Are you just like your siblings? Of course not, and your kids will probably grow up and say the same thing. Most parents of grown children shake their heads and ask, “How could they grow up in the same house and be so different?” That answer is easy. They are different.
Is it birth order? Is it personality? Is it genetics? Is it behavior? Yes, to all of the above and one more. God created them to be unique, from their DNA to their fingerprints. Their differences are a great gift and one that we as parents should emphasize and respect.
It’s a good idea to reconsider using phrases like, “Look at your brother, he isn’t acting that way,” or “I wish you would act more like your sister, she gets her homework done as soon as she gets home from school.” When we compare our kids, we teach them to compete. Competition means someone wins and another loses.
How do we parent so that each child wins? Embrace and encourage their God-given uniqueness.
- Define “fair” as equal but not the same. One child might need to be disciplined with a privilege removed while another may need to pull weeds out of the flowerbed. When one complains that the other was treated differently, just tell them, “Of course I treated you differently; you are different people.” Fair is equal, but not the same.
- Christmas and birthdays don’t require the same number of gifts, just an equal amount spent on each. Let each holiday be a celebration of the uniqueness of each member of the family. In fact, this process provides a good lesson in finance for the children who want those designer labels.
- From an early age, teach your children that they hold an equal percentage of importance in your family. I told my two sons that they were one-fourth of our family. That meant when we chose a movie or a ride at the amusement park, each person, Mom and Dad included, had requests to be honored. The boys sat through the stage shows, ate popcorn, and most of the time enjoyed the show. They toured museums and historical sites and their dad and I rode roller coasters and sat in arcades. Every member of the family has choices that should be honored.
The family is made up of several people, each unique but each a part of the whole. When one family member is ill or hurt, the whole family is impacted. When one person is grumpy or angry, the whole family is affected. When one person experiences great success or joy, the entire family celebrates. We are different people in the same family.
Let’s raise our children to embrace the gifts and personalities of each family member and require everyone to view themselves as a percentage of “one.” God has a unique love for every person and a special plan for each life. We can teach our children to understand their place in God’s family by embracing and encouraging their uniqueness within our own families.
Every child is a one-of-a-kind edition to a set of books titled: Our Family. Let each volume tell a different and fascinating story.
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.