Do you have a favorite child or favorite grandchild? The answer to that question is (or certainly should be) NO! Unless, of course, your child/grandchild is an only child, it is unfair to the children to show favoritism.
I have what we call 7 1/2 grandchildren. Four of them belong to my son and three of them to my daughter. The 1/2 belongs to my son’s ex-wife and her husband. With that many children, it would be really easy to pick favorites. Each one of them has a very different personality–even in the same family. They are each their own individual with their own blessings.
So how could you possibly choose one? They each offer something to your life. Mine offer me intelligence, sportsmanship, kindness, beauty, personality, friendliness, sweetness, bravery, and the list goes on and on. They each bring their own piece of themselves into my life and I am incredibly proud of each one of them for different reasons.
There may well be some things about each of them that I like better than others, but I would not ever let that be visible to them. My greatest hope is that in each of their eyes, they see that I love them all equally and unconditionally and that I love ALL the parts of them.
Can you imagine how obviously favoring one child over another feels to the children? It is definitely a form of bullying. How can you possibly bully someone you love so much? Bullying is bullying and is NEVER OK. When your children start having children, you will not believe that you can possibly love as many of them as much as you can. As my son likes to say of the day my second granddaughter was born: “Her heart grew three sizes that day.” (My son is a bit of a smart ass.) One way that I like to treat them equally is that I take them each out for a day near their birthday. Once they are out of a diaper and I can understand them fluently, we go out alone for lunch and shopping wherever they want to go. Until they meet that criteria, a parent has to come along to translate (AND change the diapers). For many years, we all ended up at Build-A-Bear. These days, we all end up at Dave and Buster’s. It is one day a year that they all look forward to. A day spent with just them and me. They don’t have to share my attention with anyone else. They get it all. It was a tradition I started with my own children when they were small. My son’s birthday happened to fall during Spring Training season here in Arizona, so we usually included a trip to a Cubs game on “Brent Day.” He still talks about it and it made him a lifelong Cubs fan (and he was ecstatic when they won the World Series this year). I’m sure you could ask him what he got for his birthday when he was 10 and he wouldn’t remember. But ask him what he did on Brent Day when he was 10 and he probably remembers that.
Another tradition is taking them in pairs to Disneyland (with a parent). It started as a way to celebrate when they turn 13. My children were very kind to space their children very conveniently for me. My first granddaughter was my daughter’s first child; the next year, my son’s first daughter was born; the following year, my daughter’s first son; the next year, my son’s first son; the following year, my daughter’s second daughter; then they got off sync and I lose count without some research for my son’s last two children. Since I couldn’t afford a big Disneyland trip every single year for five years plus, we pair them off. The two oldest girls have been on their trip and the two boys have been on theirs. This year it is time for the third pair of kids to go. The girls have been counting the time to their trip since their brothers returned two years ago. Arrangements have now been made, some swag purchased, and excitement is building for our trip this summer. The one thing that always entertains me is that they are all oh so worried about the last little brother/cousin and who will accompany him on his Disneyland trip. I think he will have plenty of volunteers.
Next year we start a tradition of celebrating high school graduations. I haven’t figured that out yet, but am thinking it will be memorialized by jewelry that will last their lifetime so they will know that I am with them (and watching them) every day of their entire lives.
My life is truly and deeply blessed because I am able to keep these traditions and love on all my grandchildren as individuals. And why shouldn’t I? They are individuals–each their own amazing person. Since I can’t make them stop growing, I’m excited to see how they each live their unique life. And then if you’re lucky enough to maintain some kind of relationship with the “ex’s” in your children’s lives and share your heart with children who share not one single drop of your DNA, you are lucky indeed. There is no child on earth whose life could not be better by being loved. All of them. Equally.