At home or in a class, church, youth group or any other cluster that brings children together to either live or periodically dwell together in any setting requiring adult supervision, it is important not to show selective treatment or partiality. We should always endeavour to treat them equally. If we exhibit some favouritism towards others within the group, it could severely affect those sidelined who would then feel marginalised.
BY PROSPER TINGINI
Any negative preferential treatment witnessed or experienced by a child can bring devastating social consequences on the child’s subsequent future behaviour. Although it’s human to favour one or more of the children within a particular grouping, we should hide such feelings from view. Children learn from adults, whether of good or bad behaviour. If they see us showing some bias, they will grow up thinking it is normal to be biased. When they see nepotism at play, they will also practice it, etc.
Parental favouritism is a slow poison that has adverse effects on children. It is very normal for a parent to have a favourite child, but the golden rule should be: Never show it. Mothers are usually the ones that spend more time with the children, so their favouritism is more pronounced than that of the fathers. This can cause lifelong problems among the siblings. Jostling for a parent’s attention and love can bring rivalry within the children. It is natural that preferential treatment is given to the younger kids, but that alone can make the others feel less special within the home. When they see the younger children always receiving gifts and foodstuffs ahead of them, they don’t always accept that as fairness. When one item of food is left in the house, let the children share it rather than giving it to the youngest. That way they will learn to share. If they can’t share, rather keep the food item aside until you can purchase for all of them. The same thing should apply to clothing. If you have money to buy for one child, it would be best to keep it aside hidden until you can buy for the others. They were once the youngest child, so don’t let them feel they are less loved now because they are now older. Age does not matter, as they all want to be loved equally.
When it comes to the disciplining of the children, you would find that the favoured child easily gets off the hook for any misdeed, yet the others are severely rebuked for slight offences. Those on the receiving end may grow up feeling unworthy of love. It can lead to depression and anxiety. Worse still, those children who are constantly punished can grow up with an anger within them that can lead to hatred against the parent. The general unhappiness that may engulf such a child can lead to a bad or depreciated performance at school. On the other hand, the loved child may be hated by the other children on the grounds of favouritism. This can degenerate into constant fighting among the siblings, even into adulthood.
One very common trend among parents is to show more love for the children whose academic performance is better than the others at school, or who excel in other fields ahead of the rest. We tend to openly give loud praises towards those who perform better, whilst we belittle or denounce those who struggle, whether at school or life in general. Children who are constantly denigrated may feel inadequate such that they may become withdrawn in character. They may also become rebellious in nature in an effort to defend themselves from accusations or disparaging remarks vented towards them. It is imperative that we handle our children’s shortcomings with dignity. Not being at par with the others does not make one a lesser child. Even when our children grow into adulthood and start their own families, there also tends to be some selectiveness by parents towards adult independent children. Those who have fared better in life get more frequently visited than the less fortunate ones. When the grown- up children pay visits to the home of the parents, some always get more send-off gifts than the others, thus showing open preferential treatment. The grandchildren are likewise likely to be treated differently in accordance with the perceived status of the parents.
In general, the Lord our God always speaks of fairness, impartiality and justice in the home. In Deuteronomy 25:13-15, He speaks: “You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and small; you shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and small. A full and just weight you shall have.” Another meaning to this is that your attitude, behaviour, love etc should be the same for everyone; whether those within your own home or from outside. In Deuteronomy 16:19, He also says: “You shall not pervert justice, you shall not show partiality.” This also applies in reference to your own children.
The most unfortunate group of children who bear most of the brunt for injustices in the homes are usually the stepchildren. There are lots of other children born of single parents, mostly mothers, who get no support or very little assistance from the other biological parent. That other parent may be in a new union and blessed with other children, yet they treat their children from previous relationship as if they are second-class children. They would choose to first meet the financial needs of the children within the current marriage/relationship ahead of those from other previous marriages or relationships. Favouritism is normally rampant in such cases.
Discipline in children should fall on the shoulders of parents. There are times when it is necessary to give some form of unselective corporal punishment to our children, although some nations have outlawed it. The Lord our God legalises corporal punishment for children of young age. Proverbs 13:24 reads: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” However, we should throw some caution on the way in which we discipline them. We are warned: “Discipline your son while there is hope, do not set your heart on his destruction” (Proverbs 19:18).
- Prosper Tingini is the Scribe of the Children of God Missionary Assembly — God’s messengers. Contact details: Mobile & WhatsApp – 0771 260 195. Email address: email@example.com