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Giving equal time to your children

November 12th, 2008 / 3 Comments

If you have more than one child, you know it is unrealistic to think you can treat them all “equally.”

With different interests, personalities, and ages, it is impossible to be “equal.” The pie cannot be cut precisely the same. You can hear it already – “It’s not fair; he got the bigger piece!”

Our standard response is, (all together now): Life isn’t fair!

However, there is one thing we must be fair about. We want to avoid having one of our children say that he didn’t get an equal amount of our attention. “You spend more time with the baby and don’t pay attention to me.”

Letting our children know that we give them equal attention is important. Children need to have quality and quantity time with us to feel they are valued. Deep inside, they understand that more toys does not mean more love. But they do know that what you spend time on is what is valuable to you.

While we cannot count out each minute of the day and divide them out equally amongst each child, there are ways to show each child that they get equal time.

Here are some ways to give equal time to your children:

1. Equal time once a month. Each child gets a turn once a month to go out for dinner with mom or dad, or both if you can get a sitter for the other children. Your undivided attention is with that child, and each child can anticipate an equal amount of time each month. You can even do it once a week. It doesn’t have to be an expensive meal.

2. Equal time at school events. We go to all our children’s school functions – Back to School Night, Open House, band performances, awards ceremonies, school plays. No matter when it is, we make the time to go to all of them. When there was an awards banquet for my son the same time as my daughter’s orchestra concert, my husband and I split up to go to both. It can get crazy, but none of our kids can say we went to the sibling’s performance but didn’t go to his.

3. Equal time before bed. If you have a nighttime ritual – story time, prayer, rubbing their backs – each child should have an equal amount of time. Bedtime rituals are crucial to fill in the gaps before the day is done. I ask my kids, “Did I do anything that hurt your feelings today?” This gives me a chance to apologize and clear the air before the start of another day. Give words of affirmation and point out what your child did right. Each child can count on an equal amount of time for love to be expressed before they nod off to sleep.

What other equal time do you spend with your children?

Photo by net_efekt

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  1. Yes, that’s good, Katy. I know that when I was a busy church minister, I made a two hour appointment to be out of the house with each boy on alternating Saturdays (so each saturday I was out for at least two hours with one of them). It helped serve up an equal piece of that pie with each boy.

  2. I definitely need to work on number 1… Definitely.

  3. Pete: That’s a good way to schedule it.

    MammaDawg: You have 3 to rotate around. It’ll be fun, esp for hubz to spend father/son time one on one.


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