Ask any parent if they treat their children the same, and our standard reply will always be that we do, that we treat each of our children the same as each other. But in my case, that is certainly not the truth.
Now fundamentally, do I fully commit my heart to each of them…yes, of course I do. There is no question for me that they each hold an equal share of my heart….well, they all hold all of it each if that makes sense!
But when it comes to almost everything else, do I treat them the same?
My oldest son is skinny as a rake and I worry he doesn’t eat enough. He would rather do almost anything than eat. So I regularly sneak cheese into his portion of soup but not into the others’ helpings, and pass him the odd brunch bar when the others’ are not looking. I intentionally shop and cook with him in mind, moreso than the others.
I think there is a strong possibility that they will each go to different secondary schools. My oldest son’s love for Maths and History should put him at a school which enables him to challenge that side of his brain, but that may not be the right choice for my daughter who is much more a lover of literature or my youngest son who is already showing great aptitude for sport. I want them to go to schools that enable them to develop and challenge those interests, as well of course as providing a well-rounded education.
At Christmas, I do not give a moment’s thought to how much I spend on each child. We buy them what they want (obviously as long as we think it is appropriate) regardless of the fact that one child’s gift may be more expensive than other. I don’t want my children to put a monetry value on everything and think that it all has to be ‘fair’ in a financial sense. Fairness to me is four children, happy with their gifts.
It’s the same with parties – I don’t add up the cost of one child’s verses another. I organise the party that they want to the very best of my means and abilities. But this year’s Belle’s (first ever!) sleepover will likely be much cheaper than the swimming pool and mermaid (yes, you can book real live mermaids!) which I am planning for Chess whose favourite thing in the world to do is splash about in water.
Even when it comes to discipline, my approach is not the same. My beautiful but oh-so-stubborn Belle needs to realise herself that her actions are inappropriate rather than being told she is in the wrong, and handling her until she comes to that point of realization is entirely different to how I would treat Griffin if he pushed the boundries that little bit too far!
So do I treat them the same? No, I definitely don’t. I recognise that they are all different so why would one size parenting fit all of them? It quite simply doesn’t.