Could siblings be any more different?
Marlon marvels at his daughters’ differences.
(Getty Images)
When, Hannah, my first born came into the world, it was without a doubt the most amazing experience of my life. She was perfect in every way… and as she developed and grew, she continued to amaze and astound me.

She was bright, a quick learner, brilliant at pre-school, loved by all who met her, and most importantly (to me that is), she listened to me and always did what I told her to do. She was also able to process information and make informed decisions. Usually the right ones! So when Maddison came along 6 years later, I was anticipating the event with glee and boundless joy, for surely, God was sending me another little well-behaved angel?

All was well at first, the birth was a breeze, she was a beautiful baby and just perfect. Until… she began to develop... rather quickly…

I used to think that Hannah was a bright spark; boy was I in for a surprise. Maddison walked sooner, talked sooner, and developed a serious attitude before the ripe old age of 1-and-a-half. Soon she earned the nickname, Osama-bin-Maddison.

As a parent we all think our kids are the best thing since sliced cheese. I had the amazing experience with Hannah, and naively thought that all my kids would be well-disciplined little angels. Maddison clearly had other ideas.

With Hannah I would say “baby, don’t put your fingers in the plug socket, you’ll shock and die and then daddy will miss you terribly.” Hannah’s response (at age 1-and-a-half) would be to look at me with concern, consider what I had just said, and then smile with understanding and she would literally never do it again. Maddison looks at me with concern, looks back at the socket, then back at me, smiles adorably with understanding and then tries to stick her finger in the socket again. Why me, Lord?

I often find myself a bewitched captive at her antics. She shamelessly uses emotional blackmail, crocodile tears and anything in her already impressive arsenal of persuaders to get her way.

With Hannah, the worst form of discipline constituted a stern look and a gentle telling off. Bliksem! try that with Maddison and she literally laughs at you. Reluctantly I’ve had to introduce spanking. She was so shocked when I actually spanked her (two light taps on her bottom) that the mere mention of it is often enough to stop her from blowing up the house.

(Oh, I kid you not. One day we went out to spend the day at the zoo, we’d been away for several hours. When we got back, the kitchen was clogged up with thick toxic smoke. Little Osama had turned on several of the stove’s plates before we left and the plastic rice colander had melted down to a disgusting gooey mess. Heaven knows what would have happened if we had come home a few hours later.)

It has been quite an adjustment for me as a parent to come to terms with my kids’ absolutely diverse personalities. I’ve stopped trying to deal with Maddison the way I dealt with Hannah. Instead I try different approaches and stick with the ones that have the best results. I must say, persistence and praise works best, but thank the lord for the threat of spanking, for without it, I’m not sure how I’d cope.

How do you deal with your children being complete opposites? Do you have a secret weapon to help control your kids?

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