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My childhood and teen years were scarred by a terrible injustice, or so I thought at the time. It seemed the rules for my older brother were different than they were for me. Sometimes I wasn’t allowed to do things he had done, and I didn’t understand why. He had freedoms I was never granted. I saw the same thing happening to my friends who had older siblings. I was just certain the world was against all of us. Silly, I know. But I was just a child. OK, I’ll admit itI may have been just a little bit dramatic.   

Then I became a mom to multiple children. 

It didn’t take long to realize there was a vital element in parenting, a fundamental method of problem-solving, otherwise known as trial and error.

Finally, I understood why my parents had parented me a bit differently than my older brother.

Sorry for the arguing, Mom and Dad. 

RELATED: Parenting is Harder Now So I’m Parenting Harder

I learned so much from my first baby that it was only natural to avoid repeating certain mistakes when my second came along. I had learned which diapers worked well and which ones would result in a flood and zombified parents trying to change bedding and clothing on a crying baby in the middle of the night. I knew the best burping methods, and my technique was quickly approaching mastery. Don’t laugh, depending on the baby, it can take a lot of skill.  

And so it continued with babies number three, four, five, and six. I learned more and more with each successive child, gradually improving my parenting skills in every possible way and learning to recognize the flaws.

As my children grew, my rules for them changed also.

There were things my older ones were allowed to do that my younger ones will not be allowed to do.

I have made mistakes and seen the consequences of those mistakes become apparent over a period of years. How could it possibly be wise to repeat those same mistakes? 

Saying I have become a better parent with the addition of each child is not another way of saying I totally screwed up on the first couple of children. Not at all. My older children are young ladies with so many beautiful qualities. I did a lot of things right with them, and I have also learned to intentionally repeat those things with each of my other children. 

RELATED: The Truth? You’re Going To Make Mistakes With Your Firstborn.

So, when my younger children ask why they can’t do something that their big sisters were allowed to do at their age, I will simply explain to them that I love them enough to use my experiences to help guide my parenting choices in order to give them the best life possible. Will they smile, hug me tightly, and tell me how much they appreciate my superior wisdom? Ha! Not a chance! 

I am prepared for an epic protest, filled with lots of arguments about what is and isn’t fair in life. 

They might have inherited some of their dramatics from me. Yes, shocking, I know. But when they protest, I will be there to sympathize with them, remembering my own childhood. I will also be there to tell them rules are rules and no matter how unfair those rules may seem, they come from a place of unconditional love. 

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Emily J. Merrick

Emily J. Merrick has a Bachelor's Degree in Family Studies from the University of Kentucky. She worked in a variety of social work and educational settings before becoming a full-time stay-at-home-mom in 2002. She and her (high-school sweetheart) husband have been together for 30 years and married for 25. Emily is a mother of six. Her third child passed away after heart surgery. Emily's five living children range in age from 19 down to 6. She ran a very successful Etsy shop from home for six years before becoming disabled in 2020. She now shares her experience through writing and enjoys time at home with her family in rural Kentucky. 

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