This is part 5 of the Series: Being a Better Parent. Read Part 1,2,3,4.
When I was a child, my siblings will tell you that I was the favored child. I was head strong, independent and would usually choose to do what was right as far as my parents and grandparents could tell. I was the goody two shoes and was really quick to encourage my siblings on ways they could get into trouble. I loved coloring with my younger sister and I have always thought I could color better. We would both go to my mom and ask which one looks better. Mom in her great wisdom, and my irritation, would say they both look great. My brother came a long 8 years after us and needless to say after having two girls my brother was nothing like us. He was loud, needed constant entertainment and stimulation. He took apart things and would often forget how they went back together. He was a hands on kid where as my sister and I did things pretty independently.
The ability to juggle the needs, behaviors and wants of a child take time and often times more energy than a parent has. I found this to be true with my kids. When tempers are short and when we are at our worst seems to be when we find one or more of the kids into trouble, such as throwing 6 dozen worth of eggs all over the kitchen floor. At those times harsh and unkind words can slip out of our mouths such as, "Why can't you be like your sibling.".
Angry words, favoritism, comparisons and bitterness are ways that show our children that our love for them is conditional.
The bible has a few stories like this, the story of Cain and Able and Joseph and his brothers are both found in Genesis. Not only did they mess up the relationship between the parent and the child but the relationship between the siblings.
One of the most helpful books I have found, to help me with the words to say is: Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too. Not only is it easy to read but it comes with a comic script for each lesson to make it easy to share the wisdom with your spouse. I usually buy this as a gift when my friends have the second baby.
Because God loves us unconditionally we need to learn to love our children as he does. Our love for them needs to not be based on their behavior or how they love us.
How does God love us?
1 John 3:1: See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
Romans 5:5: And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.