Treating children equally

scalesThis 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?

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20 Responses to Treating children equally

  1. SKL says:

    My kids are totally different. I can expect a lot more from one than the other on any given thing. Sometimes I have to take a hard line with one that unfortunately affects the other. Because they are so close in age, I can’t overtly set different rules for each. I have to decide on a case-by-case basis how I’ll react, and yes, it does sometimes depend on who is being troublesome.

    I’m sure my kids will hate me for this when they are in their teens, but if they ever have kids of their own, they will appreciate my approaches.

  2. pammy wammy says:

    I dont play favorites.As you said they are all different and unique in there own way.I love them all the same amount,yet in different ways,cause they are different.They each bring something xciting and different to my life.

  3. Morocco says:

    As a stepmom and a mom, this is something I worked hard not to do. Kids notice the smallest things. Sometimes while fixing snacks I would intentionally give my stepsons the servings that “looked” fuller as I did not want them feeling slighted in the least. My son was never bothered by this because he knew that I was trying to make them comfortable. Eventually I moved on to placing their serving on the counter and let the first person get the “biggest” item.

    I also like SKL’s idea of a case-by-case basis. We are all human and I’m sure that sometimes we intentionally play this game. I agree Joy that certain children/people are more likable at times than others and are easier to swallow. Case in point, my “favorite” brother is mellow, kind, and sweet. My least favorite brother is rude, lazy, crazy, and immature. I love them both for obvious reasons, but its not a hard call to make on which I prefer to be around.

    As a teacher, I do have many “favorites”, but again, I work to make it unnoticable. I am actually less lenient on the students I like the most.

  4. Just a Mom says:

    My girls are very different from each other and the 7 year age difference between them is a factor too. My oldest one knows how to push all my buttons and she feels it is her job to push them all often! My youngest one is a little mini me so we tend to like to hang out together.
    I will say that I do treat them different because they are so different. This does not mean I have a favorite. They both have good things about them and they both have bad things about them. When they tick me off they get treated equally!
    They both love to come to me with drawings and try to make me choose one. I tell them I like them both and that if they try to make a living at drawing they will starve together! 🙂

  5. starlaschat says:

    My Parents went out of their way to try and treat my brother and I equally. Calling me their #1 Daughter and him the #1 Son. Of course there were only 2 of us. I don’t know if he felt we were treated equal or not. Maybe at times they favored one of the other, I’m not sure.

  6. tessa says:

    I like hearing about your kids growing up, Joy! Get to know them better. Different people, diff. personalities, only natural to treat them different and interact different, right!? Nice post.

  7. nikki says:

    Jason’s problem is he feels like he needs to fix everything. And he’d to this day stick up for Toby and probably take the blame for him. It’s just who he is, he’s a very thoughtful, warm hearted person who is often misunderstood. Even by me sometimes still! I’ll tell you what though he’d do anything for just about anyone.
    I can’t really answer this question personally because I only have Bailey. He is a mixture of his dad, me and his uncle Toby. Actually he’s a lot like Toby. The class clown always trying to make everyone laugh. He tends to go with the flow of things but can sometimes get stuck in a rut. He can be emotional and very sensitive, that he gets from me. The argumentative yet always trying to please and solve problems he gets from his dad. He doesn’t get into trouble at school so I’m okay with him being all of those things. It makes him…HIM.
    I can’t really imagine loving another child as much as I love Bailey. I know I would because that’s just how I am. I just can’t imagine it. I have asked Bailey if he ever wanted a sibling and he says he’d like a brother but one that leaves sometimes. LOL, made me laugh. He’s perfectly OK with being an only child. People told me in the beginning that it’s not fair to him and I’m taking away a special bond from him. I don’t see it that way one bit. 🙂

    • tessa says:

      Being an only child gives him a special bond with his parents. I have a guy friend who is an only child, a mama’s boy, and on his way to becoming a Doctor. He is the sweetest guy I know (as a friend).

      • nikki says:

        You are very right Tessa, thank you. I only have one friend who is an only child. He is thee most laid back person I have ever met and he says it has a lot to do with the fact he was an only child. He’s no doctor but I’d consider him in my top 5 nicest guys I know.

