I have two kids. One boy and one girl. One big and one little. One kid for my right arm and one for my left. Restaurants always have a table for our family of four and no one is ever left out on the rides at Disneyland. Sounds like perfect balance, right? The thing is, there’s nothing balanced about the way I treat my kids. It’s entirely unbalanced and some might even say it’s not fair. But fair is not at all what I’m aiming for in this whole parenting thing.
My kids are totally different and entirely unique. My son is a textbook firstborn. He’s a rule follower (for the most part) and he pretty much met all the traditional benchmarks that go with baby and toddlerhood – when to begin solid foods, potty training and sleeping through the night. My daughter…not so much. She’s for sure the one that was the easiest to birth but will most likely be the hardest to raise. She’s daring, independent, and my favorite adjective used by moms of strong-willed girls, “free-spirited.”
When it came to discipline, I never wanted there to be a double standard between how we treated our boy vs. our girl. I quickly learned that we were going to have to take a different parenting approach the second time around. Our daughter fights us going to sleep, wakes throughout the night, and gets up early. She tests the waters and pushes limits in a way our son never attempted. At first, I worried that one child would think they were getting special treatment over the other and certainly didn’t want to create the appearance of a “favorite.” But somewhere along the way, I realized that it’s okay if how we respond doesn’t come across as fair. It’s okay if not everything is perfectly equal. Instead, it needs to be equitable. Equity means that everyone gets what they need. Sometimes it means that one gets extra comfort and sometimes it means tough love. For anyone around us, it may seem like I’ve coddled one and been harsh to the other. Far from it. The truth is, I know my kids best and know how to best meet their needs.
If the second has taught me anything, it’s been to appreciate each unique child for who they are and what they bring to our family, to not compare, and to certainly not draw a hard line in the sand for how I treat my kids.