Trying to keep things equal in your family? While your goal may be to treat everyone fairly, it’s not exactly realistic.
After all, you don’t behave the same way with your best friend as you do with your boss, do you? You likely address your father in a different way than you do your own siblings. You treat everyone as an individual which is why it’s completely OK to be a different mom to each of your children.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to parenting. Which is why your aim should be to get to know your children for the unique little people that they are. Your life as a mom will be infinitely simpler if you keep this in mind.
But what causes us to treat each of our children differently? You may think you’re being unbiased and equal, but there are some things that set the tone for how you treat each of your children. There is a lot more to parenting than ensuring your children stay safe at home and when you’re preparing your home for a new baby it’s difficult to stop your mind from racing.
What Does this Mean for Birth Order?
Whether you plan on having a large family or are easing into having babies, birth order certainly plays a role. Those first-born kids are the testing grounds for your parenting skills.
With your first-born child, you may have read everything there is to know about parenting. But it’s a whole different ballgame when you attempt to put the things you’ve read into action. For the most part, first-time parents tend to be excited and loving, yet frightened and overprotective.
And while you might be a bit more neurotic with your first child, you also likely have more free time as opposed to the second or third one. You don’t have a house full of babies just yet, so you have time to read to your child, put up with their whims and tend to their every need. You may even have time to fill up those scrapbooks you got at your baby shower!
Then you have another one, and perhaps more after that. And just like that, you’re spread thin. Now you have less time to tell stories and crawl on the floor to play with their toys because you’re busy nursing and changing diapers.
Which is why you may end up in a situation where your firstborn is doing dishes while the younger child rolls around on the carpet, obliviously. The issue here is not about making things equal in terms of chores, but about giving your time and attention equally, even if the way you spend your time with each child is different.
While you might not want to take one out for ice cream and make the other one jealous, cultivating time together with each one, individually, is the essential step to take. It will allow you to be a different mom to each of your children without being unfair.
Considering Special Needs
Families that have a child with any sort of disability will have greater challenges of course. Any child with special needs will require more attention. However, it provides a wonderful lesson for your other children in the way of empathy.
Still, your other children are just as deserving of attention, so make time for each of them, and avoid letting the needs of your special one take up all of your attention. Healthy boundaries are important for every member of the family. Not every mom will have to contend with this issue, however, even if you have no special needs children in your home, it certainly can’t hurt to teach your kids how to be empathetic to one another, and everyone else as a direct result of it.
Exploring Gender Roles
Then there are some of us, parents to both boys and girls, who struggle not to clump them into stereotypes. Boys are typically assigned physical chores like taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn while the girls are often asked to fold laundry or do the dishes.
Now here you have an opportunity to make things more equal in your household, by simply having your children take turns doing different chores. As long as the chores you assign are age-appropriate (we do NOT want to read about a five-year-old driving a lawnmower!), that’s what counts. In fact, the girls may have more fun in the yard than with the laundry, and the boys may enjoy the break.
Plus, the best way to parent is to teach your children how to do all kinds of things. Maybe they’ll make it big and be able to afford all sorts of services to keep their home in order with little effort when they’re grown up. But much more likely, they’ll be self-sufficient and able to care for themselves when they’re far from home.
Gender goes beyond chores though for distinctions between your children. For ages, boys were taught to “man up” and not cry while girls are often told not to “get hysterical” when they cry. Banishing these antiquated thoughts and letting your children express themselves however they’re most comfortable is incredibly important. This way they will feel comfortable around you and will come to you when big things happen, and ultimately cherish you as a provider of guidance and advice. And yes, they will still do it, even if you treat them differently than their other siblings.
How to Create an Environment Where Everyone Feels Loved
Being a mom is tough stuff, and what works for one child will likely be hard to replicate with the next one. Circumstances are always changing and evolving. You have to learn to roll with it and keep on going. The family dynamic changes every time you add a baby to your household! However, as long as you keep your approach to actions and consequences similar for all of your children, try your best to say the right things, establish age-appropriate rules and, most importantly, give your deepest love to each of them, it will not matter which Mom-face you wear around any of them. All that will matter is that all of your children feel your love whether they are near or far.
We all have our own unique relationships and bonds with the people around us. Likely, you have observed how your children behave with each other versus how they do with their friends or toward their own father. Trying to carbon-copy every relationship in your life isn’t the answer. Respecting their individuality, and cultivating their unique personalities and quirks is!