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Parenting Advice: 5 Ways to Make All Your Children Feel Equally Loved

Raising children is like juggling Jell-O. It’s messy and slippery and the next thing you know, something’s gone splat.

Then you find yourself in a blended family. You thought you had trouble keeping three “flavors” in the air, and then all of a sudden there are five.

Of course, the stakes of raising step-children are much higher. Kids are sensitive to imbalances,  especially if you’re handling a problem child. Even more than others, they’ll jump on any sign that you might love one kid more than another.

Of course you tell them that you love them all equally, but they won’t believe it until you show them.

Raising Children Who Feel Cherished

When you’re co-parenting, you have to make a conscious effort to show that you love each of your children equally. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time – here are five tidbits of co-parenting advice.

1. Create a tradition or ritual with each child.

One-on-one connections are important to making children feel loved. With each of your children and step-children, develop a ritual that the two of you can share together.

  • Go to the park and play together.
  • Have “girl time” or “guy time” with your same-gender kids.
  • With your opposite-gender kids, have a “daddy date” or “mommy date.”
  • Cook or bake with your child.

Set a regular schedule for these special times. Once a week, once a month, or whatever your schedule can manage. Letting the child look forward to his or her special time is part of the magic.

2. Listen to each child talk about their passions.

Our interests are part of what make us individuals, and that’s just as true for children as it is for adults. Encourage each of your kids to talk about what they love, whether that’s soccer, science, or books. It’ll make them feel important and remind them that you love them for who they are, not just as one of “the kids.”

3. Show affection regularly with each child.

Physical affection gives children a tangible reminder that you love them. Hugs are especially great because they reduce stress hormones and helps them to feel safe near you. And it works both ways – you get the benefits too! Don’t force it, though. Kids need to know that they’re the bosses of their own bodies. If your kids prefer high fives to hugs, that’s fine.

And be mindful of how often you cuddle “your” kids versus your step-kids. If one kid prefers more affection than another, that’s okay, but be as equitable as you can with your hugs and kisses.

4. Make each child a “helper” for one chore.

Working together cultivates closeness. Pay attention to what household chores each kid prefers and “assign” each one to a particular activity. If Kid A helps you with the dishes, Kid B can vacuum with you on Saturday, and so on.

5. Do individual tuck-ins.

The moments before bed provide great opportunities for bonding between parent and kid. If you can work it out, try to have at least one bedtime ritual with each kid.

One meaningful way to do this is to say prayers one at a time instead of all together. You have plenty of other opportunities to pray as a family – mealtimes and Sundays, for example. Bedtime can be your chance to share God with each child, and that helps each of them experience God’s unconditional love.