5. Avoiding Favoritism
Sibling rivalry takes many forms. It can be competitive or argumentative — and it can involve allegations of favoritism from parents and other family members. The perception of favoritism in particular can also be very hard to manage. Whether it’s one or all of your children making the claim, addressing it without totally validating it is tricky. How many times have we heard this statement or something similar…
“My sister gets all the attention. She always gets everything she wants!”
This is a common problem that we see among many Muslim households today. And that is the problem of favoritism among children. Parents may show their favoritism for many reasons. Favoritism could be shown to the oldest or the youngest. It could be a preference of a son over a daughter or the preference of a child more beautiful than the other or simply for no apparent reason at all.
It could be in the form of showing more affection to a child, or excessive praise of one to the neglect of others, giving gifts to one child only or giving better, more expensive gifts to one child in preference to others. It can even be favoritism by simply ignoring one child as compared to the others.
Showing preferential treatment to one child over the other siblings nurtures a kind of jealousy and even hatred in the heart of the one being neglected. And as the experts tell us, this hatred and enmity turns into a rivalry that could last for generations.
Sometimes, favoritism may not actually exist in your household, but the allegation of it can send even the strongest household dynamic spinning. That is why if a claim of favoritism comes up, we need to do something about it. Here’s what we can do…
Listen – When your child complains or you see fights between siblings in which they mention one getting more than another, try not to discount it. Be receptive to the child’s feelings and think about why they might be feeling this way.
Provide an explanation – Sometimes, children do need to be treated differently, like when one child is sick, hurt or has special needs. When this happens, explain it to avoid any misunderstanding.