Any parent will be catapulted into a world of uncertainty as soon as they know they have a child who is born with physical, mental or emotional difficulties.
Over the years, my father spent a lot more time with me, driving me to my annual hospital appointments. Mum took me to my weekly physiotherapy appointments after school, but when I wasn’t going to physiotherapy, or my yearly hospital appointments, I was treated the same as my siblings.
At the time I didn’t know differences were being made, but it’s clear they were. I used to get mandatory sweets before every hospital visit, which my siblings never got. Although my hospital visits felt like the job was getting done, it was something I endured and something my siblings had to put up with.
Creating differences between the treatment of siblings can manifest itself in many ways, and although outsiders may not always see the difference parents make, children are always aware of them. For example, children who are born into families where culture is central to their lives, fall into this category, as it did me.
Where culture is practiced, and differences aren’t made between children, children can be nurtured in the same way, serving as a basis for peaceful co-existence. Culture can provide support, tolerance and understanding. It can also provide trust.
When it comes to a child living with a disability, parents may feel forced to behave differently with that child, particularly if that child deals with physical, or emotional difficulties. They may also choose to make allowances for that child because they feel guilty, or responsible. It is often how disability works.
Children will always have to deal with different things, but being treated differently in childhood will always manifest itself into negative sibling rivalry and adult behaviour.