My father once told me that he loved his three boys equally, but he didn’t love us all the same. What I took him to mean by this is that he did not love any one of his sons more than any other, but that the way he showed his love was different for each of us. It made sense to me, as he helped and supported each of us in our education, in our marriages, and in the ways we love our own children.
I strive for equity as I raise three boys. I try not to treat them all as a singular entity with singular needs, even though it would make it so much easier. My wife often critiques the way that I put the exact same portion of food on each of our children’s plates, struggling to differentiate between a 9 year old stomach and that of a 16 year old. I find myself grouping the older two kids into a singular set of expectations for school work and screen time, even though they need very different types of redirection to get things done. My 9 year old is often with me as we do errands, and so will often get to join in the spoils of last-minute purchases in the checkout aisle.
These are not equitable according to their needs, but rather to my needs for simplicity and satisfaction. It is far easier to give everyone blueberries rather than try to remember who doesn’t like them this week. It is far more efficient to get everyone up at the same time rather than try to plan out exactly when each of them need to wake up based upon their own morning routine.
But, it doesn’t lead to better outcomes. When I take the time to consider my individual children’s needs for nutrition or for sleep, I get to skip the frustrated conversations about my lack of empathy. When I give my middle son another hour of screen time while he is out for a sleepover with friends, I demonstrate my own connection to his needs, as they happen. The outcomes I want for my kids are better met when I see them for who they are individually, addressing them by name rather than as a group.
And just as I watch 90s movies with my oldest, learn still more about Pokémon cards from my youngest, and listen as my middle child sings every lyric to Hot Shower for the 50th time in the car on the way to soccer, I am ready for any chance I am given to show them I notice what makes each of them special. This is equitable opportunity, making sure that there are enough moments in which I can love them differently, rather than all the same.
@themasculinitydetox “My father once told me that he loved his three boys equally, but that he didn’t love us all the same.” The Detoxing Man is Equitable (in opportunity and outcome) – 29 of 30. How can we hold onto what makes others unique so that we can love them more clearly? #toxicmasculinity #positivemasculinity #masculinitydetox #patriarchy #equity #love #family #father #fatherhood ♬ original sound – The Masculinity Detox