Saturday, April 3, 2010

Do you have a favourite?


Last Thursday, we were at a beach party. The weather was bad, too windy to have an outdoor festivity but a few of us did brave the winds to try and enjoy ourselves...
There was good music playing but no one seemed to be listening, two grownups were trying to get more people to the dance floor. And then I heard this vaguely familiar voice, screaming into the microphone, “Come on all of you, come and dance with us...”
I looked around to find my younger one, standing confidently, close to the music system with the microphone in her hands and taking on the self-imposed role of the announcer for the evening.
She wasn’t dancing much but she did get more people to join in and then encouraged them with loud, “Come on move your body” and the louder, “Yes, yes, that’s the way” and some even embarrassing outbursts of, “See all of you, look at my father dancing...he is doing a good job”!
She even pounced on her elder sister, who was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, embarrassed with her sister’s new flamboyant role.
“There is my sister, in orange T-shirt and blue earring. We always fight at home but she really dances well, K chechi come and join the dancing.”
K made a fast exit...
N also tried encouraging me to join in her new ‘role’.
She told me, “Amma, say something, no problem, you can talk what you do at office and home too.”
I was proud of course, but this set me thinking...why is my younger one confident and sure of herself while the elder, who is much more talented of the two, so shy.
Are we the reason, have I been too strict on her and a bit lenient on the younger?
Were our expectations from the elder one, much higher than for the younger? I know it was...
But it was also because we knew her potential, but did it have its negative effect?
I have read that it is perfectly natural to have favourites in the family. A psychiatrist is quoted in Gulf Times, saying, “It is perfectly normal for parents to favour one child or another at one time or another. It’s what they do with that favouritism that can create problems.”
We did not have favourites; we knew both their flaws and strengths and knew how different both were.
I know we devoted more time and attention to the elder for six years and later when the second one came into our life, the attention was divided...and it was done with conscious effort to make the elder one fit in.
Yes, there have been instances when I was strict on the elder since the younger one is so tuned to what the elder does. But have I played favourites?
There is this theory by another psychiatrist that answers most of my doubts, that says, “But even when parents vow to treat their children equally, they soon find that this is just not possible. Every child is different and parents must respond to their unique characteristics appropriately. You shouldn't react to a 3-year-old's tantrums in the same way as you would to a 13-year-old's. You can't deal with aggressive children in the same way as passive children. Even identical twins can't be treated identically. When it comes down to it, every child wants to feel like they're different, not clones of their siblings. The best parents can do is stay aware of any differential treatment they give and try to be as fair as possible.”
Do you go through these moments of soul searching? Do you have a favourite in the family? Or have you ever felt that your brother always got the best deals in the family?

17 comments:

Shammy said...

It is not actually favouritism Sindhu, rather how we grow as parents. Always with the first one we are more strict, as we want to do everything perfect. Be the perfect parent with the perfectly brought up kid.So we are more hard on them.

With the second and third ( in my case) you tend to be more lenient,as we realise that it does not matter. Even with their flaws, they are perfect to us.
Each one will have their own strengths and style too. We, being human beings, may find resonance with one child more than the other but i do not think that it is favouritism, at least not when they are young. You still have the same feelings for all.

Favouritism can happen, when they grow up and become adults with their own particular character and we find that it is not what we expected....Again, that too could be partly our fault...

ummon said...

well the previous comment says it all! agree 100%.

sindhu said...

Shammy: Yes, you are so right...
It is all a learning process for us parents too and I too agree there can never be favourites, there can be instances when we appreciate one over other but never a child over the other...

Lolita said...

I agree with comment number one... we all want our first kid to be that perfect kid, just so that we can prove that we are the perfect parents.. But by the time we get to number two, we no longer have the time, energy or even the inclination to sweat the small stuff...

Usha Pisharody said...

Back here, after an age, Sindhu! Liked this post so much, for you have gently triggered a bit of soul searching! :)

I think we too sometimes think we play favourites, and that is because each child's needs differ! Sometimes there is guilt when the elder gets a scolding, while the younger goes off scot free! But as the psychiatrist has said, if one is aware of it, there will be more rationalised handling of the situations!

Really liked this one!

vimmuuu said...

Oh yeah, there is. I still feel my elder bro is my parents fav. Thats because he is this really good responsible person and im exactly the opposite. But I actually dont have a problem with that; they havnt expected much from me since childhood and that has always worked in my favor, if you know what I mean :D :D :D :D

indianhomemaker said...

Sindhu I think many parents do have favorites but so long as they don't show it, and I guess so long as one of the children is not complaining there should be nothing to worry about.

Being shy may not mean unconfident, I was painfully shy at home but participated in every thing, including being on stage in school - I think the feeling that parents are watching, worrying, and there are expectations... can make a child shy, but one does outgrow it. Most first-borns I know, including my own kids, nieces, nephews, cousins seem to be more 'reserved' as kids. I feel they also end up being more responsible.

sindhu said...

Usha..ur back. And thanks for reading and yes, we have to be aware and act acordingly.
Vimmuu...ur too much, u younger ones are all the same, kamchors...and happy about it too1
Indyeah: Yes, your reply stuck a note, yes, my elder one participates in everything..and we know thst she is capable of much more and the younger one, we keep as our 'fun' child...we dont expect much from her at all.

Deeps said...

I need to ask my parents who their favorite is..my brother and I have always played this guessing game and we've never really managed to get an answer out of them!

I could actually visualize N donning the role of a DJ :)). Give her tight hugs frm me :)

Reflections said...

Wow both ur daughters sound wonderful....I still havent forgotten the paintings u posted of ur elder daughter. I remember showing to my kids who were awestruck:-)

Like everybody I agree with Shammy coz she has mentioned most of wht I wanted to say.
As for favouritism my parents were not the affection showing types but I always thot I got the best of everything[of whtever there was] & my sister got all my hand-me-downs the poor girl. But she really took it well tho once in a while she cribs good-naturedly abt those days;-D

Smita said...

I don't think it is a case of favouritism!!! Each kid is a different and trust me it is a matter of time your elder one will also come out of her shyness if that really is her nature!!!

Parents have to nurture their kids!! So chill am sure u have done ur best & even ur girls think the same way :)

Chandrika Shubham said...

Awesome pic! :)

The article was an interesting read. I enjoyed reading it. In general it happens in a family that one sibbling is favoured more than the other.

Swaram said...

An award for u on my blog :)

Elizabeth said...

I actually think it probably doesn't have to do with favoritism. Whenever I babysit for two kids, it seems like one is always shy, and one is outgoing! I think it is very common for this to be the case in families no matter what the parenting style :)

Haddock said...

I think differential treatment should be avoided as far as possible.

ummon said...

check this: http://nilufamily.blogspot.com/2010/05/first-born.html
she has a different take.

Nilu said...

Ummon,

Thanks for introducing me to this blog....I am going to follow it!

Every word in this post is so true!