Parents making differences

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.

2 Feb, 2013

8 thoughts on “Parents making differences

  1. I went to the same schools as my brother did. I was treated no different than him with the exception that my parents tended to be over protective. This caused me in some ways to be shielded from the real world. As a result I was a late bloomer and did things later than other kids.

    As for social life it never really existed till I got to college and maybe a little in high school. Dating was a thing I never really did much. I was never really good at it.

    1. I believe being shielded from the real world Randy made you different from your brother even though you went to the same schools, but will still have had a marked effect on everything you’ve done in your life up to this point, including dating and reaching your milestones.

      As long as we’re aware of how things were and how we want to change things, I really don’t see why we can’t make the necessary changes.

      I’ve changed many things from my own childhood. Nothing is set in stone, that is my belief anyway.

  2. I was very sickly as a child and the youngest, so I was treated very differently than my 3 siblings, which caused a lot of tension between us. In some ways I liked the extra attention, but it also came at a high price as far as my siblings not really liking me at times!

    It only lasted until I was getting old enough to speak up for myself and realized that I had to push my mother away so that I wouldn’t be her emotional Teddy bear. Just a very long story and more than I want to get into on here.

    Now I’m dealing with my own daughter and how she was treated so differently, to the point where in some ways she doesn’t know how to function on her own. It still haunts me that I wasn’t there for her as much as I should have been when she was growing up, but I’m trying to change things now.

    In some ways it was good that she never had any siblings, since I don’t think her mother could have really handled that. It has just been very difficult to deal with, since I felt so guilty about her condition and wondered what I had done wrong. I felt like if this was going to happen, I would rather it would be me than her. I’m sure that I’m probably not the only parent who feels this way.

    My best hope right now is just trying to be there while she’s going through what she is right now. I can’t change the past, only change what I do from here!

    1. Thanks Randy for your honest comments. I can resonate to some degree with your first paragraph because my parents spent time with me trying to sort my physical problems out and I know for sure that my problems with CP did have an affect on my siblings.

      It’s sad for your daughter of course, but now is the time you can make a difference. We tend to make decisions based on our own circumstances and although you feel bad about not supporting your daughter fully when she was younger, you had your own reasons based on what you were dealing with at the time.

      Sometimes it’s important just to let what’s happened in the past go and get on with what we can do now to change and help those close to us.

      I believe you can change what you do from here. Go for it.

  3. I treated my daughters pretty much the same even though one had obvious problems and was treated differently by another member of the family, so my step daughter was very jealous of my daughter.

    I try to treat my son the same even though there is a 20 year age difference in the girls and him and he has a ton of physical and developmental problems.

    I try to treat him as normal as I can.

    1. With so many developmental problems that your son has it won’t always be easy for you to work with the same kind of disciplines you did with your daughters, with your son being such a young age.

      It’s always important not to make too big a difference, but it will also very much depend on what your son understands of course. Manners and respect are universal, so is right and wrong.

      Children should be taught all of these disciplines, but also that your son’s circumstances are completely unique. My own thought is that making allowances doesn’t always help. To treat a child differently makes them feel different, which can transpire to be anything but positive.

      I know you will try to base your decisions on the presenting circumstances and will do your best as far as differences are concerned. I am sure you wouldn’t want to get caught out twice.

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