Jun 10, 2012

Can you love your children equally?

Category: Family Issues
Posted By: Alexia

Question: Sometimes my dad has made me feel like he cares more about my sister than he does about me. I never worried about it much because I thought he made my sister feel the same way sometimes. Then, this morning, I was in my room where I can hear things in the living room really well. Everyone thought I was asleep and my dad was talking about going to get my sister breakfast. My dad said (about my sister), "This is my favorite person in the world." Does he really favor her over me? Could I do that to my children? I've heard people talk about how special the first-born is. I don't like thinking my dad favors my sister and I really don't like thinking that I could make my children feel like this someday. What do you think?

Answer: Thank you for your question Alexia and I’m really sorry that you have been struggling with this issue and felt hurt by your father’s words.  I do not know your father or his thoughts on this so I can only advise on the basis of what is ‘normal’ for parents and may well be true for your father.  Most parents just love their children.  There is no doubt that there are differences in the relationships, differences in personality that mean that differences in feeling come about, but this does not necessarily impact the intensity of a parents love and devotion to their children.  Many parents that I see are worried when they get pregnant with a second child that they will not be able to love the new baby as much as their first child.  But almost uniformly the parents describe how they equally love the second child.  I heard one parent describe it as “when I look at ---- I am convinced that I love him more than it is possible to love anything else, but then I turn around and look at ----- and feel exactly the same way”.  I think what I am trying to explain is that your father might well make a similar comment about you at a time when your sister is not there.

My advice would be to speak to your father and let him know how you feel and how you felt when you overheard the conversation.  Without talking to him it will remain as a wound that can’t heal because it remains under the surface.  If you take the courageous step of speak to him then you can begin to open up communication about something that it seems has been around in your mind for some time.  Perhaps if talking to your father feels too much right now then you could start by talking to your Mum about it.

With regard to you making your children feel the same way.  Well, the first step is to have recognized and understood these feelings from the point of view of the child, so you are half way to ensuring that you do not do this.  However, we often fall into unconscious traps that make us behave a way that we really don’t want to.  The way to avoid this is to work through the issue now, with your father, so that by the time you come to parent your own children it will be something that you understand very well and you will be able to keep from becoming part of your own family dynamics.

I hope that helps and I really wish you well with finding a way to talk about how you feel,

Ryan



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