This was on our local news the other night and I’ve thought about it before and commented on it on another blog quite some time ago. Do we play favorites with our children? Do we treat them fairly?
I will admit that my boys are as different as night and day. My oldest is the more serious one. He takes everything to heart and has thin skin, just like I do. My youngest seems to go with the flow and was clownish and acted silly and on impulse. My oldest didn’t get into trouble at all at school while my youngest…..that’s another story. I was once sitting at a conference for my oldest and I wondered deep inside if the teacher even knew who our son was. EVERYONE knew who our youngest son was.
I think for me, that my oldest Jason, is so much like me and that’s why we fought all the time. He knew everything there was to do to “piss me off” and hit all the right buttons. I remember one day that I got a call that Toby, my youngest, was getting kicked off the bus for a week. I was furious with him. Jason got home from school before Toby and could clearly see how mad I was. He kept trying to talk to me and I told him I was very upset and to just go watch TV or go do something. He took it upon himself to defend his brother. I kept saying, Jason knock it off and let me think. Well, by the time Toby got home, I was more mad at Jason than I was at Toby. It’s just the way he was.
Given that said, I don’t feel I played favorites. I love them both as much as the other but there were times in my life that at one point or the other, one was so much easier to be around than the other. Jason liked to tick people off and Toby only wanted to make people laugh. Roles reversed at times and Jason was easier. I guess what I’m trying to say is that at times, you do treat your kids differently but I don’t think it makes you love them differently. It only means your human and you react to things differently. Jason was so much easier to deal with school wise. He didn’t cause any problems. Toby was just so clownish and impish and silly and really irritated his teachers.
So, what about you? Are your kids different and did it affect how you treated them at times?
I do not believe that we play favourites with the children however I do realise that we treat our youngest different from the 5 year old. I feel that is because we have learnt from mistakes that we made with our first child and so have put into practice those lessons.
Ultimately each child will and should be treated / handled slightly differently as they are not carbon copies of each other. Both have unique personalities, wants and needs.
That is why you can honestly say to each child “I love you with all my heart”, as they bring different things into your life.
My girls are as different as night and day. They truly have totally different needs, and I often wonder if they feel badly when one daughter sees the other getting unique treatment.
When it comes to affection – my older daughter is more insecure and takes a longer time to adapt to changes, so I need to hold her more and give her more frequent one-on-one attention. The younger easily entertains herself. She gets less hands-on attention throughout the day, but gets her individual hugs and such after big sis goes to bed. Sometimes I wonder if she feels sad to see me holding sis more often, or if sis feels bad hearing me and the wee one having our nightly “sleepy huggy” session without her. But I feel it has to be this way.
When it comes to discipline, the girls have entirely different issues. My older daughter is remarkably obedient for her age, but she is possessive and whiney and can work herself up to a long, high-pitched protest. Wee one is quiet and peaceful but very “single-minded” which usually means stubborn. When someone is breaking a rule, the other watches carefully to see what I’m going to do about it. I can’t always discipline them both the same way, because that simply would not work on one child or the other. I also have to adjust for their ages – they may not understand the difference three months makes, but it does matter. And even regardless of age, I can’t expect the same behavior standards from both girls – they are simply wired differently.
And about interests. My older daughter is a tiny version of me in so many ways. The wee one is the opposite. Which means that, since opposites attract, there will be times I will connect better with wee one – but there will also be times when I have more empathy for the elder, because I can more fully understand where she’s coming from.
All that said, I love each of my daughters with an infinite love, and since infinity is not measurable, the question of “equal” love is moot. But, chances are, they will not understand that until they are well past their teenage years. Meanwhile, I expect to hear words like “unfair” a lot once the girls are verbal.
It’s challenging to have kids with very different personalities, but I thank God for it, because I believe it will increase the chances that they will be good friends. Already they give each other so much. I feel it more than makes up for any “discrepancies” in the way I treat them.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is that at times, you do treat your kids differently but I don’t think it makes you love them differently. It only means your human and you react to things differently.”
I agree with this.
All 4 of my kids are as different as night and day. I handle each of them differently according to their personalities and their needs. My oldest daughter is very independent. She is the one who pushes me away and we fight alot because we are so much alike. My youngest daughter is VERY emotional and needs constant affection else her feelings are hurt. My oldest son is all boy and while he needs me for some things there are other things he prefers his daddy for. The youngest boy is just still a “baby”. His personality is still building and because of his age he requires more time from me than the others do.. I dont think I favor one over the other. I just react to each of them according to what they need from me.
You know it is difficult. Some children need more attention than others. Some need more financial resources. It doesn’t mean that they are favored. It simply means that they need more in that area.
Now of course I have heard that there are cases where a child is favored over the other. I wonder to myself how that is possible. Still, everyone is different I suppose. We are all individuals and some you simply like more than others. Some you just have personality clashes with (usually the ones that are most like you).
Anyway…. its an interesting topic. Thank you for your thoughts.
We have to remember kids are individuals. What works with one may not work with another. Though we may have to use different disciplinary techniques with each of our kids, I think the most important thing is that we make sure they KNOW we love them, no matter what.
My daughter asks me if I love her and her brother the same and I tell her of course!
My daughter also wants to know if I love our dog Oswald more than her and her brother. I tell her no, I love them all the same.
just kidding of course!
Wow, another good one Joy. I have 4 wonderful girls. I will say that they all have thier own personalities and this means that depending on the situation good or bad I have to handle them all differently. This doesn’t mean that I favor one more than the other it just means that I have to be careful of how I deal with each of them. With my older one I do come down harder on her as she is 17 and I expect her to make good judgement calls. I love them and treat them all the same and hope that they see that.
yes we pick favorites. Is it on purpose? probably not. But thats life. I never saw it until my friend just became a step dad. He has a car he got from his dad and he’s going to give it to his son not step son, because it’s a father son thing. How should his stepson feel, he won’t understand why things are the way they are until he’s old enough to not let it bother him. Step parents are going to treat there biological kids different. My step dad has been the only dad I know and I love him to death, but we are completely different people. It’s not his fault or mine were just different. So where he might treat us differently it’s not out of love it’s just a different kind of connection. But being the step sibling we just take it personally sometimes
I only have one child so far so from the parenting point of view, I’m biased. My own childhood was different. My little brother was always in so much trouble that he got all the attention. It used to make me mad but since I’ve grown I realized that he put my parents through hell and they only did their best. The didn’t know any different and it didn’t create any big issues for me since I knew they loved me.