Welcome to Sara from the incredible blog Happiness is Here. Sara shares her life with four wonderful children and is here to paint a picture of how we can be a parent ally to all of our children amidst their different, individual needs…

Being an ally to children means respecting their rights and autonomy, but how does that work when you have multiple children to consider? It can sometimes be tricky to juggle the needs of everyone in the family, but definitely not impossible. Here are some things to consider when striving to be an ally to all of your children…

All Children Are Equal

Being an ally to all of your children means recognizing that everyone is equal. Rights are not dependent on age. This means that everyone in the family is able to have their needs, wishes, opinions, and feelings respected, heard, and given equal weight and consideration.

When making day to day decisions, everyone’s opinions are considered equally. There is no such thing as different rules for different ages. Children are respected as whole people from the moment they are born and their autonomy and freedom is protected.

While development and capabilities vary with age, rights do not. Children are not limited or devalued dependent on age.

Considering the Needs of Everyone in the Family

Being an ally to multiple children can sometimes be quite tricky. How do you ensure everyone is able to get their needs met?

What about when your 2-year-old wants to stay home and mix paint all day but your 8-year-old really needs to go out for some social interaction?

What do you do when you’re stuck in the car together and one child needs quiet while the other needs to let out some pent up energy by singing the Frozen soundtrack at the top of their lungs?

How to you respond when both children are having a disagreement over a certain toy and who gets to play with it?

In these kinds of circumstances, where one child’s needs seem to be in opposition to another’s, I think the secret is to come from a place of helpfulness and support, rather than micro-management, rules, and control.

You absolutely do not need to have the answers to all of your children’s problems. Nor do you need a set of rules to enforce. That would be exhausting! You just have to be an ally in helping work out solutions. Your role is supporter, not controller, and that’s much more peaceful! You don’t need to have a script for working out every situation, you just need to be understanding, supportive, and communicate respectfully.

Some helpful phrases…

“I’m hearing you need/feel…”

“It seems like…”

“How can we work this out?”

“Do you have any ideas?”

“Would you be willing to…?”

“Let’s think of a solution we can all feel comfortable with.”

Most importantly, refrain from judging the validity of needs, especially based on age. An ally does not place greater importance on a 12-year-old’s needs over a 4-year-old’s needs. Just because a need may seem trivial to someone with greater experience, does not make it any less valid for the person experiencing it. Our needs and perspectives change with age, but they are no less deserving of respect at any time.
How to be an ally to all of your children - Parent Allies

Focusing on Connection

Allies know that parenting is all about connection. Children thrive when given unconditional love and acceptance. And when parent-child connection is strong, the need for coercive and disconnecting forms of parenting becomes obsolete.

“The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.” – Pam Leo

But connection is not a one-size-fits-all thing! Children are as unique as adults and cannot all be lumped into the same category. What fills one child’s love tank, might not be as meaningful for another. Allied parenting means recognizing the individuality of children and seeking to know them for who they are. This includes connecting with each child in ways that are uniquely meaningful to them.

Encouraging an Atmosphere of Allies, Not Competitors

Sibling disagreements are always going to be a part of family life, but encouraging an atmosphere of allies amongst siblings is immensely helpful in mitigating sibling rivalry. We are a team, all looking out for each other, all committed to helping everyone get their needs met, rather than in competition for limited parental love, attention, or approval.

How can we encourage connected sibling relationships?

Don’t compare children. Comparing is a sure way to promote jealousy and competition. Each child is unique and valuable in their own ways and comparison devalues that, causing children to vie for parental acceptance.

Don’t take sides. When we take sides in an argument, one child feels unheard, hard done by, and resentful of their siblings. Refrain from judging and work things out together.

Encourage respectful communication. Helping children hear and respond to each other’s feelings and needs through nonviolent communication encourages a relationship of compassion and respect.

Exploring Your Triggers

“A certain child enters our life with its individual troubles, difficulties, stubbornness, and temperamental challenges in order to help us become aware of how much we have yet to grow. The reason this works is that our children are able to take us into the remnants of our emotional past and evoke deeply unconscious feelings.” – Dr Shefali Tsabary

Children have a remarkable ability to mirror exactly our own experiences from childhood, triggering us to act as that hurt and confused child once more. Being an ally to our children means exploring why we are triggered in certain circumstances and doing some internal work in order to move past those feelings.

It means exploring the unique interactions we have with each of our children and how aspects of their personalities may trigger us in different ways. Why are certain feelings often evoked from interactions with a particular child? What do their actions bring up from our own childhood? How can we grow from this experience instead of becoming stuck and reactive?

Our children can provide great opportunities for healing and growth, if we let them. Being an ally means committing to providing for their emotional development by dealing with our own baggage that has the potential to interfere.

Acceptance for Everyone

Being an ally means accepting each child for their individuality and what they bring to the family. All children are different, and have something wonderful to contribute. Being an ally to all of your children means not valuing certain personality traits over others, e.g. outgoing vs shy, sporty vs academic. There are no inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ personality traits (as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others), just children worthy of acceptance and respect.

Being an ally to all of your children can be challenging at times, but also extremely rewarding. And most importantly, it’s what children deserve.

We would love to hear from you about how you are a ally to your child/ children, we would love to have the voices of parents in all different kinds of circumstances. Please come and find our Facebook Page to share your opinion, or email Lucy on if you would like to submit a post.


  • Talia B. July 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    This is beautifully written and helpful. I will be sharing on my page, as sibling questions are so common. What a refreshing perspective, truly


Leave a Comment