One of the Hardest Challenges in Blended Families: Treating the Kids Equally

Striving for equality in reward, punishment, love and affection

Toby Hazlewood

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Many parents will have heard their kids accuse them of favouring one child over another. It’s presumably made to trigger guilt in the parent and intended to cause hurt, most often when the child’s ego has been bruised. It’ll often be made when the child doesn’t appreciate a punishment that’s been handed down for an infraction, or when they feel you’ve favoured their sibling over them.

I’ve always gone out of my way to treat my kids as fairly and equally as I could. Accusations that I favour one over the other are unfounded in spite of what either might think.

What I wasn’t prepared for in my life as a parent, was how much more challenging the maintenance of this standard would be when I inherited two step-kids; a blessing that came along with my second wife. The opportunities for falling foul of such standards suddenly doubled. The pressure built upon us to ensure not only that I treated my two equally, but also that I treated hers equally too; the same applied for her.

The principle of equality in blended families applies in many more contexts than I’d ever envisaged it might, and these continue to surprise and occasionally torment me as the years go by.

Reward and discipline

First and most obviously, equality is demanded in rewarding and punishing the kids in line with the same standards and expectations of behaviour, discipline and performance at school. This has demanded that in our blended family unit, we unite upon common standards to begin with.

My wife and I shared a common ethos regarding our kids and what we aspired for them to achieve. Nonetheless we’ve had to bridge the gap between our expectations and to reach a common understanding of the standards we expect of them at home and at school.

A further complication has been to ensure that the standards that I have established co-operatively with my ex-wife are also maintained and enforced. She’s my kids’ mother, and co-parents them equally with me on alternate weeks. I’ve had to ensure that in my kids’ eyes, expectations placed upon them…

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Toby Hazlewood

A writer, dad and husband sharing his thoughts, wins and losses to help and inspire others. https://tobyhazlewood.substack.com/