Favorite kids in parenting happens more frequently than many of us care to admit. An honest parent admits when he likes one child’s personality or disposition better than another child’s. Sometimes our “like” is governed by our own interests that coincide with a particular child. Sometimes we dislike a child because he reminds us of someone else in the family line. We might never come out and say it. Sometimes we don’t even want to think it of ourselves, because we know that’s not good parenting.
Sometimes a parent is disappointed in the brawn or brains of a kid. Dreams of a child who excels in certain areas are shattered. How unfair this is to a child, who chose neither his brains nor his brawn! A parent enjoys music or math or sports or literature and discovers his progeny has no interest in any of these. We forget that kids dream of parents who encourage their interests, instead of pushing them in another direction.
If a dad enjoys sports and one of his kids does not, his natural tendency will be to take the sports-lover with him to sporting events and leave the one behind who could care less. He would do well – on occasion at least – to take the non-sport-lover to an event of this child’s choosing, whether he enjoys the outing or not. If a mom enjoys reading and cozy times, she is more inclined to spend time with the child who wants to cuddle and be read to than the one who is outside climbing trees. She would do well on occasion to join her active child in his “world” of active adventure.
It doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids. It does mean we need to make a point of not being like Isaac and Rebekah. We know the downfall of relationships in their family because of favoritism. Isaac and Rebekah clearly exhibited favorites in parenting. Scripture tells us that Isaac liked Esau because his eldest son shared his joy of hunting. Rebekah favored Jacob who was a home-body and liked to garden instead of hunt. There was not a thing wrong with Rebekah preferring being home over hunting; nor was it wrong for Isaac to enjoy hunting with Esau. The problem was that each parent favored the child most like him and failed to learn to know the one who was the least like him. Genesis tell us this was so.
When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
How not to have “favorites” in parenting
- Recognize the fact that you favor one child over another and that favorites in parenting is wrong. Figure out why you prefer this child over another so you can find your way out of this maze. If you don’t know why you like one kid better than another, you can’t fix the problem. If you can’t figure it out, I’m sure an adult who has been watching your parenting can help you.
- Change your attitude – and your heart. Begin by admitting your tendency and that it is wrong. Don’t make excuses, because there are none acceptable.. If the issue is your own past experiences with someone like your child, then deal with those emotions and attitude. It is not the fault of your child if he/she is like someone you don’t like very much. It’s your fault for having that attitude.
- Be accountable to someone. If not your spouse, then a trusted friend. Allow them to ask you what steps you are taking and if you’re making progress in nixing this practice of having “favorites” in your parenting. It is guaranteed that being held accountable will help you grow.
- Learn to know and understand your child. Do the “unnatural” thing necessary to connect with your child. Once you connect with his world, he’ll make more sense to you. Ask for the help of an adult who understands your child better than you. They may well be able to translate your child’s passions so you can understand his language.
- Get wisdom from the Source. Too often, we go to everyone else before going to God. When we are sincere and ask with a heart willing to learn, God will come through. He promises to give wisdom if we are lacking and if we ask. All you have to do is ask. Our Father is a creative Parent, and He gives wisdom that will keep you from having favorites in parenting.
- Don’t give up. This effort takes time. You won’t figure it out in a week or two. It will take months – and sometimes years – to forge a relationship or a friendship. Get started today. Begin by asking God to show you, then follow the path to which He directs. It will be worth it – I promise.
Photo credits: pixabay.com.
Family sillouette by openclipart-vectors/pixabay.
Father and daughter by daniela dimitrova/pixabay.