Have you ever caught yourself calling your child by the name of one of your own siblings in the same birth order position? I have, and it’s a strange experience. I caught myself doing it when my daughters were about the age my sisters were when I was a young teen, the age at which I started to consider myself grown up. My sisters are seven and ten years younger, and my daughters are about the same number of years apart as them, so somewhere that imprint of roles and identities transferred to my subconscious. Something about me being so much older, taking care of, teaching, and playing with them when they were little. A distinguishing element between my two sisters was that the older had brown hair and eyes, and the younger blonde hair and blue eyes. This reinforces the subconscious transfer, as my older daughter is brown-eyed and younger blue-eyed. I sometimes even imagine my older blonde daughter as having brown hair. And I gave my youngest almost the same names as my youngest sister, in reverse order, without even noticing it (my mom pointed it out).
I’m glad that there’s no strangeness in my sisterly relationships that might inadvertently push forward in my relationships with my daughters. There was no jealousy, negative comparisons, taking on a controlling big sister role (that I know of). On the contrary, they were fun little girls to dress up, watch grow up from the distance of years, and they became women to be admired and with whom I have much in common. Too bad we live thousands of miles apart, since they are wonderful with my children and we enjoy making music together. If those positive memories and realities influence me to look for similar good relationships with my daughters, so be it.
I also have two sons, neither of which shares a family position or physical likeness with any of my three brothers. The only strange occurrence there is that I occasionally call the family dog by my youngest son’s name, because both have a tendency to make too much noise at times. I always feel ashamed of myself when that happens.
What similar types of patterns have you noticed arising in your adulthood? How does it affect your relationships?