To think that no matter how hard you try to treat you children equal its impossible?

(33 Posts)
littlebritain Mon 09-Dec-13 10:04:34

I adore my children, they are all different and I love them all for different reasons. For example, my oldest is at the stage where we can have great discussions about the world, I value his opinions even though they can be somewhat naive. My middle child has a great sense of humour and constantly makes me laugh. He can get himself in trouble sometimes at school due to his inability to know where the boundaries are but he is harmless and lovely. My youngest is a tough cookie, very independent and somewhat of a loner at times which I love because they certainly cant be described as a sheep. I embrace their differences and love them for their individuality. As a result of them being different I do at times have to treat them differently, for example I sometimes have to discipline my middle child for getting into trouble at school for being giddy, where as I never have to do this with the other two. Sometimes encouraging my youngest to join in with the rest if us can lead to arguments as can my oldest insisting that his opinion is of course the right one and he knows all there is to know at the grand old age of 16.

Recently my youngest two have started noticing that I "never tell the others off for x, y or z" and to be fair they are right, but you can't tell another child off for something they don't do can you?. In their minds though this equals them being treated unequally. My oldest was recently disgruntled because I had to take middle child shopping due to a growth spurt (they seem to forget the times when they get things and the others don't).

Anyway, I was recently discussing this with a work colleague who said I was wrong to buy for one and not the other! She also said that if one wanted a phone for Christmas then they should all get a new phone for Christmas. She claims that her children never think I treat the other better than the others because she actually treats them all exactly the same. I think she is delusional. Surely one day one of her children will get the hump that their sibling ate the most biscuits/always gets to choose whats on t.v (insert petty injustice as required).

So am I being unreasonable to think that it is actually impossible to treat your children the same ALL of the time?

WilsonFrickett Mon 09-Dec-13 10:10:14

I only have one child but I think your colleague is being U. Why on earth would you buy, say, a 16 yo and a 5 yo the same Christmas presents? And of course you can't tell someone off for something they haven't done! And part of childhood is 'growing into' things. Obviously you wouldn't have the same bedtime/going out rules for a 16 yo and a 10 yo?

I think the only time it can cause resentment (see threads on here) is when DCs are grown and parents give large sums of money to one and not the other (recent thread on house deposits) or pays for one lot of DGCs to do things and not the other (recent thread on school fees). But generally and while they are under your roof, no YANBU.

Seff Mon 09-Dec-13 10:13:50

Overall though, they are treated equally. I think trying to make every single situation equal can cause these issues more sometimes.

IMO, providing each child with what they need, when they need it, is treating them equally. If, for example, you had taken middle child shopping when new clothes were needed, but had made another child wear things that didn't fit, that would be unfair.

Kids will get pissed off at decisions their parents make. Then they grow up!

As for the phone example, what if one of them didn't need/want a new phone and wanted something else? Is it not more unfair to give them something they didn't want? It sounds like she's projecting her own ideas of value onto the kids presents.

Beehatch Mon 09-Dec-13 10:15:08

When my kids point out supposed inequalities I try and explain that I aim for equality in experience -which doesn't mean they get exactly like for like, but that on the whole things are balanced.

runningonwillpower Mon 09-Dec-13 10:21:31

Treating you children differently is not the same as treating them unequally or unfairly.

They are individuals with different behaviours and needs - responding to that as and when appropriate is hardly unfair. Why would you buy them all new shoes if only one of them actually needs them? It all balances out in the long run and it's not healthy to allow children to confuse material indulgence with love.

I have seen parents try to make everything the same all of the time in the interests of fairness. And it seems that it often leads to a shocking sense of entitlement with children constantly checking that one isn't getting more than the other.

I think that you are far from unreasonable.

Olbasoil Mon 09-Dec-13 10:23:07

I love my children , I find some of them easier than others but I love all of them dearly. I don't spend equal amounts on them, I don't buy clothes for them all at the same time and I'm stricter with two of them because their personalities require me to. They are individuals and need to be treated as such , that's a much fairer & nicer way I think

BananaNotPeelingWell Mon 09-Dec-13 10:25:09

Sounds like you re treating them the same though. I treat mine all the same. Just not necessarily at the same timewink It totally depends on what they need individually or what is going on.

They are all treated the same regarding expectations of behaviour and effort at school (but they're all usually very good) They get what they need when they need it and that might not be at the same time as the others.

If they didn't then yes I think they would have cause to complain about unfairness, but I do try to keep it balanced. When it comes to Christmas and birthdays I like to be fair.

My ds does a sport which means we have had to invest quite a bit in that. My dd1 doesn't do anything like that, so I try to bear that in mind if she suddenly wants or needs something that costs a little more.

I don't keep a spreadsheet totting it all up. I think as long as they know their needs are met equally and expectations are the same that's fair. Your colleague is wrong imo about all having a phone together. What if only one wants or needs a phone?confused

If you have to tell one dc off for stepping out of line more often than the others do then that's fair too. I think all children try to pull that argument from time to time though. grin

TheBreastmilksOnMe Mon 09-Dec-13 10:25:14

Treating children, or anyone for that matter, equally, does not mean treating them the same. It sometimes means treating them differently so that they can have the same opportunities.

