How do you remain fair and neutral when raising multiple children?
So often, parents say: ”I don’t have a favorite child. I treat all of my children the same and love them all the same.”
While this may be true, sometimes, as a parent, it may be a challenge to raise multiple children under one roof and remain fair across the board. And as a result, often times, parents are accused of displaying favoritism to a certain child or children.
Playing favorites with children could become a crucial matter in the household. Not only is it a frustrating feat for parents to deal with, the notion that one sibling assumes another sibling is treated better is an issue in itself. Playing favorites with your children, even subconsciously, can stir up insecurities among sibling sets, spark conflict and influence a great deal of sibling rivalry. And sometimes, sibling rivalry can look a bit like World War II (moms, we've all been there!).
Studies show that a person’s birth order can be a strong dependent in their personality. Most times, it is apparent that older children complain how the younger children are being treated and vice versa. A few time outs can easily fix arguments such as these. But, what will it take to squash the overall idea of playing favorites?
How to Play Fair as a Parent
Here are some tips and rules that can be put in place to reassure that all children are being treated fairly and you are remaining neutral as the parent:
- Make Charts: Make charts to display throughout the home to help children identify their individual responsibilities. Doing this will help children see that everyone works equally to contribute to the household.
- The Same Rules Apply for Every Child: Stay consistent with the rules for all children. As hard as this may seem, it is possible! Be sure that if one child breaks curfew and gets grounded for a week, the same discipline takes place for another child.
- Steer Clear of Pet Names: Try to avoid “pet names” for certain children, such as "Angel" or "Miss Perfect." Try using nicknames instead, like "Ash" for Ashley or "Tommy" for Thomas. Often times, special “pet names” used for certain children can make the other children feel left out.
- Have the Older Child Take the Lead: When disciplining, use the oldest child or children as leading examples to help define roles and responsibilities in the home. It is often very unclear why an older child receives different privileges than a younger child. Be sure to bring these points to the forefront when teaching lessons and disciplining your children.
- Get Together: Host interactive family nights where all children are present. Doing group activities at the home builds cohesiveness and helps avoid ideas of parents playing favorites.
- Take Note of Gender: If there are a mix of brothers and sisters in the home, make sure as the parent you are tending to the special needs of each child based off of gender. Specific genders demand certain needs. This has to be clear to the children to avoid thoughts of one gender being treated with favoritism.
- Stay Neutral During Arguments: When solving conflicts between siblings, stay neutral and avoid taking sides. Sometimes just listening to both sides and having the children come up with a solution is a safe way to avoid favoritism.
So, next time World War II is taking place in the middle of your family room and the children are fighting, play your part as the parent by remaining fair. Stay neutral with your children at all costs and be very careful to not take sides. While you know that you love each child dearly and you have no favorites, this can be a gray area for your children.