Parenting (May, 2024)

by Melanie Sisinni

For three years, Stella Marie enjoyed her time as an only child until her sister was born, which turned her world upside-down. Sharing attention was a big adjustment for Stella. While she loves Gianna, we could tell she wasn’t happy with sharing the spotlight. We worked hard to make sure Stella had one-on-one time to do things with us. This was much easier when we had man-to-man parenting coverage, one parent for each child. It wasn’t difficult for one of us to stay home with Gianna while the other took Stella with them to run errands or for a car ride

Luca and Gianna were only separated in age by about a year and a half, and I had immense feelings of guilt when he was born. In my eyes, at one and a half, Gianna was still a baby, and now her time in the “spotlight,” so to speak, was cut short by her little brother. Though she didn’t seem to mind, and I knew she would never remember life without him, I still wanted her to see that she was important and that we loved being with her.

Admittedly, it is more challenging to give all three kids individual attention. We’re spread thin these days, and most of the time, it’s hard not to treat the children as divisions of a group, whether that’s all three of them together, just the two girls, or “the babies.”

We still try to do things with them individually. Luca goes to swim lessons with me while the girls are at school. Gianna loves her Saturday morning breakfasts with Dad. Stella loves the special privilege of staying up later than Luca and Gianna and hanging out with the grownups when we have people over. Does it happen all the time? No. We do our best to show our kids they are each important, unique and special every day; though the gestures may be small, we hope they are meaningful. It should also be noted that you don’t have to spend money to show your kids their value and worth as an individual family member.

When we give Stella extra responsibility, like helping her brother or sister with their coat, she feels important, and her self-esteem boost from a job well done is evident. When we ask Gianna to clean her room (which she is oddly good at) and “ooh” and “ahh” over her accomplishments, she knows she’s done her part to help and leaves her room with a little smile on her face. When I’m making lunch for the kids, and I let Luca dump the cheese in the bowl for Mac and Cheese, he’s happy because he helped make the food he and his sisters are eating, even at one and a half.

Like our relationships with our kids, everyone’s relationship with God is different. Everyone works on it and shows their love and devotion in different ways, and if you don’t know what that looks like for you yet, you aren’t alone. Is there anything you can do to show God’s love to others? Just like with children, sometimes the simple gestures mean the most. Can you open the door for someone who looks like they have their hands full? Can you do an extra chore around the house to make things easier for someone? Take time daily to work on your unique, individual relationship with God. You won’t regret it.