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Why are my two daughters so different?


IrmaJean
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I was outside last night with my two daughters, waiting for the annual fireworks display. We'd taken cover at a local ice cream shop where the view would be wonderful, but where we could also make a quick getaway when the show had ended. There was a bouncy bounce and my youngest wanted to play inside. There were three other boys there...about her age...and she went right up to them and introduced herself. Soon all 4 kids were having fun, being carefree, chatting it up and laughing. The boys even requested she come back when she stepped out for a moment. My eldest daughter and I were sitting on the car waiting for the show. E glanced over at her sister, looked back to me and asked sadly, "How does she do that?"

My girls are polar opposite. My 8 year old has many friends and is very social and outgoing. She is a nonstop chatterbox. When we go out in town it seems she knows more people than I do. :) My 14 year old is painfully shy and has great difficulty interacting. Out in public she is almost always silent. How could they be so different? Genetics? Did I make more mistakes with my eldest daughter? Is my youngest healthier now because I have been healthier? Is it some combination of everything? Either way, it tugged at my heart...:)

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Me and my sister are complete opposites...but with some similarities thrown in. (if that makes sense!) But I think as we've had the same upbringing it's mostly genetic. I look quite like my Mum, whereas my sister takes after my Dad. We were all together at the weekend and me and my Mum are chatting away and my sister and Dad are over the other side of the room chatting about something else! Whereas I dont talk to my Dad!

Do you think there was any differences in their upbringing? My Mum sometimes says that they learnt a bit from bringing up my sister and maybe did things a bit differently. And I bet there are a lot of statistics on older/middle/younger children and their personalities. I was the younger and was louder as a child, I think research says that is common and puts it down to the younger trying to become centre of attention (me? never!!)

But now as we grow up my sister is very settled and happy with a nice quiet man. And they have a lovely life.

I read a book recently about highly sensitive people and there was a book about nurturing highly sensitve children...not sure if that would be of any interest.

Anyway....as always....hope that made some sense!!

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IrmaJean,

I think your daughters are just two different people. Period. That said, does your older daughter find her shyness problematic???? Is she would like to learn some assertiveness skills or some skills to become more extraverted, she could see someone to develop those things.

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I agree,they are just different people. My great-grandmother had 14 children and used to comment on no two being the same, although some may be have been more similar. Personalities, it's all very nebulous isn't. I think that being introverted or extroverted is innate to the person, not something one learns. It's how we are wired. This can be modified and worked on with age, but the naturally tendency probably always remains, at least it does with me...

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I was outside last night with my two daughters, waiting for the annual fireworks display. We'd taken cover at a local ice cream shop where the view would be wonderful, but where we could also make a quick getaway when the show had ended. There was a bouncy bounce and my youngest wanted to play inside. There were three other boys there...about her age...and she went right up to them and introduced herself. Soon all 4 kids were having fun, being carefree, chatting it up and laughing. The boys even requested she come back when she stepped out for a moment. My eldest daughter and I were sitting on the car waiting for the show. E glanced over at her sister, looked back to me and asked sadly, "How does she do that?"

My girls are polar opposite. My 8 year old has many friends and is very social and outgoing. She is a nonstop chatterbox. When we go out in town it seems she knows more people than I do. :) My 14 year old is painfully shy and has great difficulty interacting. Out in public she is almost always silent. How could they be so different? Genetics? Did I make more mistakes with my eldest daughter? Is my youngest healthier now because I have been healthier? Is it some combination of everything? Either way, it tugged at my heart...:)

One possible factor is birth order...if your 14 year-old had been raised with an older sister whos to say she wouldn't be more like the eight year-old? So in a sense, we are all raised in a different family than any of our siblings simply because each new sibling changes many of the dynamics of the family as a whole. IMO

Also as Symora has already said, each of us are individuals. I have read more than one academic article suggesting that our basic personality TYPE is set in-utero....who knows?

However, there are so many other variables it is probably impossible to nail down precisely This is just my opinion but I suspect that if the 8 year-old woke up tomorrow morning with a little brother, or a twin, or two older sisters, etc, her personality would change to reflect her new situation while still retaining the BASIC personality she was born with. anyways, be happy if she is outgoing and sociable. It can be and frequently is a sign of health (Most severly abused kids are not out-going and are very fearful of stangers)

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Thanks everyone. I do wish things were simple with my eldest, but her behaviors have been problematic. Her basic temperament is mine...all of the same difficulties, though I think more extreme. Some teachers and my therapist (whom she saw for a while, but never spoke to) suspected PDD-NOS or Aspergers. I really do not think so. I think more along the lines of something like selective mutism. Either way, what matters is helping her to find her way. She seems less affected by the struggle, though her not having a problem with it lends more to her dependency on me. She tells me kids will come up to her and poke her and ask her if she'll talk...as if her talking was some kind of an event. She seems to shrug this type of stuff off. My problem is feeling so protective of her, which I know is not at all helpful to her. It comes so naturally to me that I have to be extremely aware of my behaviors in order to turn them down.

