My family and I used to have a habit of cultivating what I've coined the "equal opportunity birthday bash" for each of my two children. The birthday child in question would have a party of their choosing and a cake all their own, until it was time to open gifts. At that point, it was gifts a-plenty. Not just for the birthday kid, but also for the child not quite another year older. Yes, it felt good, especially when they were at that kinder and second grade combo, when your sibling might be your bestie or might not depending on if it was Monday or Wednesday. So it was calming and somewhat satisfying that on these rainy Saturday party days (there was always rain, for some reason) all was blended and together. Then, somewhere in between too-bright pinatas and crumbled cake on carpet, it would hit me. This was wrong. This was counterproductive. It was also counterintuitive.
Yes, it's just a party. Yes it's just gifts. However, I was whisking away the opportunity to teach my children that celebrating another person, especially a family member, is soul food.
Of course, these band-aids and crutches we coin and project onto our children are out of love. The equal opportunity gift giving and attention was meant to soothe, not be a setback. A closer examine with candor unveils the fact that children can handle the honoring of others if you simply let them. Consequently, since science and past experience tells us that someday our children will have longer limbs and driving privileges, their capacity to bask in the glow of another's celebrations will grow as well.
A solid serve to the equal love concept is the action of taking your children on individual dates. This is definitely not a new strategy, but an often forgotten one. Rotating one-on-one time with children and parents in every possible combo (Daddy and daughter, Mom and son, both parents with one while others chill with Gram, then switch) gives that seperate-but-equal love vibe that both serves its purpose and enriches the family unit as a whole.