I recently read Out of the Box Parenting by Praise Fowowe. In this book, he asked a vital question: Imagine that you birthed three sons. The first is Bill Gates, the IT guru and one-time richest man in the world. The second is Michael Jackson, the late pop singer and one-time richest musical artist in the world. The third is Cristiano Ronaldo, athlete and richest footballer in the world. Each of these boys have different interests, different inclinations and different behavioural patterns. How would you raise them to become the accomplished men they are today? Would you take them all to the same school or force them to each pass the same subjects? Would you require them to attend the same extra-curricula activities or join the same clubs?
You are probably saying ‘No!’ because you have the benefit of knowing who each of these men have become. However, you should ask, is there a possibility that you are making a mistake raising your children the exact same way in spite their different interests and behavioural patterns.
No two children are the same – even twins. To bring the best out of each child, parents must act as though they have only one child per time. In fact, it is very likely that parents with only one child (who do not over-indulge) will raise a well-balanced and productive child than those with many to train at the same time.
This is why contrary to popular opinion, I am a proponent of reasonable spacing between children. While I do not have any research data to back this up, my gut tells me that 3 years or more is a necessary age-gap between children. This therefore affords parents enough time to groom the older child and establish a system that allows him/her to act independently while the parents cater to the needs of their younger baby. Another benefit of generous spacing is that it reduces the possibility of copying the style of parenting used for the older child to apply on the younger. Since each child is unique, it is therefore necessary to apply different discipline strategies and possibly educational practices in their upbringing.
I know that this thought-process may not sit well with many parents, especially those of African origin. Just today, I got ‘counselled’ by a lady who was wondering why my wife and I have not yet had a second child since our daughter is already past age 2. Many women are advised to give birth to all the children they desire in quick successions so that they can ‘move on with their lives’. Truth is that parents hardly ever get to move on until the children are old enough to marry or independent. So, why not simply space them more and then groom them so that they are set on a path to attaining independence earlier in life?
I can imagine that some parents may be concerned that employing different discipline strategies on their children may not be fair. It is important to teach your children that uniformity is not same a fairness. The best way to judge fairness is by giving each person what they need. So, you can parent fairly without treating each child the same way.
These are my two cents. I hope this common sense brings uncommon wisdom to those who take the risk to apply.