When I was a kid, I remember feeling so frustrated that my parents treated me differently than they did my brother and sister. They always seemed to expect more from me than they did from them. My parents were thrilled when my sister would come home with all A’s and B’s. When I came home with all A’s and one B I was grilled about why they weren’t all A’s. It was infuriating!
In my mind everything was supposed to be “fair” and “equal” which to me meant that all the expectations and how my parents treated us were supposed to be the same. To be fair was to be the same to my way of thinking. But, when it comes to parenting that would be the opposite of fair!
Now that I’m a parent, I totally get it. Children are not the same. What one excels at, another might have to struggle for. What one child is capable of effortlessly might be a huge achievement for the other. I didn’t have to fight for my grades. The truth is, it was easy for me and I didn’t really achieve much despite the great report card. Can it really be an achievement if you didn’t have to work for it? Should one be treated the same as the other when one child has to put so much more effort into the same final result?
I believe that each child needs to be taken individually. For instance, at my children’s school, the kids receive a stamp each day when their behavior has met the expectations of the teacher. Arabelle has a folder full of stamps. In fact, she has received a stamp for every single day of her little academic career. Gavin, on the other hand, has to fight his little boy nature every single day to get a stamp. Gavin gets a reward if he can go all week and only lose one stamp. Most of the time he can’t quite make it. We don’t expect Gavin to get his page full of stamps like Arabelle; it’s just not realistic.
Does this mean that we hold the bar higher for Arabelle? No, not really. The bar is in the same place, but what the bar means for one, isn’t what it means for the other. We expect our kids to achieve what he/ she is capable of achieving. To expect Gavin to achieve what Arabelle can when it comes to something like behavior at school is simply not fair.
Parenting is simply not a one size fits all kind of philosophy. Our parenting strategy must change and adapt to meet the needs of our children. We must consider their strengths and weaknesses. We must make sure that our expectations are based in each child’s capabilities and not a result of what another child may or may not be capable of.
Parenting is a live organic thing that is constantly changing and adapting as our situations and our children change. It is the hardest job we will ever do. And it requires us to be proactive and reflective. If we stand still, if we expect what worked before to keep working, we might find out that we messed up utterly.
Who knew that being a parent was likely to be the biggest challenge you would ever face?! 🙂