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Lynda Loveland: Third wheel

Posted November 19, 2014

Lynda Loveland

I had what started as a benign conversation with my seven-year-old daughter last night.

It turned into something much deeper. We were talking about her friends' families and how many kids they had. Didn’t seem like much until she said, “When I have kids, I’m only going to have two, so one doesn’t feel left out … like me.”

I could feel the Hulk-like fist plunge straight into my gut. She had the saddest, most heart wrenching look on her face. I felt sick. This is an issue we’ve been dealing with, but the way it was delivered this time made quite an impact.

A little background: Campbell, my 11-year-old, is a tomboy who loves sports and detests anything girly. Caiden, my nine-year-old, is a soccer-loving, rough-housing boy to the core kind of kid. Carys, my seven-year-old, is very girly, very social, very sensitive and doesn’t like to sweat.

You can see the dynamics here. Carys is the odd man out. She’s always nice to them, trying to win favor with them, but it doesn’t work. So now she tends to tattle on them.

It’s a vicious cycle. Carys seems to get along fine with them individually. When they’re all together, it’s a no go.

I’ve talked to the older two about it until I’m blue in the face, but their “inclusion” only lasts a short while. I tell Carys that her relationship with her siblings is a changing thing and it will have its ups and downs.

It’s not much of a consolation, but I’m kind of at a loss. I think it’s a fine line with punishing the older two, unless it’s something bad of course. I don’t want them to completely turn against their little sister.

Is this one of those things you keep a close eye on, but it just sort of works itself out?

Lynda is the mom of three and a reporter and anchor for WRAL-TV and Fox 50 morning news. Find her here on Thursdays and on her Facebook page.


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  • dyercl Nov 25, 2014

    The more you defend "the baby," the more the older ones will resent her. Let the kids work it out unless it comes to blows. Each one is special - the oldest, the youngest, the boy. Just because they were born into the same family does not make them friends. Make sure each has access to friends their own age.

  • kathybenglish Nov 25, 2014

    Maybe if Carys could be encouraged to become proficient at something other than sports as her sister and brother probably are, but something that also involves the entire family going along to watch performances or competitions...I expect she goes to cheer on her sister and brother...they can do the same for her...perhaps dance (CC & Co Dance), a musical instrument, acting, or Upward Cheerleading....By doing so, she would develop her "own thing", meet friends with common interests which would make her not as dependent on validation from her siblings, and perhaps raise her "cred" to a higher level with them when she excels at something they don't! And another plus, it would keep her busy and perhaps a little more focused on her own accomplishments and less on what her brother and sister are achieving. Good luck...a parent who cares enough to ask for input and advice goes a long way towards a remedy.

  • raleighboy524 Nov 21, 2014

    "I think it’s a fine line with punishing the older two, unless it’s something bad of course. I don’t want them to completely turn against their little sister."

    Why in the world would you even think of punishing the other 2? Why not devote more parental attention to the youngest to inspire the older ones to treat her better? The goal is to make her feel special, not to make your other 2 feel less special. My goodness.

  • jpittard2 Nov 21, 2014

    There are 14 and 13 years between my older ones and younger one. At first, he was a "Chick magnet" so my older son always wanted him with him but that ended (around 2 years of age). Our daughter loved every moment with the younger one until at 2, he deleted a major English project the weekend before it was due. Their relationship was never the same! So, we found a friend with the with the same interests that went to his preschool with him. They were velcroed to each other for 7 years until Ray moved away. Ray also had 2 much older siblings! He found the next friend as Ray was moving. The relationship with his siblings has changed and he is now close to them but it took awhile. Good luck and good hunting for the friend!

  • ewoods112 Nov 20, 2014

    Ah ...girls...As the oldest of three and four years apart from the other two who were 18 months apart, I can tell you the girls will never be best friends. As the mother of boys, I can tell you that teenage boys are very protective of their younger sisters and in about three years she will be complaining that he won't leave her alone and interferes with all her friendships, especially those with boys. I always wanted my younger sisters to include me until I was about 15 and then I didn't know them. Girls launch faster than boys and they are much meaner. Girly girls always find friends but it's hard when you are the youngest and have nobody at home to play with on winter nights. The cat gets a lot of quality time but this too shall pass...then main thing is to try and see the special things in each and let them know their value - My sisters are still close and I always wish I was a part of that but it also made me stronger -

  • Karen Orndorff Nov 20, 2014
    user avatar

    To be honest the younger ones will work this out. Most cases the older sibling will be far away for most of her life, there is just too many years between and do not have much in common. Hope your situation works out differently. My situation is my sister is 6 years older and feels she has nothing in common with me and always has made me feel odd person out.

  • Bradley07 Nov 20, 2014

    I remember going through that as a child, what my mom did was have me help her do things. I was always one to want to learn new things so she showed me sewing, and cooking, (girl things.etc) I didn't feel left out & was okay when I didn't have to play basketball with my sisters. :)

  • Killian Nov 20, 2014

    This can be tough when they're young. I had three as well and my youngest used to get left out. But forced inclusion breeds resentment. Instead, foster other relationships for Carys. Show how cool she is in her own right. She doesn't need to be just like her sisters to be worthy of attention.

    It'll pay off later. Celebrate each kid's individuality and they come to appreciate it. Now, my kids are 22, 21, and 19 and they are amazingly close.