Don’t Raise Cain and Abel- Make Every Child Your Favorite

Gen X parents- need to, have to must reduce sibling rivalry? Parents need to be impartial in every way, although this is a very difficult skill to learn with children. It is inevitable that moms and dads will feel differently about offspring who have varying needs, dispositions, and places in the family. But favoritism is one of the loudest alarm bells that leads to jealousy, sibling wounds, and “I Hate You” stores being formed like hurricanes and then coming between siblings for decades. So parents have to practice being fair and impartial every day, even though it is so difficult.

Find a reason to tell each child he or she is special—my first, my boy, my daughter, my youngest—but spread the love equally. Having favorites creates giant “I Hate You” stories. If you praise one child, make a conscious effort to praise all the rest.

In the new family created by Amos and Gayanne, Roger, Gayanne’s former youngest, was no longer the baby of the family as new stepbrother Randy was actually younger than him. Randy was the only child of Amos and his former wife. Although he was the apple of his mother’s eye, he was the second act in this new family as he was living in his stepmother’s house and she had two of her own children, One of these blood children, Roger, lost half his bedroom to Randy, which set up potential bad blood between the new siblings. So both stepbrothers had lost their favored status and were wounded by their demotion.

Dual-role dad and new stepdad Amos began to remedy that after he and Gayanne went to counseling. He started to spend one-on-one time with his son at Randy’s new home, Gayanne’s original home before she married Amos. Randy was doing a science project to build a trebuchet in school. He is studying the medieval period of European history, and a trebuchet is a siege engine that was used in the Middle Ages either to smash masonry walls or to throw projectiles over them. Randy sort of felt he was laying siege to his dad’s new family and demolishing their house.

He and Amos went shopping for all the parts and tools Amos would need for the trebuchet including a new drill and a chop saw Randy would require helping build this. Randy and his dad started to assemble the parts and put together the required science project in Amos and Gayanne’s garage each weekend when his dad had him as part of the divorce settlement. This made Randy feel a little more like he was the favorite in his dad’s world and also gave him a greater feeling of ownership of his alien new home.

In present-day Gayanne and Amos’s family, son Roger feels like his starring role has been taken away through his mother’s remarriage. He is no longer the only son, since his mom now has a stepson, his stepbrother Randy. He is no longer the baby since Randy is a little younger. On top of that he no longer even has a whole room. Grandmother Janet, the baby boomer, comes to the rescue in her old Taurus with the faded bumper stickers on the rear window, one saying “Warning Opinionated Feminist.” This makes Roger want to have her pick him up a block away from school, but he loves his grandma, so he gets in the car when she stops at the curb to get him.

By taking Roger home a few days a week and driving him to her warm, comfortable, and roomy home, Grandma Janet is really contributing to solving these sibling difficulties. Roger becomes the favorite again each time she puts him in her old car, with the magic wand of his grandmother’s one-on-one attention. She makes a baby book for him, which her daughter never had the time to do.

Janet knew that Roger felt his mom was not paying the kind of interested attention she used to smother on her youngest son. So Janet pitched in to show Roger that he was a favorite of hers. She changed her own schedule, which was going to the gym three afternoons and volunteering at the local women’s shelter. She started a major project, a historical dig; with him to show her grandson he had once been the center of the family and a much-photographed and loved little baby. Janet was sort of doing recent genealogy since eleven years had passed since Roger’s birth and she had to make sure each picture in Guyenne’s box was really of Roger and not of Vera. Gayanne did not write on the backs, being overwhelmed by a new baby and toddler at the time.

But Janet’s efforts gave Roger a sense of family history and how he fit in as the very special last born. Her excavations into the family past also bonded her more deeply wit her daughter Gayanne, which she really needed, as did adult daughter Gayanne. Janet’s long-ago divorce had scarred their relationship.

So make every child your favorite and remember that takes that infamous village and involve Dad’s and Grandparents more to achieve this

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About momlovesyoubest

Cathy Cress holds an MSW in Aging from U.C. Berkeley. Her new book Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships , New Horizon Press, was published October 2010. Cress’s book , Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Jones and Bartlett, is the bible of geriatric care management and is out out in a third edition in February 2011 .Her book Care Managers, Working With the Aging Family, Jones and Bartlett,2008 is one of the few major books on the aging family. Ms. Cress is the founder of GCM Consult ,working with small and national who want to add or launch GCM businesses. She is on the faculty at the University of Florida in their on line master’s in geriatric care management -GCM . She has taught geriatric care management at San Francisco State University , UC Berkeley and teaches at Cabrillo College and San Mateo College. She was founder and director of Cresscare, a GCM business, for 25 years.
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