Most parents will tell you they love their children equally. Mothers and fathers will try to convince you they distribute their love evenly — they’ll say they love their babies the same. Not only is this impossible, it doesn’t even work.
When it comes to multiple offspring, the key is to love them differently. Individually. As they are, for who they are. Every relationship you have is unique; this doesn’t change when it comes to your kids.
“I don’t love one more — I love them differently,” says Anita DeVille, mother of two and president of Imagine That Family Care Services, “I love them separately.”
DeVille first became a mother to Madison, 18, in 1997 and reproduced again and gave birth to Sean, 15, a few years later. When her daughter was born, she had a certain personality — different parts about her — DeVille loved every part of her and her experiences.
“Then we had Sean three years later — he didn’t come out exactly like Madison. He came out completely different, with his own personalities,” DeVille says, “He wasn’t a clone of Madison. He was his own person.”
Of course, she loved everything about Sean’s personality. The two children each brought different experiences — it was never a matter of who she loved more. Throughout their childhood, DeVille supported each in their ventures: for Madison it was art and for Sean, it was sports.
DeVille thinks the ‘who do you love more’ question is horrible. She doesn’t think parents should have to explain this to anyone. The only time this type of question came up at home was when the kids heard it from friends or the media. As a parent, she handled it with openness and honesty. She shared a list of traits she loved about each child and emphasized that she loved everything about them individually.
No two people are the same. How can you compare apples to oranges?
“The only thing you can say is equal is if I were to express my love through material items: they each get a scooter, backpacks, movie tickets or the same toy,” DeVille explains, “I can’t give time equally — three hours for each?”
Instead, she follows her intuition and accommodates each child as she sees fit — as they need it. Whatever they need. DeVille is always there to give them both lifts to where they need to go.
It’s about language. The only thing parents might need to change is what they say to children and to other people. Instead of ‘I love my children equally’ consider saying, I love them independently, I love them differently because they’re different people — better yet, you can stop at I love them.
Ultimately, it comes down to communication with people — talk it out. It’s, in fact, pretty simple. Parents shouldn’t feel guilty for giving something to one child and not the other. You’ve customized your care for each individual child.
“That’s exactly what my care providers do,” DeVille explains. Her company Imagine That provides family care services from well trained educators that offer children learning experiences. “We know the basic age and stage of a child, but it isn’t until we get a profile from the parents that we actually start to know their interests.”
As we know, not all five year olds are the same nor do they all have the same interests.
“For teachers and any care providers — there are basics, but it’s not about equality,” explains DeVille with over 26 years of experience working with children in the industry, “It’s about knowing each individual and accommodating their needs — working to develop their skills at their level.”
At the end of the day, it’s about celebrating differences, understanding them and working with who you are developing. Humans, from the get-go are complex beings.
You can distribute gifts equally, split things down the middle and do your best to offer the same amount of affection. But when it comes to loving humans — it’s not about busting out the measuring cups.