Suffering The Effects of Last Child Syndrome

December 1, 2008 | By More

I have been slipping in my parenting 101 skills lately and as I have talked with other parents about my mishaps, I have discovered the reason. I am exhausted from persevering the land mines and pitfalls of adolescence with the first two. Therefore, I attribute my deficits to what I will call the “last child syndrome” or LCS for short.

Following are a few of the symptoms: If with your firstborn, you scheduled your life around the little one’s naptime and bedtime only to turn around with the last-born and tell yourself that the catnap they took while in their car seat as you rushed to get the other children to school, gymnastics, or Awana is good enough, then you have LCS.

If you never allowed your firstborn to drink coke or any other type of soda before they were two years of age but then looked the other way as your sister gave your last-born sips of her Dr. Pepper when he was only 11 months then you have been hit with the LCS.

If bedtime was by the book with the firstborn and turned into whatever time we get home for the last-born then join the club of LCS sufferers.

If you find yourself allowing the youngest to go to bed without brushing his teeth, something you would never have dreamed of allowing the first-born to do then you have reached my level of LSC. Yes, there are levels of this condition. Some of us are far worse off than others.

One last symptom – if with the firstborn, you had strict set in stone curfews and with the last-born, you find yourself negotiating curfews welcome to LCS.

Now these are by no means the only symptoms of LCS but I think you get the idea.

I believe I may have also figured out why middle children have issues. My theory is when parents have child number two they are still trying to follow all the exacting schedules and rules they read in the parenting books to help them raise the firstborn.

Only problem is most of those books don’t tell you how to follow all those rules when you are dealing with a newborn and a two- year-old. So occasionally, parents fall into survival mode, which leads to LCS. All this back and forth between strict rules and no rules will cause a child to have issues.

I also theorize the reason the last child does not suffer from the middle child issues is because by the time the third one arrives, we give the “by the book” parenting about one or two weeks to work and then we surrender to LCS. No more going back and forth between strict rules and no rules, we default to – grab whatever rule works at the moment and hang on tight.

By this time, we have exhausted ourselves and the only thing left from the “by the book” parenting is the guilt of not being able to make it work with more than one child.

Yes, I am aware there are those of you who can keep up the “perfect parenting” no matter how many children you have. That is exactly why those of us with LCS have so much guilt.

I personally keep torturing myself by watching the TV show that features the Duggars with their 17 children and one on the way. I am fascinated by how they manage to maintain order. The only thing on that show I can truly relate to is when momma Duggar says, “Where there are boys – there will be noise.” Amen to that!

So now that I have thoroughly described the excuse for my mishaps I now feel free to share one of the most recent with you.

A couple of weeks ago my youngest, who is 17, informed us he would be attending a concert in Little Rock. No big deal our older children have gone to various concerts in Little Rock before. I assumed this one would be no different.

Therefore, I failed to ask a few essential questions. I did not ascertain what time the concert was scheduled to begin. Turns out this would have been a very important piece of information. At some point during the evening of the concert, my husband asked me when I expected our son to return. It was at that moment I realized just how far I had sunk into the LCS – because I had no idea. This was about 11 pm. Thank goodness, I have learned to text because my son could not hear his phone over the music. It was through text messaging that I learned the band he had gone to see did not even start performing until 10:30 pm and would not finish until midnight. It was a long night.

Lack of sleep is definitely a downside of LCS but good things can come from it as well. It has brought me to my knees more times than I can count. I discovered that I could not be perfect enough, follow enough rules, or read enough books to avoid parenting mistakes.

I have also figured out I need an extra helping of prayer, forgiveness, and grace. Thank God, his mercies are new every morning because tomorrow I begin again LCS and all.

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Category: Every Day Life

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