I recently wrote about the role that a mama plays in helping each of her children sparkle, noting that some children sparkle because they have gifts that just about everyone applauds while other children’s sparkles aren’t as obvious.
People outside of a family often treat the easy sparklers differently from the way they treat those who don’t sparkle as readily. Sparkle differences are just one reason that children experience a difference in how they are treated.
A child can feel left out or even inferior:
- When strangers exude over his new baby sister and ignore him.
- When a relative or friend favors one child in the family over the other children.
- When most people’s attention goes to a sibling with a serious health concern or disability.
- When a sibling experiences an important milestone such as graduation.
- When a sibling wins an award.
It is appropriate to make over a new baby, to express concern about a child’s health issues, to praise a child who receives an award, and to congratulate children’s milestones; but there is no excuse for people slighting children.
The wise mama notices when these things happen and makes a special effort to make each of her children feel valuable.
As a child, I knew a mama who complained and complained about a relative who slighted one of her children; and she did this in front of the slighted child throughout his childhood. While it is important to affirm a child’s feelings and to sympathize with him verbally, I believe that going on and on about it in front of the child can intensify his own pain and make him feel even less worthwhile.
While wise mamas teach their children to rejoice with their siblings, they also look for creative ways to give each child special and undivided mama time, especially when others are paying particular attention to another child.
Paul was talking about church elders when he wrote this, but I believe the principle applies in our families, too.
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God
and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels,
to maintain these principles without bias,
doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.
1 Timothy 5:21