This Is Us. A few episodes back it featured the adult Big Three, in a counseling session together. A lot came out in this episode. Each person had a different viewpoint on how they were raised. One character, in particular, felt that each of his other siblings were favored by a parent growing up. The mother passionately denied it, but admitted that this child was not favored, he was just easier. The complexity of the family unit can be a bit mind-boggling at times. Loving each child equally does not mean loving them in the same way. The way I express my love probably looks different and is viewed differently. Not more or less for either of my children, just different. Make sense? I sometimes wonder what goes on in my children’s minds about how we parent each child. Our youngest is a challenging child for a variety of reasons, and with that challenge comes a different dynamic of how we respond and interact with him. When we were going through the process of having our youngest son officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, our other two children felt left out. There have been times that the other two children have expressed feeling like he gets away with more and they take the brunt of a lot of the consequences of his behavior. All this to say, it has got me thinking and being more intentional with how I parent and mother them in particular. If you are a parent of multiple children, you know how incredibly different they each are! You, like myself, love them all equally, but the way we parent them can look a little different. We may feel more connected with one particular child, while at the same time feeling especially annoyed by another child. How do we guard against coming across as having favorites? How can we find intentional ways to spend time with each child and make them feel equally special and loved?
Find out your children’s love language
While each parent’s heart is filled with the same amount of love, it can be expressed differently. It’s easy to think one child is the favorite because of the way love is expressed. However, the other point to keep in mind is that children may not feel loved at all if their parents aren’t expressing love in the way they need to receive it. It’s so important to find out our children’s love language. This requires paying attention and spending time with each child alone. Sit down with your child and ask them how they feel most loved:
- Affection and personal touch.
- Time spent with them.
- Words of encouragement and affirmation.
Another way is to observe how they give love. Often time the way our children give love is the way the desire to be loved in return.
Spend one on one time with each child
Find a way to spend time with each of your children one on one. Work it out in your schedule and see what might be feasible. Perhaps a Saturday morning brunch, or a Sunday afternoon trip to get hot cocoa? Simple, yet intentional.
Initiate ways to show them love
Learn to be spontaneous. Surprise them with some special cuddle time, a crafting project, or a trip to a local park to go sledding.
Learn to listen and document
At times I’m quick to want to fix my children’s problems. Sometimes it is better just to listen and give a hug, rather than a solution. Maybe start a journal and document things they like, ways they are kind, and some ways they want to be loved. We can so easily forget moments, but taking a quick minute to jot ideas down can prove to be extremely valuable!