worked through the dilemma independently.  She was shocked to see her sister have the same outcome that she would have had by completing the task in an unconventional way.

Our hope is that as she navigates her own relationships she will find the value in stepping back to watch how someone else does things and use it as a tool for learning.  When she tells us stories of struggles she had at school with friends we try to relate it to similar situations she had with her sister and how sometimes being helpful isn’t always the answer and sometimes sitting back and watching is the best solution for a problem.

Have any of you out there dealt with a similar issue???  Share your stories and tips in the comments!

Seleigh is a New Orleans native currently residing in Waggaman with her husband and two daughters. She stayed local and received her undergraduate degree from Loyola University New Orleans and Master’s from the University of New Orleans. She currently works at a New Orleans charter school as a School Operations Leader. As a life long civil servant she has found her passion dedicating her days to NOLA’s youngest residents! Seleigh spends her weekends running between extra curricular activities for her girls, festival hopping and enjoying dinner at her favorite restaurants.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here