Having multiple children is a headache for parents. The word “equitable” takes on its full meaning. We want to give everyone what they need; it takes crazy energy and the guilt is never far away…
It is very agreed in our society that we should love our children in the same way. In theory, we agree. In practice, many nuances have to be put in place. It is often not about love, but rather about each other's needs.
Being fair with your children does not mean giving as much and in the same way. Each child has different needs depending on their age, their developmental stages and their temperament. We often feel guilty for not giving as much to one or the other, but it is important to remember that we are giving what the child needs. We tend to project our fears, our hopes onto them.
Stability and balance
Wanting to be as available with the second but not sparing the first. Offering time and attention to everyone but with less energy and fewer hours to devote… It's a real headache! It takes time for the family tofind stability after each big change.
Feeling torn is normal: it takes patience to tame everyone's needs when there are changes, regressions or when the family is growing. The balance is worked on in the medium term. When we feel a cognitive dissonance, that is to say the tension and the ambivalence between our beliefs and a lived situation, it is essential to take care of our emotions. Why am I uncomfortable? What can I put in place to reduce my state of discomfort?
As parents, we are often nostalgic for the past, and for the life that goes too fast. It is all the more difficult in these times to be objective about the needs of our children without worrying about everything we would have liked to do or be.
Equal and fair are two different concepts. In fact, children need it to be fair, so that they feel their needs are respected. Some require more care and attention at times; it's important to focus on who is most in demand, most vulnerable or most disorganized to ensure the best energy possible.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some ideas and tips to put in place.
- Give as much individual time as possible to each of your children, a few minutes a day, it's already a great strategy to maintain the bond. I'm talking here about a real moment, without interruption. It is not necessarily aboutto do activities, but to have a privileged and complicit moment. Having
- quality time together also remains an asset for developing the family rhythm and establishing one's place among siblings.
- The most difficult child is the one who needs the most attention, even if it is more difficult to love him or accompany him in these moments… If he does not collaborate or he wishes to attract attention in a negative way, it is time to deposit himself with him. He may not yet know how to formulate his need.
- Ask for help: the entourage, the relevailles network, family helpers (on the community side) or even the daycare service. Fatigue sometimes prevents us from seeing clearly and remaining objective; a step back usually allows us to find the right path to change our angle and perspective when going through a difficult phase.
Children need their own space, toys all to themselves. They need to feel that their place is not threatened, and for that we must be the guarantors of their peace. If the moments of sharing are a torture, it is because it is time for everyone to refocus on themselves, by taking physical distance. Do not hesitate to make attempts to modify the routine if you feel that you are not yet achieving enough harmony. Education is made up of trial and error. Being a parent can be learned!
Avoid projecting your needs onto your children. We too are fromof a sibling and often we take with us, our wounds, our promises and our shortcomings. Our children have another story to live. What matters is presence, availability and observation. What do they need? What belongs to me in what I observe and what makes me uncomfortable? What do I need to feel competent?
- Communicate. It is very important to tell our children about our limits, our needs, and how we feel. Children are very attentive and when they grow up, they tell us very relevant things. If they feel cared for, they will be able to open up, even in fragile times.
- Guilt is a compass that helps us put needs into perspective. What is wrong and what can be changed. It is necessary to listen to each other in order to consider new possibilities. Duality is natural, and so is the feeling of being torn, but there are many tools one can use to lessen the discomfort and see these feelings with fresh eyes. To be torn is to love and want to take care.
References: There are no perfect parents, Isabelle Filliozat
Effective Parents, Thomas Gordon