In this week’s parsha we read about Yosef and his brothers. My heart always goes out to Yosef after his beloved mother Rachel died. It is so hard to be without a mother’s love. As a mother, we can only view him with compassion. However, his brothers could not. Sibling rivalry breeds its own form of jealousy. It is tough when one child is favored over another.
It is important to take this lesson to heart. There are many siblings who do get along, but there is usually always some fighting. It is pretty normal. As parents though, we want to avoid adding fuel to the fire. One way to do that is to avoid comparing our children to one another.
It can be hard not to compare our children. We often don’t even need to voice it, we can just think it “Donny is so laid back and Sara is so uptight!”
When we are frustrated we might yell, “You never do your homework! Eli always does his homework on time!” We may even do it to make one child feel better about him or herself: “You are so artistic, Shana can’t draw like that…”
We sometimes might do it in an effort to motivate our children, “Look, Sara is getting her shot at the doctor, and she is younger than you!”
However, we want to avoid any type of comparisons, because it can color our perception of our child and our child’s perception of him or herself. It can also damage the sibling relationship.
It is better if we just avoid thinking about or mentioning their sibling altogether and love our child for who they are:
“Sara is serious and responsible. I can depend on her to do the right thing.”
We can help our children do what they need to do:
“Donny, it is homework time now!”
We can praise:
“I love the colors you used in this picture. The pink and purple makes it look so bright!”
We can encourage:
“Shots can feel scary, even when we know it will be over in a minute! You can hold my hand or squeeze my finger!”
Comparing our kids to one another is tough for them to handle. It is also makes us forget to appreciate that each one of them is their own individual person, a unique gift from G-d.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.