An example would be two children need to travel to school by bus. One lives 10 miles away, the other lives 15 miles away. The council pay for bus fares so would give the child living 10 miles away less fare than the one living further away. They are both being treated equally (given the opportunity to get to school) but differently (receiving different bus fares) because of the distances involved.

I think you're right to assess each child's individual needs and treat them accordingly. I would carry on as you are and explain to your son how his behaviour will have consequences as would his brothers if they behaved negatively.

Leviticus Mon 09-Dec-13 10:26:34

The aim should be to treat them FAIRLY rather than equally. It sounds like you already do that. Ignore the whinging!

Mattissy Mon 09-Dec-13 10:29:01

I don't even try. They're considered equally however they rarely get "stuff" at the same time, I do however point this out to them, no harm in a reality check for them.

Buying them all exactly the same at exactly the same time is stupid, surely they don't want the same things all the time?

firesidechat Mon 09-Dec-13 10:29:33

I would say that I treat my children fairly rather than equally. You can't possibly treat them all the same at the same time because like you say each child is different and at a different stage in life.

One of mine went to uni, the other didn't, so one has had a lot of financial support for 3 years. One had a large financial contribution to their wedding, the other will probably want a much more casual do and will probably need less for the day. We have a sort of inheritance which we will definitely share equally because that seems right, but any on going help is on an "as and when basis".

There are other examples, but I would say that financially both have been treated fairly when you take everything in to account. We would always be there for both of our children both emotionally and practically. I hope that they both know that. I think they do.

firesidechat Mon 09-Dec-13 10:37:12

The inheritance isn't the money we are leaving to our children, it's money we had left to us, but don't want.

It goes without saying that our estate gets shared equally when we die.

littlebritain Mon 09-Dec-13 10:41:32

Phew! I didn't think I was being unreasonable so glad you agree. I try my best, I sometimes get it wrong but my best is all I have so lets hope it's enough. I do my best to treat them all the same...I just don't treat them all the same at the same time ha.

I'm still astounded that my colleague thinks you should buy for each child if only needs new clothes....she must spend a fortune. She also said that on her children's birthdays the non b'day child also receives a token gift so they don't feel left out! I now have a "step ford wives" image of her home life where every detail is thought out meticulously and she counts out the carrots and peas to make sure they both have the same.

AbiRoad Mon 09-Dec-13 10:51:30

I have twins (non-id). I always tell them that I am fair but that does not always mean getting treated exactly the same. If one needs new school shoes or trainers and the other does not, then I am not buying 2 pairs just for the sake of it. I dont want to get them exactly the same for christmas as (1) they share a lot of stuff in practice anyway, (2) they dont always want exactly the same, and (3) as twins it is important to treat them as individuals. They have very different personalities and so are disciplined about different things. We do get the occasional grumble when one lkes the look of something the other got for christmas or feels they have been told off abotu something that they other one would not have been told off about, but overall they generally get that we are fair. Occasionally we need to remind them and sometmes I proactively remind them in advance, eg in the run up to christmas I remind them that they need to be polite and grateful about presents even if they prefer something their sister got - they do tend to get money from some relatives so they know they can always buy it for themselves, or sometimes they happily negotiate swaps.

With them being twins, I often get into the nature/nuture debate with people. One of my DTs is and has pretty much always been much more easy going than the other, and the general assumption is that this must be nature. It probably is but it may be that DTD1 (the less easy going one) was very ill when she was tiny and was in pain and therefore demanded (and got) more of our attention. Is DTD2 more easy going because that is her nature or becuase she adapted early to the fact that her sister needed more of our attention? (DTD2 still got all the attention she needed, it was just less). Who really knows? Even now when she is ill, we dont get the same drama about it as we do from DTD1, and life generally is just less of a drama with her.

DeWe Mon 09-Dec-13 10:59:30

But buying them all a phone for Christmas isn't treating them all the same. the oldest could say "it's not fair, I was 3 years older before you allowed me to have a phone". I resented that I was told to wait to a certain age for certain presents and then my younger sibling got it at the same time because it wasn't fair for him to miss out.
Or maybe one doesn't want a phone but wants a laptop. Is it fair that one is leaping up and down because they've got their dream present and the other is looking at the same present thinking, "but I didn't want that!"

You can't always be fair anyway. I remember talking this through with dd1 when she was about 6 and dd2 was about 3.
Example I gave:
I go to the park with dd2 while dd1 is at school, with a friend. Friend buys her dd (saem age as dd2) an ice cream:
Do I:
1 Don't buy dd2 an ice cream: I would have bought dd1 an ice cream if her friend had one at the same age. Also dd2 has to watch her friend having one. Dd1 agreed that wasn't fair.
2. By dd2 an ice cream.
Dd1 pointed out that wasn't fair on dd1 as she didn't get one.
So we then have other options:
A. After school I buy dd1 an ice cream. Then dd2 has to watch dd1 eating it. Dd1 agreed that wasn't fair.
B. After school I buy dd1 and dd2 an ice cream: This was dd1's favoured outcome, but still could see that she then had 1 ice cream, dd2 had had 2 ice creams.

