Sorry, I don't have a trick to fix it. But maybe you can adjust your attitude. (I mean that in a very literal, helpful sense - NOT
a scolding one, as in "Young lady, you'd better adjust your attitude"!
) Even in easier situations, parents cannot always make things fair between their children.Our
cast-of-characters includes my husband and me; my
almost-15-year-old twin sons (whose Dad lives in town, so although they spend a lot of time with him, it's for a day or two at a time - they're never gone for long); my husband's
11-year-old son (whose Mom lives across the country, so except in the summer he's basically with us 24-7); and our
The twins are mildly Autistic/developmentally delayed. They still struggle to follow multi-step directions, so they tend to need a lot of reminders/guidance with chores. Even though he's younger, my step-son has gotten to the point that it's important to my husband that he be expected to complete tasks without someone standing over him - because he's capable of that. So he has begun mowing our lawn and that of the elderly woman next door - a chore you'd typically expect the older boys to do. Their
chores are mostly inside the house, so I can keep an eye on them and keep them on-task. The 11-year-old's work takes longer, which I'm sure seems unfair to him. Yet, his work is harder than what the twins do, so he gets paid for it and they don't.
Also, step-son is "gifted" and we're sending him to our parish school, which is academically top-notch. But it doesn't have the resources to deal with the twins' special needs, so they go to public school. The twins like their school, but they do have a sense that their little brother is being sent somewhere special they don't get to go. At the same time, the 11-year-old is jealous because he has to wear a Catholic school uniform and the twins get to wear whatever they want and ride a bus with their friends.
And at some point the 2-year-old is going to figure out that his older brothers all have different families that he's not part of. The twins have a wealthy Dad who takes them all kinds of cool places. The middle brother has a Mom who lives on the coast. And all he's going to have is his own two boring parents in the same boring house, who are together all the time! When will HE get HIS weekend visitation with somebody more exciting?
Bottom line: Sometimes we all
must tell our kids, "I know this doesn't seem fair on the surface. But each person -even in our family - is an individual and has different circumstances and needs. Your Dad (or Step-Dad) and I are doing the best we can to meet everybody's needs and take into account everybody's different circumstances. As long as you're a child in our home, you're just going to have to trust us, even though everything won't always be identical." You have to get yourself to the place where you can say that and not feel guilty about it, because you shouldn't. It's true. Your daughter gets to be with you full-time. Her step-sibs don't. But she's also expected to follow your rules full-time. They must be extended a little bit of grace, because they have to adjust to different expectations at the different houses. Getting them to pick up their shoes may be an accomplishment, for them. It's not an accomplishment for your daughter. In parenting her, you must expect the best she can do, in spite of her step-siblings. It's not equal, but it IS fair, in the global sense.