Monday, July 25, 2011

The Differences of Each Child

As you get more seasoned in parenting, you begin to realize something - each child is different.

So far, Sarah has gone through her absolute girly phase, emo/goth - I am so misunderstood phase, and we are currently in the I want my own independence and can't wait to move out of here phase.

Elizabeth is currently in the between the I love all things princess and the I am trying to be an older even though I"m not quite 10 years old phase.

Beka at this point is just happy to play dress up, snuggle with Daddy and she's thrilled to play outside and has very few cares in the world.

Each of my daughters is definitely strong-willed and try to be as independent as they are allowed. Naturally, this means that each one is learning the rules of speaking with a polite tone and not sassing mom or dad. They each love to test the limits, but each of them goes about it in a different way. Sarah spent most of her middle school years fighting anything and everything I had to say, because I was the one who said it. Somewhere between this fighting for her own autonomy and living with rules, structure and discipline she picked up a good deal of the lessons we had to teach her.

Elizabeth on the other hand is not a fast learner in some areas. She is the child who kept putting her tongue on an electric cord repeatedly until it hurt too much. Chris just shook his head, he had tried to warn her, but when she began to cry he had to pick her up - the Papa Bear in him couldn't let her just cry. Each of the older girls reaches a certain age where we know they are ready to have some more responsibility. Elizabeth is an awesome dishes and kitchen helper. The autism in her demands structure and cleanliness. By the time Sarah was 10 years old she had an atrociously messy room. Now at 16 after getting onto her repeatedly she realizes she must keep it clean and she does a good job at doing so.

Sarah remained on kitchen duty for YEARS!!!! Elizabeth will remain on kitchen duty while I teach her the ins and outs of the kitchen and what cleaning . Elizabeth is very particular and likes to have things perfect, where Sarah wanted it to just be over. She remained on kitchen duty for six years before realizing that taking the short cuts only ticks us off and costs her computer time.

Beka seems to be a bit more stubborn. Especially once she is upset. Like Sarah once she's mad, she doesn't care if it gets her into trouble, she will scream, yell and be downright rude to me, even if it means she has to spend all day in her room. Sarah still goes through jags where she will purposefully make me mad until she loses privileges because she's in a mood. Elizabeth on the other hand, hates to have anyone mad at her, and she will go out of her way once she's had time to calm down to say she is sorry with deference and humility. So she tends to not be grounded that long.

For my part, I try to keep each girl separate from the other and remember that what worked for one child may not work for the other. Take Sarah's mp3 away and you would think her head might explode. For Elizabeth it is grounding her from television. She really, really loves television. For Beka it's a stern word and a well timed, time-out.

Each girl is different, each girl loves different things. Sarah is music and English. Elizabeth loves science and math. Beka enjoys matching things and play with her Leapster. She and Elizabeth both love puzzles.

An interesting difference I have noticed is Elizabeth and Beka seem to get along very well with the occasional fight. However, Sarah and Elizabeth together are two first born children who begin fighting for power and to assert that they are the alpha females. And yet, each of them can get along with Beka very well. See differences . . . they are in each family dynamic.

By the way these differences are often seen in each teen in the youth group as well. The question is how to bring them together and help them bond and become a community? These are things I am working on right now as a youth pastor.

How are you children different from each other? How do you deal with these differences? Do you have different punishments for each child or do you keep it the same for each child regardless of their differences? How do you think this works in your family? Is it maybe time to consider some changes?

I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,

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