I am a firm believer that most families have an established “pecking order” when it comes to the kids. I know my family has one, and so does B’s. It’s just very evident on both sides of our families – there is absolutely no mistake about it. It bothers me at times, but at other times, I could care less. What I’ve found, though, is that it’s not just a single “pecking order” that exists in each family – I think each parent often times has their own “pecking order.”
Here’s how it is in my family:
- Overall – my older sister gets priority. If my parents had had to pick one kid to save in a fire – they would have both run to her room, leaving my little sister and me to fend for ourselves. My little sister and I would have saved each other, and all of the pets, and we would have all lived happily every after. HA!
- For my dad – I come next, then my little sister
- For my mom – my little sister comes next, then me
This is how it has always been in our family – for as long as I can remember. I’ve had enough counseling/therapy to be able to accept that this is never going to change, and that it’s OK. I really am OK with it – even though I’m not the favorite. 😉
What I hadn’t come to realize, however, is that there is a “pecking order” with the grand kids as well. My little sister had warned me about this, and I think in the back of my mind, I always knew it was going to be the case – but I was just hoping it wouldn’t be. What is different, though, is that the “pecking order” with the grand kids defaults back to what it was for us – so it’s not nearly as personal as it is for us kids. My older sister’s kids get oodles of my parents’ time because they’re my older sister’s kids. It’s that simple. Again – I have to accept it.
What I have thought through, though, and accepted is that I do not need to expose my children to this. My younger sister and I had to deal with this while we were growing up because we were under our parents’ roof – there was no place to go if we said, “hey, this isn’t right, we’re out of here.” Sure, we had each other, but selling lemonade or home-made dog treats (my little sister’s business that actually did quite well!) wasn’t going to pay the bills. So we had to stick it out and just roll with it.
What is so liberating to me is that our children do not need to roll with it.
It is my job, as the parent of my children, to tell my parents, “hey, this isn’t right, we’re out of here.” It’s a hard thing to say because as much as I’ve grown up over the last several years – I still fear my
parents dad in a way. Isn’t that weird? I think that’s weird! When my dad does or says something mean-spirited and nasty, it takes everything in me to tell him not to treat me that way. (I come from a long line of passionate, over-sharing, aggressive people. You may be startled to read that my dad says mean-spirited things, but honestly, we’re used to it and once dealt with, it just rolls off our backs.) Confronting my parents is HARD. I am a “pleaser” and rocking the boat is not my favorite thing to do – but I will do it if my husband, my child, or I am being treated with disrespect.
What always surprises me about myself is that when drama goes down in B’s family, I say things like, “you just need to call her and say this, that, and the other.” I say it as though it would be so easy for me to do that myself with my own family. I will eventually do that with my own family when needed, but not without lots of planning, prepping, stressing, crying, and phone calls with my sisters first. HA!
What is the point of this post? I really don’t know. What I do know is that both B and I have had to deal with our families’ “pecking orders” in the last 4 days. It started with his family, then continued with my own late last night. Totally unrelated. Neither situation is resolved. I am completely unsettled by both, to say the very least. I think I started tackling the one with my dad today because I’ve spent several days telling B and my friends that I don’t let my family treat us poorly and that I try to deal with things head-on when they happen. Then something happened last night with my dad and I figured I better eat my own dog food. There are so many things I want to say to both sides of the family, but as I have told B, I don’t have a “dog in (his family’s) fight.” And in my family’s situation – I am just plain scared. I don’t want to upset my dad because at the end of the day, no matter how poorly my dad treated me, I don’t want to cause a war over something that is never going to change.
Will our own little family have a “pecking order?” Oh God, I hope not. But you know, the truth is, it probably will. What I hope, though, is that if there is one, that we will realize it very early and do everything we can to remedy it. I mean – we know first hand what it’s like to NOT be at the top of the “pecking order.” We know how awful it can feel to be the ones who always have to make concessions to accommodate one or more of our siblings. Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, B and I can learn from this and treat our children with the love, equality, and respect that they deserve, throughout their entire lives with us.
That is my hope, anyway.
June 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm
Hm… this is so interesting to read. I don’t think there was a pecking order in my family, but I’m the oldest, so do I just not see it? I don’t think so (I hope not!) but interesting nonetheless…I’ll be emailing my siblings tonight!
July 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm
From reading your blog, I doubt your family has a pecking order. 😉 You all seem to like each other very much!
July 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm
I wrote about something similar myself recently and was pointed to this post in the comments (I’m surprised I missed it– sometimes I skim my Google Reader too fast). I really like how you sorted out the situation here; it gave me a different perspective on considering my own family and how I fit in there. It also made me think of the damage a pecking order can do– my grandfather’s mother set him against his twin brothers, saying he could never trust them; he then turned on how own oldest two sons when he had kids and strongly favored the younger two. All this set in motion by my great-grandmother maybe 80 years ago, and even though she and my grandfather are both long dead, a huge family rift and some serious issues remain for the rest of us. It’s really very sad.
July 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm
Families are amazing things. AMAZING. I find some families’ abilities to hold grudges to be EPIC.