I find it really interesting when people say, ‘Well, they had the same parents and the same upbringing so how come they’ve turned out so differently?’ I must admit to thinking these thoughts too on occasion but that stopped when I had my own children. When you begin to think about it, how can they really have had the same upbringing?
I have 3 boys 19 months, 3 and virtually 7. They all had completely different births –induced ventoused, natural labour forceps and C-section. They were all completely different babies -1 screamy and 2 dreamy. They have walked at different times 12 months, 19 months, and 14 months. They are all totally different in personality, 1 is precociously reasonable, one is a loveable thug and the other is a fearless leader. They have different temperaments being placid, fiery and jealous. My boys are so different from each other that one approach in parenting style wouldn’t possibly have worked.
My reasonable son needs confidence building and quiet encouragement. He hates overt praise and prefers modest acknowledgement of achievements whereas number 2 son is a sticker monster who is upset if he doesn’t get his sticker from his teacher. He parades his sticker proudly and can remember exactly why he was given it. No 3 son couldn’t give two hoots what you think about anything he does as his huge amounts of self-esteem will sail him through life no doubt. (‘I’m marvellous me, why do I need you to tell me?’) It’s exactly because they are so different that they couldn’t have been treated the same. We try not to confront fiery no 2 son we distract him and encourage no 1 son to do the same. We openly praise no 2 whilst quietly patting no 1 on the back. No 3 is only 19 months but differs from the other 2 in that he he’s had far more independence than his brothers from a very early age.
Don’t forget also that hubbie and I have changed our parenting style over time. No 1 son was parented ‘through paranoia’ thinking of all the bad things though could have happened to him whereas no 2 was allowed more freedom as we laughed at all the silly things we did with no 1 for example packing the baby bag for any eventuality just short of Armageddon and sterilizing everything that went anywhere near him. For no 2 we chilled out and that must have had some sort of an effect. With number 3 we were 5 ½ years down the parenting path before he arrived, that’s 5 ½ years of mistakes, sleepless nights, hazardous situations and enough sick and poo accidents to last a lifetime. This must all count towards different childhoods for each of our children?
As our boys get older we will still respond to their needs in the differing ways we did their baby and toddler years. They are totally different children who will grow into different teenagers and eventually men. Those who say they treat their children all the same surely are getting it totally wrong or are they just oblivious to their children’s individuality? One size does not fit all and as parent we need to realise this and respond accordingly.