Isn’t The Same
Some parents pride themselves on treating all their children exactly the same. They even say this out loud as if that is the most honorable thing a parent can do.
Unfortunately for them, even if it were possible, it wouldn’t be true.
I do agree that parents should attempt to treat their children equally: equal opportunity, equal resources, equal time but even that isn’t possible. First children get all the attention until more are added and every child after that must share.
There’s nothing equal about that.
For those who obstinately argue the equal-treatment point, the Bible doesn’t help their case.
In fact, the Bible makes a few parenting statements that aren’t so easy to pin down. The meaning is clear but the applications are endless. They need qualification.
There is a reason for this.
Take for example the following two verses addressed to Fathers about children:
Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
On the surface these are easy to understand but the more you think about each statement, the more the picture opens up.
It’s like seeing a dot of New York City on a map. The more you zoom in, the more detailed and complicated the dot becomes.
There are many reasons parent-child relationships can be just as complicated, leading us to understand that parents shouldn’t expect or even try to treat children the same:
Every parent is an individual
Some parents are more ready than others. Let’s face it, no parent starts at 100% preparedness. That’s a sobering thought because a parent can only give their kids what they are.
But wherever the parent starts, he doesn’t stay in the same place, hopefully. Each one grows. Time and experience bring maturity and that in turn changes the way parents handle children.
First children get the greenhorn. Later children benefit from more experience. Meaning, of course, each child is treated differently, and that’s a good thing.
Side Note: It is also important to note that before parents judge children for not being the greatest whatever-the-parents-want-them-to-be, they must remember that the child is partly a reflection of the parent. Childhood development gaps may correspond to parental shortcomings.
Every child is an individual.
Further complicating the issue is the fact that children are different too. They develop at different rates and their abilities vary. Parents do best when they visualize the process rather than impose an inflexible schedule of outcomes for each development point in life.
Children aren’t born equals and they shouldn’t be treated the same. Development schedules can be helpful guidelines. We should never make them absolute rules.
Life circumstances vary for every home and every person in each home.
Studies prove that the first five years of a child’s life are the most important for shaping a child’s ability to learn, achieve and contribute. If that is true, then why doesn’t every child from the same home demonstrate the same level of development?
The short answer is, circumstances in each home, which are in a constant state of flux, impact each person differently. Birth order, sibling rivalry and varying parental involvement change the landscape. Soil erodes. Rocks wear. These changes can be puzzling for both parent and child.
These changes are not faults, but they must be factored in. They may not be excuses for non-development but they can be reasons for adjustments.
And for not treating every child the same.
Life circumstances vary for every individual outside the home.
The pathways each person takes may be similar but the experiences along those pathways will differ.
Grade school isn’t the same for everyone.
I was half deaf in 1st Grade and my teacher was a shouter. That made for some hair raising moments. Her answer to my non-responsiveness was increased volume coupled with threatening gesticulations. Not a good way to start the educational journey.
Some people love first grade. I never saw the attraction.
The point is, saying fathers should nurture, admonish and encourage children is one thing. Figuring out exactly what a father must do with each child, in each situation, to accomplish that is another thing altogether.
Treating each child the same is a recipe for resentment. Don’t say it! Don’t attempt it!