How Does The Same Parenting Style, Produce Totally Different Kids?

Lately, I’ve been asked this question quite a bit…on Facebook, via DM on Twitter, in my email, and my most favorite place to be accosted with this question…while standing in line at the market.  Parents are sometimes left in pure shock when they have  one child who is almost angelic

Good boy

and then there is that other one,

Tantrum boy shooting the finger.

You know the one that causes parental tears…and I’m not talking the happy kind, either.  (I can already picture the kind of neighborhood he’s going to live in.  It’s going to be all brick, with bars on the windows and bars as doors.  Oh, and it’s going to have a nice-barbed wire, electric fence with knife-like prongs at the top of it.  What do you think?)

I may get many different opinions here (which I get all the time when this topic arises) on what could possibly be the reason for the differences in children who are reared in the same home, and presumably, in the same manner.  Here are my two cents:

When we have a child who is “totally” different from the others or that first one, and I mean different in a not-good kind of way, we often feel that we had to have erred in some way.  And, I’m just the one to agree with you.  Say for instance, your eldest child is the angelic one I mentioned, then your youngest turns out to be a Jeffrey Dahmer or a Tamar Braxton…two opposite ends of the spectrum, but both cut from the same cloth, all the same. You know what I mean.  Oh, you say you don’t know what I mean?  Well, OK…let me elaborate:  Jeffrey was a serial killer/eater, and Tamar is an adult woman who behaves so poorly, she makes a 3 yr old tantrum thrower, look like apple pie.  And we all know how nice apple pie is, don’t we?

When we’ve had kids, that first one is probably the most scariest situation to be in, so you try your damndest to make sure that you do everything right in their regards.  You discipline properly, you teach them to be kind, you teach them manners and how to be oh-so polite.  Then one day you look up, and there is this AWESOME human being standing in front of you.  You breathe a sigh of relief and think “That was easy enough!.”

Then you decide to have #2 or #3 or #4.  By this time, everything is old hat to you and I must say, not all that important anymore.  {Been there.  Done that.}  So, you’re a little more lenient with this last one, and because of this leniency, a different child is bred.  But in your mind, because they were brought up in the same house, you assume that every rule and regulation you had for the first one, you also used on the subsequent one.  Sadly, we’ve come to find, that is so not the case, in many cases!

As parents who work outside the home, sometimes juggling more jobs than the law allows, we get tired after a while and we don’t pay as much attention to the younger ones as we did with the older ones, and there lies the problem.  I have two daughters who both turned out the same (they’re so awesome-tastic, they are always the inspiration for my parenting guides). Yes, they each have their own personalities, but for the most part and in every area that counts, they are almost identical.  I raised them exactly the same.  I have a step-daughter who was raised part-time in our home and the other time she lived with her biological mother. And although I love her very much, she is nothing like the daughters I bore, and it is obvious that she was not in our home full-time. When she was taught properly in our home, she would always return to a mom who wasn’t the kind of parent that we were, and who not only didn’t parent her child properly, but she also didn’t re-inforce the good teaching we would instill while she was in our care.  Consistency is the key in raising kids.  If you want those results which you notice as phenomenal in your awesome-tastic kids, then you need to continue to do that, which yielded those results in the first place with all subsequent kids.

My adult daughter said to my husband and I recently that she wanted us to raise her younger sister, “differently than the way we raised her.”  My husband, shocked at hearing her say this, presented this line of questioning to her:

*Did you ever get into any trouble at school when you were young?  “NO”  was her response

*Did you graduate high school?  “Yes”

*Did you have amazing opportunities as a child/young adult such as the opportunity to travel and study abroad?  “Yes”

*Did you make it through college and grad-school without getting pregnant? “Yes”  (I was holding my breath waiting for him to ask, “Did you make it through college and grad-school with your virginity still intact?”  But, of course he would never let those words come out of his mouth.  But, I surely would have!  Actually, it would have been the FIRST question I threw out!)

So, why then, my darling, would we change anything in the way of how we parent?  Look how you turned out.  Tell me again, why would we change our methods with your sister?”  She had no response.  I don’t think I have ever loved my husband as much as I did at that moment when he put it all on the table for her to see so plainly.

I’m going to close now, but dear parents, please know that CONSISTENCY is the key.  Parenting is not a part-time job, it’s full-time and then some.  If you got it right the first time, why let up or change anything the second go-round?  We don’t fix something unless it’s broken, and this model of (almost) perfect parenting that I’ve laid out for you, is the way to go.  If you haven’t picked up THE GOOD MOMMIE’S GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS, please do.  It’s our parenting blueprint for the here and now, as well as the future.  It’s a #MUSTREAD because it’s a #MUSTNEED!

I’d like to hear from you, especially if you have children who are worlds apart in their differences.  How do you think you did in your parenting?  Now, how did you really do?

See you next time, and until then, make it a great day…or not.  The choice is all yours!

When your child throws a tantrum...

send them to Nonnie’s house!  I promise they’ll be returned brand new.

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3 thoughts on “How Does The Same Parenting Style, Produce Totally Different Kids?

  1. A great post, Nonnie! Our second child was raised the same way as our first, but turned out very differently. Whether or not it was our fault, we blame ourselves anyway. I very much agree with your principle of consistency.

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  2. Good tips Nonnie. Consistency is very important in dealing with the young ones. When my three kids were growing up, my biological child was always wanting preferential treatment, while the other two would watch to see if I would treat her differently. I never did. My other kids were a lot older than my biological kid, so they babied her behind my back. She would bribe them into do her job without my knowledge. In the end, I would say that they turned out a lot better prepared for life than their little sister.
    What I am trying to say is that sibling influence amongst other influences, can also contribute in making a younger child to come out differently.
    I have your book already, and it is up on my reading list.

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