Keeping things Fair or Why my kids never ask “What did you bring me?”

This morning I had the chance to participate in CTV Canada AM’s “Parent Panel.” The panel is a new initiative hoping to get parents to weigh in on newsworthy issues. This morning’s panel included Maureen Dennis of Wee Welcome, and Sandra Martin , Editor in Chief at Walmart “Live Better” magazine .

Canada AM Maureen Sandra Heather

Fun chatting with these lovely ladies.

The Topic?

What do you do if one of your kids is more talented than the others? How do you allocate family resources of time and money? And would you force a child to sit in the stands to watch their more talented sibling in an area where they haven’t excelled?

You can see the video of this morning’s appearance here
Parent Panel on Canada AM

The conversation was lively and one of the points I tried to raise was that problems around this are less likely to occur when parents set rules and expectations early.  If your kids understand that they are individuals with  individual talents and that they aren’t expected to be the same (or equal to) their sibling, they can genuinely celebrate each others achievements.

It’s why I don’t go out of my way to find each of my kids a gift when I travel. They know that if I find something special for one or both of them – something that reminds me of their unique personality –  that I’ll bring it their way, but no one is expecting anything from me when I return.

The result? Kids who have never once greeted me at the door with a “What did you bring me?” and who also understand that life isn’t fair.  Sometimes one brother will get something and the other won’t. Or one may travel with me and the other won’t.   Or one may be talented at a particular sport and the other isn’t.

My kids know that we’re going to cheer the strengths and help with the weaknesses of each of them and that the other child is expected to do the same. Any of my sons’ successes would be family successes. And so yes,  they would be expected (barring some other commitment) to absolutely cheer alongside their parents for their brother at every possible occasion.

I think it is a parent’s responsibility to set that tone of support and realism to make sure that to the best of our ability each kid starts to recognize their own strengths independently of their sibling’s and in doing so isn’t threatened when its time to cheer.

What do you do in those situations? Are you a souvenir promiser? Do you make sure that every kid gets something every  time? Do you try to keep things even? Curious to know what’s happening in your home and how you’d handle a situation where one child was clearly more talented at something than another.

 

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