This was hypothetical situation, but even dd1 could see that no solution was totally fair to both of them.

hopskipandthump Mon 09-Dec-13 11:08:26

Your colleague is ridiculous. What if you had a boy and a girl and the girl wanted a new dress for Christmas. Would she buy the boy a (unwanted) dress too? If she had a seventeen year old who wanted driving lessons, would she say no because the fifteen year old wasn't old enough to have them too?

Counting carrots and peas is beyond ridiculous. Her children will end up obsessed with checking that they've got exactly the same of everything. I personally don't give my other children presents on one child's birthday - they each have their own day to feel special, and that's enough. When one child goes to a party and comes home with a party bag, I don't bring out a party bag for the others (but I do encourage the one with the bag to give the others a go with the toy or a bit of the sweets etc. as that's polite/kind). Trying to make things exactly the same for each of them is pointless and counterproductive IMO.

Treating your children fairly isn't about giving them all exactly the same thing, it's about giving each of them what they need. They are different people and they have different needs (and wants).

Children gradually learn the fairness in this, I think.

RabbitsarenotHares Mon 09-Dec-13 11:13:50

In the past I've far more resented being treated the same as my sister than anything else.

We're ten years apart in age; I'm the younger. Of course we had different childhood experiences and have always needed things at different times. I'd far rather these needs were met as and when than my mother getting herself in knots trying to give us the same at the same time.

Eg a big example: my sister needed a new kitchen so my mum gave her a large amount of money towards it, but felt she had to give me the same amount at the same time, else it wasn't fair. Although grateful I'd rather she didn't feel she had to do this and just give me money if she felt I needed it (if she wanted to). I feel it puts too much pressure on her otherwise.

A much smaller, but more irksome example: our uncle used to send the pair of us Valentine's Day cards. I remember my mum telling my sister than the one she'd got was exactly the same type as the one I'd received. Of course my sister would have thrown a tantrum if hers had been different, which is why we'd been bought the same, but to me that ignored the fact that I was a different person to her and it really grated on me. I wouldn't have minded a cheaper card, just a different one.

So to my mind, treating me and my sister fairly means treating us as the people we are, rather than an amalgamation.

Hithere123 Mon 09-Dec-13 11:20:30

My 2 dss mother buys them both presents when it is ones birthday. It's unbelievable!! Last time they both had bikes for dss1 birthday!

OvertiredandConfused Mon 09-Dec-13 11:25:51

I do my best to treat my children equally, but that doesn't mean the same. They get sanctions for bad behaviour and rewards for good behaviour that are equal in the offering (IYSWIM) but will inevitably not be distributed equally every time because it depends on what they do.

They get new shoes, uniform and other essential clothing as needed. Extra clothing and treats are the same amount at about the same time.

They are now 10 and 12 and rarely complain about things being unfair.
Personally, I think it's important that they understand the difference between equality and being treated the same.

Oh, my DH jokes that he despises both his children equally!

Sparklymommy Mon 09-Dec-13 12:15:42

Your colleague has a strange idea of parenting!

I have four children. They are not the same, so why would I treat them all the same? They are, however, treated equally. How daft of your friend!

mumeeee Mon 09-Dec-13 21:27:38

YANBU op but your colleague is, It's important that you treat each child as an individual but that doesn't mean you are not treating them equally.

jacks365 Mon 09-Dec-13 21:36:39

Ask your colleague what she would do in my situation. Dd3 wants a phone for Christmas which I have agreed to, dd1 & 2 both want other things which would have no appeal to the others and dd4 is only 2 so do I buy them all the same item ie a phone or buy them what they want?

Even having multiples of the same sex, I do not treat all of them exactly the same. Different people, different needs as a PP said.

And I can guarantee that your colleague's DC also argue that one has the rounder peas or the more orange carrot!

CaterpillarCara Mon 09-Dec-13 21:45:45

Children should always get exactly the same, of course, as otherwise it is favouritism.

When my son went to his first Scout camp recently, we bought both him and his sister a new rucksack, sleeping baby, torch, pen knife, etc. She is only seven, and won't camp for a few years, but it would be unequal otherwise.

It was really expensive buying DS a full set of ballet gear when his sister sat her first ballet exam last week, but you know, if you want things equal, you have to do it.

Or alternatively, in the real world, EQUAL does not mean THE SAME.

Remember that 2 + 2 = 4, but so too does 3 + 1.

SueDoku Mon 09-Dec-13 22:15:02

Both my (adult) DC are convinced that the other is my 'favourite' (not in a nasty way, just in passing, and they get on very well) so it seems to me that I've got it about right.....grin

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