The statement, “Mom always liked you best,” was often repeated years ago by Tommy Smothers in the comedy act he and his brother created. Unfortunately, that statement is not always funny. It may be, or appear to be, true. Several things factor into the challenge parents have to be impartial.
- Sometimes the personality of the child becomes a stumbling block. Ironically, the annoying child is many times the one who shares a personality similar to his or her parent. It is as though the parent witnesses the child living out a weakness all to familiar to the adult.
- When a child naturally enjoys the same thing a parent enjoys, (sports, music, drama, technology) that child can become the favored son or daughter. The bond created by shared interests can seem unfair to the other children.
- One child in the family may require more attention because of a physical or emotional need. That situation can make it difficult for a parent to give the other children an appropriate amount of attention.
The challenge is to see that each child in the family feels special. Here are some ideas that might help.
- Resist all temptation to label your children. When a parent declares one of the children “the smart one,” the others are instantly excluded. By the same token, avoid labeling kids with less than positive labels like “the difficult one” or even “the strong-willed one.” Labeling is a form of comparison and that should be avoided.
- Pay attention and note if you are giving more attention to one child. If you realize you are not giving an adequate amount of attention to one of your children, purpose to do something we encourage in our book, Be The Parent – Catch your child in the act of doing something right and tell him. If one of your children demands more of your time because of health issues, dialog with your other children and help them understand.
- Be intentional about spending time alone with each child. It does not have to be an entire day. Talking WITH and listening TO your child when you tuck her in at night – maybe a simple ten-minute interaction – can reinforce the importance of that child in your life.
How do you help each of your children feel special?