A number of parenting experts write about this one. They say that parents fall into a trap when they try to treat their kids completely equally, whether it’s buying matching pajama sets or dishing out perfectly measured ice cream scoops or counting the minutes to make sure one sibling doesn’t get more one-on-one time than the other. More important, writes Lawrence J. Cohen in his award winning book “Playful Parenting,” is to give each child what he or she needs.
If one sister needs new shoes, then she should get new shoes without the other also expecting a pair. If Brother needs a lot of help with a homework assignment, then Mom should feel free spending extra time with him – and then explain to Sister why this was important to him. (And then perhaps ask Sister what would be important to her.)
“The demand for perfect equality is a setup for disappointment,” Mr. Cohen writes.
After all, just take a look at the Harbaughs. Born 15 months apart into a sports-crazed family, John and Jim took different paths through football. Jim played for 15 years as a quarterback but never made it to the Super Bowl; John never played professionally but has been a longtime coach. We’re quite sure that dad Jack Harbaugh, himself a longtime college football coach, had different advice for each son, depending on their particular circumstances.