Sometimes It's good to be prepared for tricky questions.
Once we went for lunch with one of my sons. We were eating and chatting about school, his friends and superheroes, and then he suddenly went silent, thoughtfully chewed half a hamburger and asked “Mom, who do you love more, me or one of my brothers?”
A classic question, I know, but I was hearing it for the first time.
I paused for a second, and one of the rules of child psychology emerged in my head - never say "I love you all the same."
Although it once seemed to me that this was the most logical and correct answer. "You are all equally important for me and for Dad, dear children, you are all an integral part of our life and we do not single out anyone separately and do not have favourites" is a seemingly very competent answer that puts everyone on an equal footing.
However, children are self-centered, and the question of fairness and equality in relation to their brothers and sisters, when they ask the question of parental love, worries them the least.
When a child asks: "Who do you love more, Mom, me or my brothers and sisters?" he wants to hear only about himself, about his uniqueness and the feelings that you have for him.
And according to the respected parenting authors Adele Faber and Ellen Mazlish, equality in relation to children diminishes their importance and even humiliates them.
To provide an example, there is a short story in their book “Brothers and Sisters: Helping Your Children Live Together.”
"The young wife turns to her husband and unexpectedly asks:
- “Who do you love more, me or your mother?”
- “I love you equally” - the husband answers and runs into serious trouble.
He should have said, "Mother is my mother. And you are an amazing, beautiful woman with whom I would like to live for the rest of my life."
So with children, when we talk to them about our lack of favouritisim and same feelings for them, we equalize children and deprive them of their individuality. And everyone wants to be special and different from the rest.
And it is not only about parental love, but also about the number of pancakes on a plate, and about the quality time spent individually with each child, and even about which side of Mom he sits on the couch.
The main thing for a child is satisfaction of his emotional need, and not comparison with siblings.
Faber and Mazlish also recommend the following phrases instead of the standard ones.
1. "Instead of dividing everything equally (" You have as many grapes as your sister ") ...
Give each one according to need: "Should I give you five grapes or do you want ten?"
2. Instead of showing the same love ("I love you as much as I love your sister") ...
Show your child that you love them in a special way: "You are the only one in the whole world, no one can take your place."
3. Instead of giving the children an equal amount of time ("I'll spend ten minutes with your sister, then ten minutes with you") ...
Provide time according to needs: "I know that I have been helping your sister for a long time. This essay is very important to her. As soon as we finish, I would love to know what is important to you."
And even if you have a favourite child, then the best way to deal with it is to get rid of the guilt and emphasise the strengths and uniqueness of each of the children, making everyone feel loved and significant.
And that day, at lunch, I leaned over to my son and calmly said with a smile:
- I have only one you, only one such wonderful boy, with whom I am very happy to have lunch today. I love you very, very much, and I really like it when we spend time together.
He smiled, took another bite of his hamburger and told me about his new friend at school.