Who is your favorite child

Sleepless

I help Maya (13) at the kitchen table with her English homework. Lara (16) is getting something to eat. She opens the cutlery drawer and suddenly screeches so deafeningly that I flinch. "My God," I say annoyed. Lara theatrically lifts her left index finger up. “I grabbed the sharp knife,” she complains loudly. I screw up my eyes to examine the finger from a distance. No blood. Not even a single drop. "Let cold water run over it and work here." With that I turn back to the English book. Lara is grumpy: “That is so typical! It's always about your favorite child and you let me bleed to death here freezing cold! "

I smile to myself and don't give up on Lara's accusation. Your emotional outbursts are basically a bit too much. She tends to get emotionally involved in situations. A sad book or movie can ruin your whole day. Then she fights back tears non-stop and repeats on a tour: “That can't be. How sad is that? I'm exhausted. ”On the one hand, that's sweet, but in some situations it can be really annoying.

If Maya and Lara used to go to a joint vaccination appointment, Maya, when she was three and a half years younger, did not even flinch when the needle was inserted, while Lara started howling and did not stop so quickly. At some point, understanding consolation no longer helped, just a resolute announcement: "So, now it's finally good!" When Maya was upset as a toddler (rarely and only out of anger, but then so violently that she screamed away and turned blue), she had to be coaxed gently and calmly to calm her down.

My thirteen-year-old is very tough and sparingly expresses her feelings. Lately she fell down the cellar stairs and slammed on the back so badly that she couldn't breathe for a moment. But she got up immediately and tried to downplay the fall, pale and trembling: "Nothing happens", she whispered bravely, before her circulation sagged and I could just catch her. I've encouraged her to show weakness over and over again in the past, but that's what she is. Just like Lara is what she is.

Every child has its own character and individual needs, to which we parents react and act individually. We treat people differently because people are different. I'd rather go shopping with Maya than Lara. Maya is not only a real help to me in the supermarket. When I'm sick in bed, she looks after me like a little mother and keeps the house tidy. When shopping, Lara only throws her favorite foods into the car in an uncontrolled manner and with her chaotic manner always spreads a little more unrest than necessary. We clash all the time because of their disorder. But is that why I love Lara less? Absolutely no way! The relationship with my big one is now and then conflict-laden, but no less intense and intimate than with my youngest. Maya is the non-iron cotton shirt, Lara the easy-care wool sweater.

Maya feels left out in situations where Lara and I form a unit. When Lara and I communicate without words, because we know what the other is thinking. When we watch old Doris Day or Miss Marple films together or discuss books and topics that Maya cannot do anything with. When we remember our mother-daughter short trips for two. “Stupid, you've always done a lot more with Lara,” Maya then says. This is a fact and an age- and interest-related by-product. Not counting the countless hours in my life that I have spent in front of math books and YouTube videos to support Lara in maths.

Nobody likes to hear from their child that they feel disadvantaged, that they allegedly make differences between their siblings or that they have a “favorite child”. As a result, you choose Easter and Christmas gifts in such a way that no child gets the feeling that they got off worse. You try to be there and approachable for everyone. They assert that they love all children equally. For small children you can plan fixed times for common rituals, for example a fixed reading or cuddling time. Older children are happy when a whole day is all about them and they receive the undivided attention of a parent, for example during a mother-son shopping day or a cool dad-daughter bike ride.

Nevertheless, with all our efforts, we will never succeed in dividing our time and emotional resources one hundred percent equally among the children. Because it is human that we want to be there for the child who needs us most - be it for that moment, a day or during a critical phase - and the siblings inevitably take a back seat. Because we cannot and must not be torn apart.

Who can understand this better than families who raise a special child with a physical or mental disability and at the same time a healthy child together ?! Who can understand this better than a mother who has just given birth to her second child and now, without actually wanting or planning it in advance, demands more independence from the firstborn ?! Because the newborn is still so small and helpless without us. At the same time, the older child suddenly appears so big.

The baby bonus in particular often runs through family life for many years. Also through ours. I was definitely more lenient with Maya in the first few years. And back then, my big, little three and a half year old after Maya's birth also seemed huge compared to my little sister. Later Maya was shy and reserved and was very attached to the tip of my skirt. Lara, on the other hand, was a lively, extroverted and adventurous girl. She liked to go her own way. I've always spread my wings a little wider over Maya than over Lara. Because Lara preferred her own wings early on.

I would like to spontaneously hug and hug my older daughter more often, as I used to be and as I am (still) allowed to do with Maya. But sixteen-year-olds don't like unsolicited expressions of love and too much parental closeness. I respect that. So I'm all the more astonished when Lara utters her favorite daughter's saying just because Maya and I'm lying cuddled up on the sofa.

Sometimes such statements hurt me. It doesn't matter whether they come from Lara or Maya. Then I think of the many sleepless nights I've had in my life because of both girls; of the countless hours that I crouched by their beds and read to them until my voice failed me; of the many intimate moments and beautiful experiences that we have been able to experience together so far; to all the love and affection that I feel for both girls and that I pass on to them; of their worries, which are also automatically my worries. Then I forbid myself from brooding or guilty. My children mean everything to me. And I love none more than the other.

No, I don't have a favorite child! Perhaps it may look like this in phases or at certain moments when I am terribly in the wool with Lara and then play games with Maya for hours on end. Maybe it may seem like this to Maya when I don't have time for her because I talk to Lara intensively, we are in our world and she feels left out. I am there for those who need me. And right at this moment Maya needs me, who is desperate with her grammar problems.

Tags: parenting, family, family life, siblings, children, motherhood, teenagers, fatherhood
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"Always your favorite child!"

From Sonia Heldt

Can you share love and affection perfectly equitably between your children? Doesn't every mother and father secretly have a favorite child who is preferred?

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