  8. Sue says:

    My kids are completely different!!!! Night and day. I love them both dearly and at the moment in the same way (maybe as they grow older it’ll be different.)

    I felt like I was the one growing up that got the short end of the stick b/c I didn’t get into trouble at school, or on the bus, or anywhere for that matter. I always got good grades (as did my sisters, my brother was a different story!) so even though they(my parents) may Not have expected things, I felt they did expect me to be perfect all the time. I certainly feel that my grandmother and aunts had favorites when it came to all the grandkids, and my siblings and I were not the favorites! My cousins could do no wrong; it was always someone else’s fault b/c one was the youngest or b/c we “older ones” were suppose to know better. I hated it!

  9. SKL says:

    I suspect that I was the favorite, but as a child, I always felt I was Cinderella, because my mom would give me more work and hold higher expectations compared to the other five. My sister, 2 years younger, I thought was the favorite because she would often get what she wanted by throwing a tantrum, and she was such a slob, my mom only gave her just enough chores so she’d have some token responsibility. I feel for my mom now, because with so many responsibilities, it had to be hard to deal with the brattiness and I can understand how she would have let it slide after a long day. As an adult, of course I can look back and see that I was really the lucky one and I’m the one who (knock on wood) ended up more successful in life, so far.

  10. Doraz says:

    I have 2 boys that are 4 years apart. They are a lot alike and also have their differences. I have always, since day one expected everyone in my family to treat each other with respect and understand the “uniqueness” of each person. We still do that, and it has worked out great. No favorites here! 🙂

  11. javajunkee says:

    I don’t play favorites although both will say I favorited the other one. (eye rolling)

    but I do probably discipline and get even with them in different ways.
    Yelling seems to be how I handle my daughter (the eldest) and silent treatment seems to work better on my son.

  12. allison says:

    I can’t comment because I only had my daughter at home. But I know my Grandparents definitely had favorites.

  13. JavaQueen says:

    Oyy, good question. I will answer carefully. It goes without saying that I adore all 3 of my children. With that obvious note put out there, I have boy/girl twins and my daughter has always been wayyyyyy more difficult than her twin brother. Oh. My. Gosh. There were days when their older brother and also twin girl were just trying to kill me and I’d be doing laundry and twin boy would be trying to help me. I thanked God a few times for sending me this little angel. It’s much easier to have sweet feelings for the one who is not raking you over the coals. It just is. It doesn’t mean you don’t love the others- it’s just they are slowly plotting my death 😉 Tee-hee!

  14. JavaQueen says:

    btw, sure I thought that my twin son is the sweetest kid on the planet, but I go out of my way to make sure each knows how much I love and appreciate their good qualities. Even when the twins had a Birthday, older bro David had his own cake each year that read, “Best Big Brother” because I didn’t want him to feel left out.

  15. Tosha says:

    I dont play favorites but I do treat each of my kids differently because they are all as different as night and day. All 4 of them have very distinct personalities and all require being dealt with differently. I treat them all fairly but differently. Sometimes I get accused of being unfair but all parents do.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Well….I have two kiddos who are like night and day. My daughter knows just how to get under my skin and honestly most days I don’t like her….I’ll always love her and keep her safe, but I often don’t like her….we just are very different personalities…I do end up giving her a ton of attention though, but most of it is negative attention..but even the negative attention can overshadow a sibling…

    On the flip side, my son is so calm and laid back. If I help him with something or do something nice for him he always stops to say thank you with a hug and a kiss. It’s hard not to call him a favorite in comparison to his sister, but the activities I do with him are different than what I do with his sister. I do have to say though that if I was guaranteed that other kids I had would be like him I’d easily have a dozen.

    I find it really hard to judge since mine are only 4 and 3. They’re at an age full of tantrums and the learning of social skills, so I’m hoping that as they age I’ll see less of the behavior that drives me crazy.

    I also have no idea if having one of each gender makes it easier or harder to determine favoritism…

    • Joy says:

      It’s funny you should mention gender Jen. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t want a girl. I was so hard to deal with that I wanted to skip that. But, my son Jason is just like me so it leads me to wonder if it’s gender or genetics?

  17. tessa says:

    I think it is gender, genetics, and the unique personality we’re born with! It is never just one thing that causes us to be who we are.

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