- March 29, 2012
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I’m guessing that anyone with siblings will be able to relate to this topic. When I was growing up I was taught that parents should never have a favorite child or treat their children differently based on preference (even if, in their hearts, they had one). And when I was younger it seemed like an easy edict by which to live. But as a parent, looking around, I wonder if many parents missed that memo. If you ask parents about disparaging treatment that occurs they’re likely to deny it or give you some explanation as to why their actions are absolutely necessary for their specific situation. Many reading this might think, “I would never do that!” But think again! It could be happening without you being conscious of it.
Needy demanding children do not learn to become more self-sufficient, and often become dependent and entitled as adults
I watch parents who repeatedly and perhaps unknowingly (I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt) reward incompetence. What that means is that they either give more attention or provide tangible goods (such as money, clothes, food items, etc.) to their “less fortunate” or problematic children more than the others. It reminds me of the old saying, “the squeaky wheel always gets the grease.” In case it isn’t glaringly obvious, I believe that this is wrong on many levels and creates resentment not only toward parents but between siblings. While it might seem practical and may be done out of perceived necessity, it is a form of favoritism, which hurts others. Whether it’s verbalized or not other family members, regardless of how well they appear to be doing, are noticing and being affected.
The reason this is so problematic is because it is a poorly thought out (or not thought out) temporary fix. In the long run it adversely affects everyone involved. Needy demanding children do not learn to become more self-sufficient, and often become dependent and entitled as adults. Who will still be demanding and needy, so are likely to still receive the lion’s share of time, attention, and money from susceptible parents. While hardworking responsible children become resentful and have to build defenses to deal with and understand the discrepancy.
If anything, rewarding children who are doing well sends a message to everyone in the family
It’s true that as a parent you do worry about some of your children more than others. But our challenge as parents is to not allow that to sway us from treating each of our children fairly. If anything, rewarding children who are doing well sends a message to everyone in the family. I assure you that those who are successful will find a positive use for the extra time or tangible items you give them. Unfortunately, we often see the opposite happen- the responsible children are neglected because the parent is trying to “save” one of the other children. Regardless of its disguise– whether your children are still young and at home or grown up with children of their own; whether it’s in the form of free rent, free groceries, free clothing or extra childcare– it’s wrong! Remember equality and not being biased aren’t just topics to think about when you’re in public. Equality and fairness, like most things, should begin at home.
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