Every parent with multiple children runs into this issue eventually—one of your children (or maybe all of them) eventually believe that you favor one kid over another. It’s inevitable.
In our house, my middle son Johnny is convinced that we favor our youngest son Sean over him in every dispute, and there are many, many, many disputes. Johnny is a powder keg with a short fuse, and Sean is a lit match. They can’t be in the same room together without something happening.
After about seven years of this, I’ve officially reached the end of my tolerance. When disputes erupt now, I simply send them to different corners of the house, and tell them to stay away from each other. Then, when tempers have cooled, I’ll try to convince each of them to take responsibility for their own actions. It works for a day or two, and then match ignites fuse again, and blammo.
This weekend I entered the Johnny/Sean Fight Twilight Zone.
We were at a picnic for Sean’s soccer team and Johnny came up to me asking for a bandage for his hand. There was a cut just below the knuckle.
“What happened to your hand?” I asked.
“Sean,” he said.
“How did he do that to your hand?” I asked.
“He did it with his tooth.”
“He bit you?” I asked.
“No, his tooth dug into my hand when I punched him in the mouth.”
“YOU PUNCHED HIM IN THE MOUTH?”
“You always take Sean’s side! Always!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“OK,” I said, giving the benefit of the doubt to Johnny against my better judgment. “How in the world is this Sean’s fault?”
“He was totally asking for it,” he said. “He’s so annoying. We were playing soccer, and he was just…arrrgh….so annoying.”
“So you had no choice but to punch him in the mouth.”
Again, I know parents aren’t supposed to take sides in disputes, but there are times when one kid is simply more wrong than the other. I’m going to take the side of the kid who got punched in the mouth over the side of the kid who punched him nearly 100% of the time, especially when the puncher is four years older than the punchee.
Call me old fashioned. Call me unfair. Call me hopelessly biased.