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Parenting Siblings: Is It Fair?

So I can do the Math on the increase of my children. Sometimes I look at them and wonder how it all happened.  The math is the easy part.  The hard part comes now I have four children to juggle, each with different needs and personalities; strengths and weaknesses; likes and dislikes. 

I strive to raise my children together as a team but treat them all individually. I don’t parent each one the same but I love them equally. 

Why it’s not the same but still fair

A word: Trust. My children trust me.  They really do and this scares me.  They know I strive to treat them fairly as individuals, so even when it’s not the same, they can accept that (even when sometimes they don’t like it).

A saying: It all comes out in the wash.  It means, although something is not fair at the time, it works out to be fair in the end.  I believe this works where there is trust.

Examples

Presents:I don’t always spend exactly the same amount of money on each child, although I do give the same amount of presents.  This is especially true while the children are young and have little concept of monetary value (a lovely state to be in).

Clothes: Sometimes one child will need new clothes and the others don’t.  I don’t buy them all something just for the sake of being equal. Soon it will be their turn to have new things too. 

Expectations: My eldest daughter is messy, creative and disorganised. My second daughter is organised, driven and emotional.  I allow for them to be who they are so this means adjusting my parenting expectations accordingly.  I don’t expect my messy-creative-disorganised daughter to have her room in the same state as my organised-driven-emotional daughter.

Television:I remember saying to Mum one day of my younger sister, “We never watched that movie at her age!” Ah, now it’s coming back to visit me.  My youngest child has watched things on television earlier than my oldest child.  I have to be careful of this sometimes.  On the other side of the fence, my eldest child enjoys extra privileges due to her responsibility and age.

Photographs:I have photos of my first baby at every stage of development.  Over the course of every subsequent child, although there are many photos, they aren’t documented so well.  That’s life.

When all is stripped down to the basics, I don’t treat the children the same but I absolutely love each one equally,  for who they are, with all my heart.

My children …all different …all precious.

Other Be A Fun Mum Links

Siblings: Friends for Life

Childishness or Foolishness

Choose Which Hill to Die On: The Terrible Twos

I Have Three Crushes

Little Billies, Toast and the Terrible Twos

Discipline

10 Mistakes

Three Gates: Words of Wisdom

Hands Behind Back

Personality: Heads and Tails

External Link

Parent with Potential

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    BookChook
    September 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Such a lovely tribute to your kids, and to your philosophy as a parent, Kelly.

  • Reply
    Wendy Webber
    September 8, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    So true especially the TV part.

    As a mum also of four children I understand where you are coming from. We also have a problem with time of bedtime, the two youngest are 7pm and the two older ones are 7.30. My eldest will tell me I am being unfair because he should go to bed even later even though he wakes up 2 hours earlier than everyone!

    I guess at the end of the day you can only do your best and just love them all equally and hope they will be nice to you in your old age 🙂

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm

      @Wendy Webber, ha! That’s it. I don’t think our kids can fully appreciate our decisions until they are parents themselves. I didn’t think of bedtime but that is another issue. All my kids go to bed at 7 but the older two can read or do a quiet activity for 30-40 min. I love the early bedtime lol. I’m stringing that one out as long as possible. 🙂

  • Reply
    Heart n Soul
    September 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    So true…. every child has individual strengths and weaknesses and the fairest thing we can do is meet each child where they are at. Great insight.

  • Reply
    shelly
    September 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I can really relate to this article, having four kids also. I remember my mom (there were 5 of us kids) making sure everyone got the same amount of presents at Christmas, especially when we were all young.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 8, 2010 at 6:30 pm

      @shelly, my mum too made sure we always had the same amount of presents to open at Christmas time. She also loved us the same but parented us (there are 4 of us) together but individually. It made me feel loved but I also learnt to respect my sisters.

  • Reply
    Ella
    September 8, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Im also a mum of 4 (2 are mine(ours) & 2 step children) It certainly can be a juggle at times meeting differing needs & personalities. Ive been struggling through today (big issues with 1 child at the moment) so it was good to sit down and read your post – very inspiring!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 9, 2010 at 7:00 am

      @Ella, A huge challenge! It’s never simple is it? And I find too, that just when I sort one child out, another has an issue to deal with. Ha! Oh the joy of parenting. Thanks for leaving a comment Ella. I love hearing from you 🙂

  • Reply
    Katrina Germein
    September 8, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I often wonder why it surprises me so much that my three children are all so different. Of course they’re different. I love seeing the varied ways they face the world. They are each individual, and are each perfect. Sounds like yours are too.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 9, 2010 at 7:04 am

      @Katrina Germein, I know what you mean. For some reason, when I had my first child, I expected her to be like me. And she is not and I’m so glad they are all different and who the are. It’s beautiful isn’t it Katrina?