I admit it is sometimes very awkward for me to have such an extroverted child as well. I think A is doing me much good, though, because she forces me to challenge myself all of the time.

As for E, I'd like to think that she benefits from seeing me face my fears. I had such an intense and immediate bond with her after birth, I can't help wondering if she had a strong sense of my extreme anxiety during the early years of her life. If I were to guess, I'd guess that she was more affected because she was naturally more sensitive. So probably both genetic and environmental factors played a part in her development. I just want to do right by her and knowing how doesn't always come naturally.

I just wanted to edit to add that I also have an 18 year old son so E is a middle child.

Edited by IrmaJean
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I guess I can't really comment as I don't have children. I always felt looking after myself was enough for me!! So being a parent (a good one) is such a selfless thing to do. And there is no good training manual as far as I'm aware, so it's not easy.

The while nature/nuture debate will always rage. But it does sound like it's just natural personality traits. Children are much stronger than we think a lot of the time.

As I said before in company I was comfortable with I was quite extroverted. But with strangers I could be painfully shy. I'm much the same now. And because my Mum is not a people person I didn't get much practice. I am always a bit envious of my friend. Here family always had a house full growing up and she will go up and talk to anyone about anything. And I sit and can't work out how she does it. Does she do any groups or is there anything she'd be interested in? Drama groups for example.

I'm sure you do all the right things and I don't think you should feel you have done anything wrong. Like I say I'm not really a good one to comment!

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Thanks, Calla. I appreciate your thoughts. :)

E is an awesome artist (spoken like a parent :)) so this is her main hobby. She does have one very good friend that has been a friend for many years. High school is starting in the fall, so I'm probably starting to fret about that. She struggles with change. Problem is trying to turn down my own worrying so she doesn't sense it. Can't protect them forever. *tells self*

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That book maybe of interest to you, not sure if you're into self help books. But being an artist and a bit introverted does sound like a highly sensitive person to me. Which is a beautiful thing to be. We are the priestly advisors to the warrior kings (thats how I like to look at it after reading it somewhere) But I appreciate not every theory is for everyone.

Being an artist and being able to express through that is an amazing thing.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks, Calla. I appreciate your thoughts. :)

E is an awesome artist (spoken like a parent :() so this is her main hobby. She does have one very good friend that has been a friend for many years. High school is starting in the fall, so I'm probably starting to fret about that. She struggles with change. Problem is trying to turn down my own worrying so she doesn't sense it. Can't protect them forever. *tells self*

When I was in school I found the artistic kids, and still true as adults today, the most socially awkward because they were so creative; their thoughts were so much more than what an "average" kid could handle. I just think this is how the brain works. Extroverts do well in sales and working with the public and introverts are either artists or analysts. I know it isn't that simple as I described, but you are describing E as a typical artitistic kid. I hope she learns to embrace this! Oh, and my brother and I are TOTAL opposites. Raised the same way, in the same home and with the same parents. Strangers would never guess we were related we are so opposite!

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Guest GingerSnap

Irma Jean: I was the oldest child in my family - my brother 3 years younger. Your older daughter sounds a lot like I was. What actually changed me or at least was the start, was getting a work-study job at the college library - this was something not me but I needed the money and the choices were not many. When I had to interact with peers, it got easier everyday. I and a couple friends were candidates for shyest girl in the class in high school (I did not win, a friend did) and now, not one single person believes that was even possible and for years now, that has been the situation "You shy? No way." Also, I had a girl cousin who had 3 younger siblings and she was always telling my parents not to worry because she was the same way - we all said "No way!" If your daughter could maybe volunteer for a position that got her out there, maybe the tide would turn earlier than it did for me.

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My brother was the opposite of me- he was a social butterfly and I would overthink every word I said. We were only a year and a half apart. I dont think it's me parents "fault" that we were liek that, its probably the natural way things go, a balance. My brother and I had personalities that complimented eachother.

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I have often wondered if birth order might have something to do with personality differences. I am the eldest of three sisters. The youngest and I are polar opposites. For example I have always been a bit socially inept but did very well at school. The youngest is a social genius but abismal at school work, and the middle one is somewhere in-between in all aspects!

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Im the oldest and the most reserved, the younger are more socialable too. maybe its something do to with the roles we end up playing as the elder or younger. Also the difference in treatment from parents. I thinkt that treatment is inevitable though, its also has to do with roles, and therefore its not their fault.

Edited by nathan
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