Parenting Is Blind Trial And Error. I’m Just Crossing My Fingers We Get It Right.

One of the toughest challenges about raising two boys who are a mere 10 months apart in age has been protecting their self esteem. I’m sure other parents have similar struggles with their children who have a larger gap between them. And I know I’m not alone in the Irish twin department. But that doesn’t make my predicament any less problematic.

#1son (age 8) = strong verbal skills, excellent baseball player, great tennis player, kind, thoughtful, hard working, eager to do chores ALWAYS (how did I get so lucky?), conscientiousness, responsible.

#2son (almost 8) = a memory like an elephant about EVERYTHING, a wiz at mental math (he can do computations in his head quicker than me and that’s sayin’ something because I’m a little bit of a math nerd), excellent speller, strong swimmer, a little comedian, excellent cuddler.

#2son outshines #1son in academics. There are days when I dare say that #2son is off the charts bright. (Keep in mind, this IS his mother writing this.)  His teacher has hinted that pushing him up a grade might be in his future. Although, I’d never do that, for many reasons, but one very big reason is that he would then be in his older brother’s grade.

Hence, my problem.

In a household when academic achievement is far more valued than athletic pursuits, how do I balance the praise? I’m glad #1son loves his sports. I’m glad he’s good at them. But I don’t want to highlight his athletic achievements. Yet, #2son brings home amazing grades, and #1son knows it. So, we hesitate showcasing A’s and 100’s on the refrigerator.

It’s like walking a tightrope in this house some days.

I have a fish that can swim but can’t climb trees. Then, I have a squirrel who leaps from tree to tree but can’t swim.

We do our best to focus the praise on kindness, compassion and doing for others. But sometimes I feel their individual strengths get lost somehow.


Parenting is such blind trial and error. We’re doing our best with each child’s achievement and setback. With each child’s accomplishment and failure. I just hope, fingers crossed, that we’re responding in the best possible way that creates happy, confident, amazing young men.

Make that toes crossed, too.


Filed under parenting

18 responses to “Parenting Is Blind Trial And Error. I’m Just Crossing My Fingers We Get It Right.

  1. I know. It’s so hard. I must say though that when I was pregnant, I told my husband that I wanted a kid of average intelligence…they always seem happier than the thinkers. 🙂

  2. I think the biggest part of the challenge is acknowledging it which you have done! If you are aware of the issues at least you can try and address them and you’re definitely less likely to play favourites if you’re already this aware. Praise them like crazy for everything, help them grow in weaker areas and love them for who they are. 🙂

  3. My kids are 5 years apart and they’re completely different ppl in almost every aspect. I will admit that the age gap does make it easier: oh your brother is so much older
    Don’t worry. You are just as good!

    I have no wisdom to share just want to offer moral support. The fact that you are so conscientious about it tells me though that they are going to be fine! They both sound lovely too!

  4. You’ve said it perfectly. I think it’s always a struggle!!

  5. Question: why do you not want to highlight son #1’s athletic achievements? Why not highlight the achievements for each son, as different as they are?We all have different areas in which we excel and I believe each of us should be proud of our areas. But then again, my kids are grown and gone and perhaps I’m missing a point here. Sounds to me as though you have a great deal of which you can be proud.

  6. “But I don’t want to highlight his athletic achievements”


  7. My brother & I were like this, 16 months apart. He’s younger & far superior in the brains department, where I was the all star in sports. We never once felt bad about the others achievements & always bragged about each other. Your boys will probably grow up the same way. I also knew a set of siblings that were 11 months apart & the younger moved up to the older one’s grade. Again it was the same sports vs brains. Neither of them seemed to haver an issue with it.

  8. My boys are like this, too. It is hard sometimes balancing that fine line, but I have found that rewarding each of them for their own talents works. I sometimes tell my husband that I wish I could find the perfect book on parenting so I would be successful – but you are so right, it is a trial and error. Like you stated, I, too, would not move the younger one up a grade. As a high school teacher, I have seen this situation and it is developmentally difficult for both. Plus, it can negatively reinforce some insecurities the oldest child may have. Thank you for this post – we all in this parenting thing together!

  9. Children are good at different things…Why is an A better than a C and homerun? Self-esteem by it’s very nature can not be given (IMO) it has to be earned by fighting the hard fight of succes and failure. Why should one kids academic self esteem be protected at the “expense” of another kids self esteem. If one kid can’t make a travel a baseball team and the other can do you hold them both back? .Cole came home yesterday thrilled with a 67 on a math test…the test score had been hard fought for this year–his teacher wrote great job on the test and I hung it on the fridge with a hug. This is not a remedial math class it’s an advance class which Cole is fighting his way through, tooth and toe nail because he wants too. In his mind he nailed the test and from the look of the smile his face his self esteem was beaming.
    Your boys sound like happy, confident, individuals too me. Good Job.

  10. Parenting is always walking a tightrope, or so it seems. My two boys are also close in age and so different, in so many ways, and still requiring differing parenting skills (tricks?) from yours truly.

    And I still don’t know if I got it “right” or even close. When they’re adults I might have a clue. But until then? I suppose the ultimate thumbs up or down is a crapshoot – like the quote you reference – genius or stupidity, or, as I imagine it is with most of us – somewhere in between.

  11. A few have you have asked why we don’t want to highlight athletic achievements. I suppose because it’s painfully obvious who’s the athletic superstar. Couple that with the fact that athletic son would drop out of school today, at age 8 (almost 9), if he thought he might make a pro team some day. Focus on the word “might.” I never want him to feel that working hard at school could be tossed aside for athletic pursuits. We do celebrate homeruns with a trip to the frozen yogurt store and #2son gets an “atta boy” when he has a particularly stellar grade. I’m just feeling the pressure to tip-toe around their strengths so as not to put undo pressure to try to be something they’re not. OR make them feel inadequate. Just tryin’ to protect them from reality as long as I possibly can! Call me Polly-Jane-Anna!

  12. Simplistic busybody words to Polly-Jane-Anna based purely on your words and my know-it-all personality:

    The boys already know that one is better at sports and one is better in school. Both boys should be praised for their achievements in sports and in school by photographs, papers, what-have-you prominently posted on the fridge. I have no doubt that #1 son is fully aware of your priorities that school is his real job.

    Imagine you had only one son. How would you then treat #1’s sports achievements? Or if the one son were #2, how would you treat his academic achievements? Does either of them deserve any less because he has a brother?

  13. By virtue of the fact that you are even thinking about it speaks volumes and suggests that you are absolutely doing a good job. Most wouldn’t give it a passing thought, at least it would seem that way. But I sympathize, my boys couldn’t be more different and I can already see how son#2 in my house (almost 3) is going to have more outward shine than his more inward focused older brother. And that worries me too. As long as you show them both love and encourage their individual pursuits, I believe they will inevitably follow their hearts. To me that is what matters.

  14. I think you have to celebrate the achievements of both, regardless of what those achievements are. As has been said. Just throwing my two cents in. Me who has only one dog…ah well…

  15. Thank goodness squirrels don’t eat fish, and fish can’t see beyond the water to appraise squirrels.

    😉 You’re welcome.

  16. Parenting is hard. So freakin’ hard. I forsee the same issue. And to top it off, the boys are already highly competative. AHHHHH! Good luck.

  17. Jayne

    I agree with Carol. I’d highlight the achievements of both because both have been blessed with talents – they’re just different talents. (Kudos to you and the school that you have identified their strengths). We can’t all be the same – and frankly, thank goodness.
    …But yeah, parenting is a minefield. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s