Here’s a quick question. Imagine two siblings born to the same parents, and living in the same house. Do you think they’d get the same kind of parenting, same food, same toys, and navigate situations in a similar manner?
Well, according to me, they will never be the same. Before you roll your eyes and try finding a point to argue, let me tell you that I come with a research-backed example.
Let's take my cousins. They're two brothers, one’s aged 10 and the other, 11. When their mum asks them to finish a certain chore (or raises her voice so they shut their tablets and proceed towards homework), they have very, very different reactions.
They may have grown up in the same house, but they will never have the same environment. Their thinking can be shaped very differently and how they adapt can also change depending on their individual interactions with their parents. For example, when the older sibling was born, the parents may have been going through a financial crisis and moving houses and jobs to find stability; versus when their younger child was born, they were settled in high paying jobs and living in a house that they own.
Their parenting styles - even if it had not been deliberate - would definitely be different from the two. The stress levels that the mother may have faced in one pregnancy may have not been the same as that she faced in the second. The amount of help the father could provide may also have been different.
It’s not just this one singular case. Even if eight children are born to the same woman, they will never have the same mother owing to a shift in temperament. That means, their emotional state would have varied in every situation. For example, the anxiety you face with your first child versus the calmness you feel with your third one.
This will in turn lead them to have various perspectives on their mother. For example, the first child (who unfortunately has been controlled a lot), may have had a lot of restrictions placed on them leading to resentment towards the mother, but the third child (who ended up getting more independence) may think of the same woman as a ‘very open’ parent.
Let’s not forget that along with temperament, also come gender roles. There are so many ways that parenting can differ because of a child’s gender. How, while an Indian girl may have been parented with a lot of restrictions, solely with the intention of getting her married off, whereas an Indian boy would have been parented and trained to take over the house from a very young age. Patriarchy too has played a very huge role in our upbringing. How every son and daughter would have been parented with extra love or with extra strictness. How parents react to a male child vs. a female child can be independent of each other. They may or may not react like this on purpose, but how a father would parent a female child would not be the same as how he would a male child. We have these contrasting ways of nurturing children and our emotional reactions are different with each of them.
I guess it's just an interesting thing to ponder over, how being exposed to the same people and same situations can make us behave in so many different ways. How we interact and learn to steer our ways based on our experiences is so unconscious that we never understand why we behaved the way we did.
Think about it: how much of your behaviour is replicated? How many patterns have you learned or want to unlearn? That’s an answer only time will tell.
Meet the Author
Shipra's main areas of focus are the connections between the body and mind. She uses a trauma-informed & needs-based approach to counselling. Shipra believes in always trying to create a healthy balance between work and life.She also loves sunsets, beaches, kittens, chai and cooking. Growing plants is her form of grounding, and she’s found to resort to Disney or the Mamma Mia soundtrack when everything else is spiraling.
Shipra Parswani, Psychologist