When I go into homes I often hear comments like, ‘She is Mommy’s girl and that one is Daddy’s girl’ or ‘He’s the apple of my eye’ and such like. Comments like these stick with children. They realize that they can ‘never’ attain that place in Mommy’s or Daddy’s heart because it is already taken.
Every child is unique and special and should be treated as such.
There should never be an element of doubt that they are equally loved. Because of the complexity of different personalities in one home, It is common for a parent to prefer one child above another, or to just get on better with one more than the other. The child can easily misinterpret this preference as, ‘Mommy loves him more than me.’ And sometimes, sadly, this is the case!
CS Lewis wrote:
When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.
If you injure someone you dislike,
you will find yourself disliking him more.
If you do him a good turn,
you will find yourself disliking him less.
– CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
In almost every family I have helped, there would typically be an introvert followed by an extrovert, or the other way around. The first two children are always opposite in my experience. It is easy to greet the ‘sunshine’ child with an excited ‘Morning!’ when he comes in with a huge smile in between yawning and rubbing his eyes to wake up, while his sibling comes in sullen and serious and is met with a more serene and subdued greeting.
Children tend to pick up those underlying differences but misinterpret them as ‘one child is wrong and the other is right’.
When a second child makes its arrival in the family, Dad generally takes on the task of bonding with the older one so Mom can be involved with the baby. This is great, but the time also needs to come where they swop over. Then eventually they receive equal attention. If the child constantly refuses to allow one parent to help or do anything, then that parent should insist on helping. This will transition smoothly if there is opportunity for bonding time; especially making opportunities for time with that parent alone.
When a child feels like the second best, he will start taking it out on the sibling and the bond that they could have had will be broken.
The picture portrayed should rather be Mom and Dad in a ‘team’ (a force to be reckoned with), and the children should be standing together. Too often I see an alliance formed between one parent and a child against the other parent and the other child.