Am I a Bipolar Parent?

Purposeful Parent Tip:  Your children are not identical. Parent them according to their individual personalities.

The other day I was speaking to a friend about my two children’s personalities and how very different they are. “At times I feel like I’m bipolar,” I said. “I parent one child one way and the other completely different.” Sometimes I forget which is which! After reading a post in the Prime Parents Club blog, I see I am not alone. Thank goodness!

I have known, or shall I say suspected, that my children would have completely different personalities simply from the way they were born. My son entered the world without a sound, but with eyes wide open. His teachers would be surprised to hear this. My daughter’s entrance could be heard around the world. Her teachers would NOT be surprised to hear this!

To this day, those early moments depict their personalities to a “T”. Either way,  parenting them in a way that matches their individual personalities leaves me in a tailspin some days. With my son, I need to be short and to the point in our discussions, or shall I say “chats”. He’d never sit long enough for a full discussion with me. My daughter and I could talk for days. (Much to my son’s chagrin!)

It took me a while to really understand that you can’t parent your children the same. They are not the same. They are not robots. Even identical twins have different personalities. Why did it take me so long? No idea. I think the light bulb went off after I became a single parent. When you raise children on your own, you tend to spend more time with them and see the idiosyncrasies of their personalities a bit more.

For example, both of my children have a chore list that they complete each week. One day my son asked me why my daughter had fewer chores than he had. He adamantly claimed that this was not fair. I explained to him that he was better at the chores that were quicker to complete, had few steps, and were repetitive like taking down the garbage cans each week. My daughter is better at multi-step, complex chores like cleaning up the dinner dishes.

When I explained to him that the reason I assigned the chores this way was to capitalize on their individual strengths, he looked at me and said, “Yeah, you’re right.” (I don’t get to hear that too often, so believe me, when I do, it’s a moment!)

My son realized that the chore list was not unfair, but rather the exact opposite in that it fit each of their personalities perfectly. Now, will it always be this way? No idea.  But I will say that it is my daughter who relishes cleaning out her room a few times a year whereas this makes my son’s skin crawl!

Taking the time to know and understand your children and their strengths and weaknesses takes time and attention. I’m not saying that chore assignment took a boatload of time and attention, but things like discipline, awarding privileges, discussions of sensitive topics all must be handled in a way that suits your child’s individual needs.

I enjoyed reading this latest post in the Prime Parents Club blog. It eased my mind in that there are other parents who deal with similar situations and not only am I not alone, but I’m probably not bipolar either.

How do you handle your children’s different personalities when it comes to parenting?

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