It still amazes me how different and unique each of our eight kids are! Yes, they have some similar physical features that are similar, but personality wise, they each stand alone in different areas. Sometimes dealing with your different child is hard, or challenging.
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God made each of our kids different in their own way,but created them all with a purpose that those unique personality traits fit with. It is our job to prepare them for God’s purpose.
That doesn’t mean trying to change them to be like the more compliant child, or to what we want them to be. Rather we should ask God to show us how to best prepare and train each child for His service, and how to love those unique differences in them, as we remember that’s how God created them.
The truth is, sometimes it’s hard to love the differences we see in some of our kids. Perhaps some are more pleasant than the others, or more compliant. Some are more demanding or irritating than others.
We can’t treat them all the same, or train them all the same, because they are different. However, they should all be held to the same Biblical standards, such as obedience, kindness, and respect.
Some of our kids may require more work in these areas than others, but they are essential standards that God says are important.
There is the potential for problems as you deal with those kids that require more work to love, or train. I would go so far as to say that how you deal with their differences can be harmful, if you aren’t careful.
4 Things to avoid when parenting different kids:
1. Don’t compare.
You should never make comments that compare what one child to how their sibling did it. This goes for academics, sports, behavior, etc. Comparing the kids to each other in this way is a lack of affirmation, and can be very hurtful to the child.
2. Don’t favor.
Sometimes we have a child or two that is more likable than another. Some are just more pleasant, and less demanding than others. Do all that you can to keep from favoring one over the other!
Kids will spot that quickly, and get discouraged and feel unloved. They will then feel the need to try to do things to gain your approval or affection.
The same is true of the child that gets into trouble more than the other. They realize that they misbehave and get corrected more than their sibling(s), and need to know beyond a doubt that we love them just as much as the other child.
Always discipline and correct with love, and end the training with positive affirmation. Ask God to give you a strong love for that child!
3. Don’t demand less of the child who requires more of you.
For example, don’t give more work to the “easy” child, because it’s less hassle than getting the other child to do it, or because you know they won’t do it as well. That is not fair to the “compliant” child or the one who isn’t going to be as willing to do the job and do it well.
I had a couple of kids who were prone to complain when asked to do something, and they also often didn’t do a very good job. Over time I realized that often when I was busy or tired, I would simply ask the compliant child to do the job, even though the other child was available.
Why? It was easier at the time. I was taking the path of least resistance! But in the process of doing so, I was doing that less compliant child a great disservice! I wasn’t taking the time to train him in character, obedience, and responsibility. In reality, I was kind of rewarding him for his complaining and laziness, by giving the assignment to someone else.
4. Don’t allow frustration or resentment to grow in your heart toward that child who is not quite as easy to parent, or as easy to love.
Do you find yourself saying their name in a louder voice than the other kids, or do you respond to them less kindly than the others? It’s easy to get into the habit of being frustrated with them and the extra work they demand. If you let that spirit of irritation go, they will pick up on it and pull away from you.
Be firm, but lead them into obedience by loving and accepting them. Be purposeful in choosing to be loving and kind to them, even when they are irritating you.
Think how boring our homes would be if all of our kids were exactly the same! Because they are all different, it keeps us depending on God, and seeking His wisdom. God uses the differences in each personality to help you grow, and to refine you. Embrace those God-given differences and let God change you!