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Different Rules for Different Kids

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Guest blogger Michelle Kemper Brownlow: When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher instilled in me something I'd never learned while in college: A good teacher will teach each student differently. Not all students are equal; some need a little more of us than others. Her creative way of stating this truth is something I have never forgotten: "You wouldn't give a whole classroom of kids the Heimlich Maneuver if only ONE was choking, would you?"

rules book
Good point! I have kept this quote in my arsenal of mommy-isms to avert the guilt when I allow one child to do something that I have told the other he couldn't. 

My son has had difficulty connecting with kids in school because he is easily intimidated and very sensitive. He is not athletic; he doesn't enjoy sports. He is the theater-arts kid that every teacher loves but many kids tease. I allowed him to have a Facebook account (against my better judgment) after I had previously set a rule that no one in our house under the age of 14 would have one. 

The summer before he turned 13, I sat and helped him set one up. Why? Because in his case, it was a faceless way to connect. I knew he would be less intimidated from the other side of a computer screen. It has worked like a charm. He is confident, has a ton of friends and now lets those comments from the mean kids just slide off his back. I know the risk of bullying, so I keep a close eye on what goes on -- and so far, it has been a blessing. 

My daughter, 11, now thinks she's going to get a Facebook account because I broke my original rule of 14 and let her brother have one prior to that magic age. In her case, though .... She is one of those kids who just lets most drama roll right off her back. Someone can say something that hurts her feelings or makes her mad, but after she vents about it, it's over and she doesn't dwell on it. However, that being said, she is just as sensitive as her brother, and I would be concerned that having things that bug her posted on her wall (or her friends' walls) would just eat at her and cause unneeded friction. It would be harder for her to just let it roll off her back, because it would be public -- out there for kids to see. And as sexist as it sounds, she IS a girl, and girls get catty. So for her, my rule of 14 stands. 

I parent all three of my children differently, and so far it has worked well and they understand my reasoning. They might not like it, but they get it. 

Now I have to end this article, because my 5-year-old needs to change his "status."

next: Holiday-Shopping Lessons from My 11-Year-Old
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen December 9, 2010, 4:38 AM

I loved this article and agree with it completely. Each person is different and has different needs, it’s great to hear a parent say this. Even though my girls are only 2 years apart they are very different and need different things.

KS December 9, 2010, 11:09 AM

Parenting can be tough, really really tough. There is no magic formula and bending the rules for one child may be great or it may make their siblings feel like they are being favored.

I would not have made the same decision but I absolutely understand and empathize with why you did. It’s so difficult to put into words how hard it is to watch your child struggle with any aspect of their life, that’s one thing I can completely empathize with.

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