September 2018

Why One Child Turns Out So Well, But Not The Other

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By Chris Jackson

Have you ever thought, “I just don’t get why all my kids didn’t turn out well; I parented them all the same, so what went wrong?” Bingo. That’s just it: if you want all your kids to turn out the same (well-adjusted), parent them differently. When you parent them the same, they can and do turn out differently (and often not in a good way).

You may have heard the recent news about a local police chief’s son who was arrested. On the department’s Facebook page, the chief stated, “His sisters (one corporate and the other about to start law school), are at a loss to understand any of this. It’s difficult for us to comprehend how one of three kids who grew up with the same parents, under the same roof, with the same rules and same values and character could wander so far astray. We simply don’t know why, or how we got here.” Over the years, I’ve heard many parents, including my own, struggle to understand the same thing.

The path to becoming well adjusted is different for each child, so when all siblings are given the same path, they turn out differently. I’ve seen families in which one sibling has friends, a job, and the means to live independently, while the other doesn’t get along with anybody and de- pends on others to get by. Parents in these families ask how that could have possibly happened, given that both children were parented the same. The answer is that the child who is off course needed some differ- ent rules, structure, consequences and experiences growing up.

Providing these uniquely for each child is more work up front, but it’s less work on the back end when your kids are older. A child best receives her sense of worth and direction from her parents in ways specific to that child. We may not be aware of the fear, hurt and pain some of our children feel. Misbehavior and dependency are often driven by one’s emotional injuries. In order to turn out well-adjusted like their siblings, these emotionally injured children need structure and support from their parents that’s different from the kind given to their siblings.

I have the utmost respect for the chief’s lifetime of service and sacrifice, and I’m grateful for all who put their lives on the line to serve in law enforcement. I can’t imagine what the chief and his family are going through. I can’t imagine what the victim in the case and his family are going through, either.

As you read this now, you may be wondering how your children turned out differently, or wondering if they will. With the revelation that children can and will often go astray under uniform parenting, I’m hoping to en- courage parents like you to consider ways to meet your child’s needs differently from the way the needs of his siblings are met.

Until next time, parent well.

Chris Jackson is the afternoon drive DJ at KFOX radio and is working on a book about raising your kids like rock stars.

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