Dear First Born – An Apology


Dear First Born,


I’m sorry that I was so very young when you were born. I wish I had given myself the gift of time before you were conceived. Time to be immature, time to be foolish, time to be without responsibility, time to make mistakes without a baby on my hip. Babies shouldn’t raise babies.


I’m sorry I didn’t breast feed you for longer than a few weeks. I had to go back to high school and I was too young to care that much or think it mattered. I think it’s one of the reasons that I’ve had a harder time bonding with you than with your siblings. I didn’t have that precious newborn closeness of mother and babe.


I’m sorry I fed you so much juice and vanilla wafers. I didn’t know anything about nutrition.


I’m sorry that I spanked you. You were the most obedient of little people, there was really no reason to ever hit you. I was working under the false dichotomy that spanking is how you discipline children into responsible adults. I was wrong. I think this also affected our bond.


I’m sorry that I didn’t hold you more.


I’m sorry that you were so often in trouble simply for being the oldest. It’s not fair to shackle a 5 year old with the responsibility of always being a good example for the 2 year old. I’m sorry that you were robbed of the childishness entitled to little ones simply because you needed to be the big sister.


I’m sorry for fighting with your dad in front of you during the tough times.


I’m sorry that we weren’t more sympathetic to your emotional sensitivity.  We thought being harsher on you would cure you of your nervous disposition. In reality we probably made it worse. I’m sorry for every time I said that your reason for crying wasn’t good enough.


I’m sorry that so often I set a bad example and then reprimanded you for following it.


I’m sorry for being so selfish this last decade. I’m sorry for being so tired now.  I understand your situation more than you know. I was also the oldest and only girl, the helper of little brothers.  It’s not always fun, I know.


I love you. I didn’t want to send you into the world with the same hangups that I was saddled with in childhood and so often I’ve failed. You will have problems as a grown up and they’ll be partly my fault.


I’ve spent the last few years trying to repair some of the damage that I dealt in your younger years. And sometimes, when we’re laughing together, I think I may have helped undo some of the hurt. I know there are bound to be more bumps in our future as you become a teenager and adult but I promise to try to remember that love comes first.


Before judgement, before correction, before condemnation, before disappointment.  I want love to be the weapon I wield  against the troubled times.  Because I know from my own childhood that harshness doesn’t repair. Harshness widens the brokenness.  But love conquers all.


And you’re allowed to remind me when I seem to have forgotten.




Parenting is a life-long learning process. I’ve made many mistakes and have many regrets, especially from those beginning years. I share many lessons that I learned in parenting toddlers, preschoolers, and children in my book Parenting Wild Things. It contains the things I wish I had known when I first brought my sweet first-born home.





  1. Raw and beautiful. What a gift.

  2. Beautifully written.

  3. Wow, I sit here crying. I have raised my oldest (and her brother) alone; husband/dad with issues and then simply absent. I have used all the excuses, none of which are valid and I wasn’t young or immature, just selfish and tired and broken. Thank you for this reminder that love CAN cover it all as we all journey along.

    • I know the feeling of weighing with are reasons are just excuses. But most of the time I know ignorance was at the root of my mistakes.

  4. I can relate to this. I was not a teen mom but I have made TERRIBLE mistakes. Even wrote about one today!

  5. I wish I had breastfed Emily longer than 3 1/2 months. She was nursing for 30 minutes every hour and I couldn’t take it. She’s not the snuggly kid most of us hope for but even as a 2 week old she didn’t want to sleep in your arms or beside you. She wanted to be in her swing or her bed. She loved being held when she was awake so I think she may have inherited my ‘don’t bother me while I’m sleeping’ gene. I know she loves me and she knows I love her but sometimes I get angry. I raise my voice or pop her on the hand and I feel like a horrible person. In my defense though the last time I popped her hand she was about to grab hot cast iron and it was reaction, still no excuse. But I am a parent and she is the first, mistakes will be made and regrets will be had. All I can do is try and do better. I love you, Emily. So much so that is amazes me.

  6. I think about this subject all the time! I have apologized many times to my oldest. Oh so many mistakes I made, and the worst were the ones where I followed our screwed up societies idea of parenting (spanking, punishments, forced learning, routine medical procedures like vaccines with out questioning, etc.). It was because of her, my precious oldest girl that I am a better mother now! When I saw how our relationship was hurting I realized the problem was not her behavior but me and the very wrong ideas I had about parenting. THANKS TO OUR GREAT LORD He led me to better ways of being a mother and my relationship with my daughter healed. Today she is 12 and the most incredible human being I know! She is still teaching me so much and I give GOD eternal thanks for her.

  7. So beautiful.

  8. I am not wordy enough on this subject for a whole blog post, and I’m feeling kind of wacky today anyway… So here I go- I was a young mother, so I followed the current, but the one thing I feel the WORST about was staying in an abusive situation, thinking it was better for my daughter to have two parents than one. I remember vividly my ex-husband rushing at me to hit me, and my baby girl screaming in terror and running to clutch at my leg. Nothing can ever take that image from me, nor the guilt that I had put her n that situation at all. God rescued us though, and gave me the strength to leave.

  9. This is beautiful in its honesty.

  10. Thanks mom.
    I can say a lot of words about what I think is fair and what isn’t and how I feel about something. It’s if I have the guts to tell or point out the things to people.

  11. This was beautiful. And yet sad. I commend you for taking on such a responsibility at a young age. I hope there is healing and that you and your eldest continue to forge a good relationship.

  12. I think we are all misinformed when it comes to our first born… And we’re not confident enough to challenge the “knowledge” passed down to us. Bravo for creating a link up where we can spill our guilt and do better from here.

  13. Marci Ericsson says:

    I am glad that you posted this and that you are working on your relationship with you child. But when are parents going to learn that first born children need to have childhoods just like their younger siblings. I am a first born, a girl, and my parents were the best parents. I was not given life to be a role model, a surrogate parent or responsible for the actions of younger siblings. I thank God for them every day.


  1. […] to Dear First Born – An Apology @ the Bohemian Bowmans Pass it on: window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({appId: […]

  2. […] I published a post over at Bohemian Bowmans this week that was a real and honest apology to my first born. If you’re feeling brave and honest also, you have a couple more days to link-up your own […]

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