DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a 3-year-old boy and a 2-month-old daughter. Like any proud parent, I love the chance to show off my children and the attention we receive in supermarkets, church, the mall, etc.
People constantly stop to comment on "that adorable baby." They ask her age, who she looks like, how much she weighed at birth ... whatever is on their minds. I'm always happy to talk, but I dread it now because they ignore my son. Through the interviews, his little face is bright and interested, but his sweet face crumples when he realizes that, yet again, no one notices him. It breaks my heart to see him hurt like that.
Please remind your readers that children of all ages have feelings. He's so proud of being the big brother, and he would love to tell anyone about her -- if only they would ask him. Even one question directed to him would make his day. It's hard for a child suddenly to go from being the only child to invisible when a baby is around.
Friends who stopped by with gifts for the baby were no different. They give him a pat on the head and say, "No, this is for your sister." I anticipated that and kept little gifts wrapped for him in case visitors forgot him, but it's not the same. Anything, even a balloon meant especially for him, would have made his day.
Older children don't need anything expensive; they just want to know they are remembered. A little gesture would mean the world and might prevent some deep-rooted sibling resentment. -- OLDEST SIBLING, TOO
DEAR OLDEST SIBLING: Thank you for a wonderful letter. Most people don't mean to be unkind to the older children -- they just forget that big brother or big sister still need a little attention, too. Your letter should jog their memories, but please don't leave it up to strangers or acquaintances to include the older children. Take it upon yourself to include them in your conversations and encourage them to speak up. It will help them to develop social skills.