We all talk about it…those of us with more than 1 child anyway…how can our 2 children be so completely different?? I mean, really…my two have the same parents, have been raised by said parents, had the same set of rules(oh who am I kidding, the lack of rules…) and yet you couldn’t find two more different children on the planet. And I know that we are not anomalies in the family world..I hear this all the time from mothers of two children.
So, if it’s so common…what’s the point of this post, you might ask? Well….the one thing we, as parents, miss so many times is that, yes, our children are different, so guess what – their parenting needs to be different too! I have been witness to so many parents trying to enforce rules on their kids just because it’s “the rule”. I have always known that The Wild One needs different things than The Teenager, but it is never more apparent than at report card time. The Teenager has always had a fairly easy time with grades…shoot, he has an easy time with life. He gets straight “A’s” without even trying…one year, I even got a letter from the board of education saying that he couldn’t miss any more days of school or he would be considered truant…yet, straight “A’s”! He started getting a “B” each term about a year ago…know why? He doesn’t turn in all of his work! I mean, the only reason the kid gets a “B” is because he is too lazy to turn in a paper! Now, don’t think for one minute that he studies, reads a lot, does extra credit…nope, he just is “The Teenager”(that is said with a golden aura floating around it). I’m so proud of him, but push him every term to get his act together because he needs to get “A’s”. Now, The Wild One, on the other hand…to say she struggles with life is an understatement. Well, let me rephrase that…she does fine, I am the one who struggles with her life! Since my “career” change which has led to a much more consistent schedule, this girl has been amazing…to say the least! So, now her stories will be more of her crazy, mixed up personality coming through than her constant need to push me to the limit. Just as funny, trust me…she is nuts…but so much more humorous to me! Anyway…report cards just came out and this is the first year that The Wild One has had “letter grades”…up through 2nd grade they just get those little notes like “sometimes, often, always…” I never did figure those out. Well, I am nervous to look at this report card for the first time…because, well, you just never know with this child. And, she has had a great year, so I am expecting the best! What do I find…”C’s”! Not all “C’s” mind you…there was an “A” and a “B”, but there was also “C” ….right there in bold print. I hesitated for a second…waiting for what my “gut” reaction would be, and guess what…I was proud! So, proud! She may never get straight “A’s” but this is one smart girl! She has issues that keep her from being able to process information like you and I…or The Teenager. But she succeeds where others fail…she can make a friend in a room of one or one thousand…and not just a friend, but a BFF. She is a risk taker and a rule breaker…and in the words of Sheryl Sandburg…a “leader”…not bossy. The Teenager went out for football this year and I encouraged him every step of the way….The Wild One, I will discourage from daily or even weekly practices for a sport or activity – she just can’t handle it. Yet, the Teenager has thrived. So, while grades aren’t the only thing they don’t have in common…but what they do have in common is us….their parents. So, how do we, as parents, parent two completely different children. Do we worry about one wanting what the other has? Sure…worry is what we do as parents, right? But for all of the talk about individuality, we have to practice it, too. Will you get it right all of the time? Hell, no! We ARE parents, after all! But I am encouraging each of you to stop worrying about what your children will think or react to how you deal with each of them….parent each child the way they need. Let your heart and your faith guide you to what the best way to parent your children will be, and it will be different for each child. But it’s our love that they need….and love is shown through multiple avenues; discipline, cuddling, reading, giving them space, etc. So, the lesson? The love should be the same, but the method may be different. Don’t get hung up on keeping the rules the same for each child…help your child reach for goals, never settle, and help them work at a level that meets their needs…not yours.