Equal is Less

I am in Chapter 4 of Siblings Without Rivalry, and she is bringing up some more very interesting points. They are well worth discussing, IMHO ;)

I told them all the story of the young wife who suddenly turned to her husband asked, “Who do you love more? Your mother or me?” Had he answered, “I love you both the same,” he would have been in big trouble. But instead he said, “My mother is my mother. You’re the fascinating, sexy woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

I wonder if this story is real ;) Either way, its a good answer.

“To be loved equally,” I continued, “is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely — for one’s own special self — is to be loved as much as we need to be loved.”

I wish to continue in this line of thought.

To meet our children’s needs is far better than trying to even everything out. Not only is that impossible, but its also not realistic. That’s not how life works. She gives examples of kids who are complaining that their sibling’s pancakes were bigger. Rather than trying to even it out, she suggests asking if they are still hungry and then either giving them another or making extra for them the next time. It doesn’t have to be equal to be fair.

Similarly you don’t need to spend 10 minutes with each child. Instead what is needed is to meet the child’s needs at that time. If they need 5 minutes, then fine. If they need 15, that’s fine too. It lets them know that you’ll be there when they need you, and you don’t need to force extra time or cut it short in order to be fair.

She then addresses whether or not we must love our children equally. Obviously this is a tough subject. Just like the above example of the young wife, it is important that we look for the best in all of our children, even if we have a natural connection with one child.

Would it help… to tell yourself that it isn’t necessary to respond to each child with equal passion, and that it’s perfectly normal and natural to have different feelings towards different children? The only thing that is necessary is that we take another look at the less favored child, seek out her specialness, then reflect the wonder of it back to her. That’s all we can ask of ourselves, and all the children need of us. By valuing and being partial to each child’s individuality, we make sure that each of our children feels like a number one child.

This is what I have always strived to do, and I think it is because I had excellent modeling from my parents. We openly admit that in our family there are certain members who have more of a spark together, but that we still love each other in our own special ways. For example, my mother is one of my best friends, and throughout my life that has been true. Although she and I are chattier and do more things together, my dad and I have a soul connection. There is a depth there that I can’t even explain with words. My brother is the opposite way. He’s friends with my dad, but his deep connection is with my mom. I don’t feel like either of them favor either of us. They just love us differently :)

I pray that I’ll be able to show my kids the same thing.

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Comparing our children

Never compare yourself to others. You’ll become either vain or bitter.

I’m reading the chapter on comparing siblings in Siblings Without Rivalry and it is making me think. As she discusses the way that criticizing or praising changes the way a child views themself, I am having a lot of a-ha moments.

I am a very competitive person, and I would be lying if I said that I don’t care what other people think or do. Not only do I care, but I also strive to one up people. It’s terrible, but true. I am really trying hard to both fix it in myself and to teach my kids to do better.

I have told myself that it is ok to occasionally tell my children things like “You can eat so much neater than the baby” or “Look how your sister went straight to her car seat and buckled herself.” Now I am cringing as I type those statements out because I see how I was building up pride and vanity while making my kids think they were better or more loved at the expense of the other one. It is something that I’ve just recently started doing, and I am kicking myself!

Although I’m sure it made my dd proud to hear that I was happy that she buckled herself, it made my son feel as though he couldn’t measure up. When I told my son he could eat more neatly, then he told himself he was better than she is. I’m such a dunce!

So instead of me saying “You picked up all of your toys!” and my son thinking “I’m great at cleaning up!”, I sometimes said “You don’t leave stuff around like your sister. She’s too young to clean up after herself.” and he thought “I’m better than her!” Grrrrreat P Not exactly the lesson I was trying to teach.

This whole DescriptivePraise thing is tough for me. I naturally slip into “Good job!” and “That’s beautiful!” instead of “You folded all of the laundry!” or “Look at all of the lines that you drew!” (I almost put “beautiful lines” in my example! Ack!) This is something I need to concentrate on…

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