Do you love your children the same way?
Parents cannot claim to love their children exactly the same way because each child displays unique characteristics and behavior that make a parent respond differently.
This means there is no one-size-fits-all formula that a parent can adhere to in raising kids.
To insist on doing so can mean either of two things, said Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Honey” Carandang, national social scientist and president-founder of Mindfulness, Love and Compassion (MLAC) Institute for Psychosocial Services, Inc. (The Philippine Social Science Council named Carandang a National Social Scientist for Psychology in 1995.)
Carandang and MLAC will host Parenting Academy’s forum on “The Power of Compassionate Discipline” on March 4, at St. Luke’s Medical Center, Bonifacio Global City.
“Do you love your children the same way? Do you treat them the same way? The answer is ‘no.’ If you insist, either you are lying because you are not paying attention, or you do not recognize their unique characteristics,” Carandang said.
She added it is important for a parent to be open enough to admit this “because it makes you aware that you are human and you are affected by their behavior.”
Recognizing uniqueness, however, is not an endorsement of favoritism, the clinical psychologist noted. For example, a child who is sickly needs more time and attention than a healthier and more independent sibling.
While it is understandable for a parent to spend more time caring for the sickly child, the other sibling would still need quality time and nurturing from the parent.
In another case, “It’s a fact that you cannot like them the same way. A parent responds to their uniqueness so you don’t treat them exactly the same way,” Carandang explained.
Uniqueness among children is a universal experience and there is nothing the parent can do to change this, she said. Hence, the distribution of attention, time and care would be different for each child, the psychologist pointed out.
“But that guilt is a good thing because it makes you realize that you also have to give attention to the (healthier one),” she said. “Be aware, however, that while it is okay to spend more time with the sickly one, you do not neglect the needs of the other who doesn’t need as much.”
Carandang raised another situation in which children display different skills and would elicit varied reactions from the parents.
“One may be good in music and another in sports. The parent must affirm their personal skills and let both feel that their skills are valued,” she said.
Trouble happens when the parent is perceived to appreciate the skill of only one child—most likely because it is the skill the parent feels would gain greater social approval or would bring material comfort in later life.
“Most of the time, the high grades a child brings home are emphasized. Academic medals are used as sole measure. The child who brings this home is the only one praised in front of others,” Carandang pointed out.
While academic performance will always be a source of pride, the psychologist said the parent can look into the outstanding characteristics displayed by other children.
“It is also important for children to be compassionate and honest, instead of just bringing home high grades. Many parents make the mistake telling others in front of the children that ‘Itong isa magaling sa math, itong pangalawa sa swimming lang.’ You affirm the competence of every child, don’t make them believe that one’s competence is better than another’s. You don’t want all your children to be good in only one thing,” she advised.
The Parenting Academy’s “The Power of Compassionate Discipline” is on March 4,
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Henry Sy Auditorium, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Taguig City.