Obviously nobody actively has a favourite child (I mean, I hope not at least). But we have all heard from those who felt there was an imbalance between them and their sibling/s and jealousy is something a lot of parents witness in their own children, even when they feel they are treating everyone fairly. So what’s going on?
When we aim for equalised care, people aren’t necessarily getting what they want or need. People have different needs and preferences so it follows on that they won’t be best served by standardising what they receive around a group (in this care of siblings).
One of my children owns one pair of shoes that she wears everywhere and most likely will until they fall apart and become unusable. One child owns many different styles of shoes that she adores but actually prefers to be barefoot most of the time. Gifting them both a pair of shoes? That is going to mean very different things to each of them despite both technically receiving one pair of shoes. Giving them the same things (physically or emotionally) just doesn’t make sense, they aren’t the same person!
Jealousy is most often a projection based on something that is lacking within the parent and child relationship. When people have a deficit, it can be very easy to think what somebody else is receiving is preventing them from getting so. Now I don’t think this is exactly a healthy or honest conclusion BUT children are generally biased towards their parents and it can make assessing discrepancy within their relationship extremely improbable, it can often feel safer frame it as a conflict with a sibling AND when we are reinforcing a reality of equality by focusing on ensuring each child receives the same, that is where a child is going to focus too; how their care measures up against the care of their siblings, not how it measures up against their needs.
So even the child who you might feel is getting “more” (and I think it best to move away from these thoughts entirely) can end up feeling jealous; our mind gives the most weight to the things that are important to us and to the gaps within that. If a child is not getting what they need, the “more” is irrelevant. And when we try to justify our choices by comparing the care they’re receiving to that of their sibling/s…. we are only continuing that cycle of jealousy.
Shifting this involves looking within our personal relationships for what is missing and how best resolve that; personalising our care so that the actual specific needs of the individual are being met. When this is occurring, what other’s are receiving ceases to apply; the focus becomes how satisfied we are with the meeting of our own needs. When you are interacting with a person and investing in your relationship, there is absolutely no need to consider how you were with any other person to guide your choices. The information you need is within your relationship, not within your relationship with anybody else. And the more you live that reality? The more your children will find truth within it also!