If you have more than one kid, you’ve probably worried about being fair as a parent. Having a parent who plays favorites can color a child’s early life. Ask any adult you know who their parents’ favorite kid was. They usually know and it still bugs them.
Kids and equality of parental love can be complicated.
When you’re a parent, you might tell your kids you love them equally, but does that mean always doing exactly the same for them all. Christmas gives you lots of opportunity to worry about this. Most parents enjoy getting gifts for their kids, but the issue of equality can make this complicated. Some parents respond to this by rigidly adhering to a “everyone gets the same” policy. Same pajamas, similar toys. You don’t want to play favorites, especially if you’ve grown up with an adult who did this with you.
Sorting the equality issue through can be challenging as a parent. There are several things you need to consider. First off, there are times you prefer one kid over the other. (It’s just you and I here–You can admit it to yourself.) If you love movies and one of your children loves watching them with you—you’re probably going to feel closer to the kid who shares your hobby. If you vote Republican and you’ve got a kid who worships George Bush—you feel connected and think the kid has her head on straight. If you love sports and your child, either plays sports or avidly watches sports with the same passion you do, you’re gonna really like this child.
It’s not that you love one more than the other, but you might feel closer to one at a given point, and closer to another kid at a different time. Emotions shift. This is normal. It doesn’t mean you don’t love all your kids. But you won’t always feel the same towards them. Get used to it and don’t freak out.
When it comes to parental love, though, children can evaluate equality as being reflected in what you give them. So, gift-giving can be difficult. Parents tend to worry and to try and give their kids the same, or spend the same money on them, but that’s probably not the best answer. Are your kids just alike? Do they have the same interests? Engage in the same activities?
If they’re not the same people, don’t treat them just alike. While it may be scary to think about investing differently in your kids, you need to do the tough thing. Respond to the individual child. Give her gifts appropriate to her, give her what she needs and wants. If your kids feel acknowledged and validated in their uniqueness, they’re probably not going to get crazy about one of them having an extra gift.
Love the kid, give the kid what’s good for that kid.