Parental love is an infinite, renewable resource. It may not feel that way, however, when your personality is more compatible with one child’s than another’s. Even if this is the case, you can still have very positive relationships with all of your children. You may simply have to go about it differently.
It’s wise to acknowledge to yourself (although not to your children) that it’s easier for you to bond more with one child than another. Being personally honest is the first step in turning any discrepancy into a positive situation.
Remember that each child is a unique and creative individual, with her own strengths, weaknesses, and distinctions. If one of your children thinks very differently than you do, don’t pass judgment—appreciate the fact that she has a different perspective and a different outlook on life than you do.
Avoid comparing your children to one another. Saying things like “When your brother was your age…” or “If you were like your sister…” can be judgmental and have a negative effect on your children’s relations with each other.
Similarly, don’t label your kids—calling one of them “the defiant one” puts a negative spin on a determined, independent nature, and can begin to form an expectation that your child feels compelled to meet.
Tell your children what’s special about them and that your love for them will never end. Some parents think that kids just know these things, but they won’t unless you tell them.
Make sure to spend one-on-one time with each of your kids so they know you appreciate and love them on an individual basis in addition to being a part of the family. Maintain this practice throughout childhood, if possible.
Teens mature and develop rapidly, and may experience drastic changes in their personalities. Remember that growing up is an individual process, and that it’s an important time for you to establish specific and unique bonds with each of your children.
Parents have different relationships with their different children—and that’s okay. Instead of worrying or feeling guilty about the differences in your feelings for your children, simply think about how each relationship is unique and how much you love all of your children, no matter how your personalities relate.
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Strengths to Make It Through: How Families Can Grow Together Through Everyday Challenges . . . and Big Stuff, presented by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Ph.D., Vice President, Research and Development at Search Institute
Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 12PM - 1PM, CST