Are You Playing Favorites?

How to keep your other child from feeling like he's "second best."

You're not fair! You're playing favorites! You love my brother more than me!"

Is there a parent alive who hasn't heard one of these statements?

Let's face it: It's impossible to always treat our children fairly. As parents, we all make mistakes—and it's normal to suffer from guilt and worry that we've damaged our children. We may even wonder if they'll ever get along with each other or appreciate us when they're grown up!

As you wade through the accusations of "playing favorites," here are some insights to help you.

Parents Aren't Perfect
It's tough being a parent. And there are no perfect parents, only sinful parents trying to do the best they can with God's help. It doesn't hurt to remind your children of this fact sometimes by saying something such as this: "Honey, I know you think I'm treating you unfairly. You may feel like I favor your sister/brother. But you need to know I love each of you. I may be making a mistake with this decision—but I have to do what I think is best. One day when you have children, you can choose to do things differently."

Take Time for the "Problem" Child
Sometimes you may feel that you don't "like" one of your children. Don't panic—it's normal. Perhaps your child's going through a difficult stage, or she's so strong-willed that she tests you at every turn. Maybe your child's so different from you that you can't relate easily to him—or she's so similar, you constantly butt heads.

Often what's needed is time together with your child (without an agenda) to become reacquainted. Determine to spend extra time simply "hanging out"--doing something he or she likes. It helps ease the tension and demonstrates your love and commitment to your child. Remember, when your child accuses you of loving his sibling more than you love him, he's often really asking for some reassurance of your love.

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May 25

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