How I Prepared My Kids For The Coming of Their New Half Brother
My daughters, Zoe and Ziya, are 9 and 8 years old, respectively. For years, they have been used to playing with just each other at home. They never had to deal with a baby on a day-to-day basis. So, when I found out I was pregnant with Ziggy, I was concerned about how they will react. I knew they wanted a baby brother but since their dad and I are separated and they now have a stepdad, it made the set up a bit more complicated. I had to think of ways to prepare them for Ziggy's arrival. Here are some tips that worked:
Explain their new roles. I had to explain to them that being a big sister means that they have to be responsible for the baby and that they have to help take care of him. They've always been responsible kids so I didn't think helping with the baby will be a problem and I was right. Whenever I need help with Ziggy, one or both of them will hurry to assist me, sometimes without even being asked. Aside from that, I also had to explain the difference between sister and brother, half sister and half brother as well as stepsister and stepbrother. Since they have stepsisters, from their dad's side, they knew what "step" meant. But it became quite challenging for Ziya to understand what "half" meant. The most important thing that I explained, though, is that it shouldn't matter whether the person is a full, half or step sibling. They're all siblings, which mean they all have to love each other equally.
Explain the differences in surnames. My girls use their dad’s surname. I had to explain why Ziggy will have a different one. Zoe didn't really mind but Ziya did. She became a bit jealous because Ziggy and I will have the same surname someday when I get married to their stepdad. She felt that she and Zoe will be left out. I had to explain that names are just that and it will not change the fact that we are family and that I will always be their mom no matter what.
Include them in the baby preparations. Their stepdad and I made sure we included them in all the planning, from helping us choose Ziggy's name to buying all the baby stuff and fixing the nursery.
Update them about the growing baby. I subscribed to the Whattoexpect.com newsletter, which emails explanations on what's happening to the baby inside the womb on a weekly basis. I'd read the newsletters to them and show them the photos, which proved to be really helpful.
Take them to the OB-Gyne visits. The first time we went to the doctor with the girls was also the first time we heard Ziggy's heart beating. They found it amazing. They were also in awe when they watched the 3D/4D ultrasound being done because they saw Ziggy's face, arms and legs moving. That was when we found out we’ll be having a boy, which made them even more excited.
Always reassure them and keep communication lines open. We made sure that they know they can come to us with their concerns and to answer their questions as best we could. What they really need is the assurance that even with the new addition to the family, we will still have time for them and that it won’t change the fact that we love them. I guess these tips worked. We are now one happy blended family.
Janice Lim is presently a new work-at-home mom to three kids. Having worked full-time for years as a marketing and events management professional, she is now trying to get used to managing a blended family, staying home with the kids, while trying to make a career out of blogging and writing. Visit her blog, Roller Coaster Ride, to read more of her mom adventures.