  • Reply
    Edie Mindell
    September 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I totally agree with you. Every child has his own personalities and traits, may it be on the positive or negative side. I believe that each one of my children are unique on their own, and I love them all just the same.:-)

  • Reply
    PlanningQueen
    September 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I can totally relate to this Kelly. My saying is that it all evens out in the end. In our family they receive things upon need, not demand. And like you my kids trust that I know what they need. Sometimes that it is a heavy weight and this will definitely change as they get older.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 23, 2010 at 10:45 am

      You’ve hit the nail on the head PQ. It’s so true though, that it’s a heavey weight for a Mum to carry but we do it out of love.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    El P
    May 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Everything you write resonates with me, Kelly. Thanks for the honesty and thought you put into your blogs. It’s as if you are articulating my own thoughts (and I’m sure the thoughts of many more of us)….

    My boys are only 2 and 4, but so different, and each so wonderful. I can see elements of myself in each, but they definitely put their own stamp on things…. I often think about the 3rd point (Expectations) and am very conscious that my little ‘things’ (perfectionism, aversion to mess) don’t become hang-ups for my children.

    Love your take on TV time too…

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      May 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you for telling me so lovely. It makes me happy to share and connect with others. It really is a small world, and while we sometimes feel like we are going through things on our own, we are all on such similar journeys. Thank you for sharing mine. I appreciate you. x

  • Reply
    Ian Jones
    August 12, 2011 at 1:14 am

    I certainly agree that there’s a difference between treating your children fairly and treating them equally. Fair parenting cannot always be equal and it’s important to accept this and to treat your children as individuals. Certainly, this will make them feel more loved than if you constantly preoccupy yourself with making everything completely even. You’re right that you don’t have to spend exactly the same amount on presents for each child; surely it’s more important to invest your time into ensuring that you have chosen gifts that will be truly appreciated. If this is the case, enjoyment of the present should overshadow its monetary value. I think Planning Queen sums this up well in saying ‘it all evens out in the end’.

  • Reply
    Rick
    August 22, 2011 at 3:55 am

    @Kelly: You have such wonderful kids. I can’t imagine parenting 4 kids when I’m already struggling with my 2 precious angels. As much as possible I try to treat them equally on all things but I can’t deny the fact that my son is much closer to me than his older sister.

  • Reply
    Sheds
    October 8, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I love this post because it’s so inspiring. We can’t expect all our children to be the same.. I hope they are so that we can deal will them all at once. But the reality is, just like what you said, they have different needs. And being as a mother, you have to personalize your approach to them. These are your kids but they are still different individuals.

  • Reply
    Abbas
    October 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Kelly, as a parent of four myself, I also agree that it is impossible (and not even advised) to treat all your kids the same way – but it is essential that you love them all equally. No two humans are the same, even if they are related by blood and kinship. We have to recognize that our kids all have different needs and we must work to fulfill all of them without compromising on any of the others needs.

  • Reply
    Taylor
    November 15, 2011 at 6:55 am

    This is one of the great challenges of parenting … at least for me…and that’s not to try and program the uniqueness out of your children. Sure, it would be nice if they always behaved as they should, on cue. But that’s not likely going to be in their best interest if we end up suppressing who they really are in the process. Sure, they need to learn to get along with others and act appropriately in a social setting. But outside of the basics, we need to let them be who they are and adjust our parenting accordingly

  • Reply
    Tim
    November 18, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Parenting would always be a challenge, no matter what. There is no right or wrong way in raising one’s child, much more children. It’s also a continuous learning process for the parents. One thing I find hard keeping at bay is sibling jealousy: “Dad loves Timmy more than me” with a matching pout. All you can do is give a hug.

  • Reply
    IanW
    January 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

    A delightful summary from someone who is really doing the best for the children. So often we get all the negativity. And yes parenting is one of those things that none of learn at school or college. Often becoming a parent just sort of happens on the way and then you are faced with challenges you never even thought about.
    I am a grandparent now and one of the nicest things that my daughter said to me recently is that you do not know what it is all about until you are about 40! Maybe not exactly true but you will understand the sentiment.

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