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In our country we talk about equality all the time. In America, equality is mostly defined as everyone having the same pay for the same job. Equality defined as seeing people through the same lens. Basically everyone is the same and equal to everyone else.
Yet, when we give everyone exactly the same thing, there always seems to be this underlying discontentment. I think on some underlying level, we know that while we may all be human and share similar basic needs, our needs, wants, desires, hopes and dreams are not the same.
No matter how similar our life is to someone else, we are very different people and this is even more true when you deal with siblings.
Some adult children grow to resent their parents treating everyone the same
I’ve known a lot of adults that hold deep resentment against their parents for everyone getting the “same” at birthdays and various holidays. Through the years, I have found the the ‘same’ is defined in different ways.
For example, the same can be the amount of money spent, or the same type of gifts, or the same number of gifts. But to a child, everyone getting $500 worth of gifts, or that everyone got the same duffel bag or that you each have exactly 24 presents, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you met their deep wants and needs.
Have you ever felt like a failure as a mother?
Don’t discipline your children the exact same way
So I want to encourage you, while you may love your children equally, you do not raise them or treat them the exact same.
How does that look in life?
Well, take for example, discipline. Not every child responds to the same discipline the same way. Some children thrive with timeouts, they need that moment to get themselves together. Other kids need to be talked too, sat down and have it explained to them.
Still other children need to be re-directed, some may need positive reinforcement, while some may need that smack on the butt, some may need the loud voice and some may need to be hugged. This is okay.
Yet, I often hear mothers complain that one child is ‘worse’ than the other because the standard discipline doesn’t work the same exact way. It is like they produced two identical apples and not two different human beings.
Hey, let me tell you what it’s like going from one child to two!
Dividing your time among each child will never be exactly equal
Time is another area where we can not be exactly equal. You cannot say to your son who just fell down and is crying, ‘I already gave you, your time now it’s your sister’s time.’
In the same light, you cannot say to the sister, ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you right now it’s your brother turn’.
As parents, we always worry are we giving each child the same amount of attention. I know many mom’s, myself included, that would reflect back on the day, asking themselves did each child get the same amount of one on one time with me.
It has taken me awhile to realize, that a daily accounting system will never be equal but over the course of weeks, months and the year, yes both children will get the attention that they need and it will flesh out to be mostly equal. But you can’t keep track of it like an accounting system.
Even in our education system, we see evidence of society slowly realizing that the ‘same is not equal’. It has finally been acknowledged that not every child learns the same way. So now we focus our lesson plans on meeting the needs of our visual learners along with our physical learners and our auditory learners.
You can’t expect your kids to be interested in the exact same thing
Finally it’s OK to give my daughter a music class and not force my son to attend since he’s not enjoying it. It is also OK for my son to take baseball instead of the music class even though they don’t have an equal cost. My job as the parent is to find the money, find the time, and find the energy to meet their needs, and help them grow into the people that they dream about becoming.
I think in raising children, we must meet our children’s needs as they come to the surface. When we focus on both of them as individuals, and if we worry about meeting their needs versus equality, we will find that we give them exactly what they need. And who gets more or less will become less of an issue.
I bet if we start doing this as a society – meeting our neighbors needs, our friends needs, or our coworkers needs, it would become less about equality and more about success.
At the end of the day, I believe people just want to be acknowledged and loved and cared about. And isn’t that the point of parenting?
Ever wonder what the beginning of motherhood actually looks like?