Life often seems quite unfair to responsible children.
Or at least I felt that way growing up. I was a good student, I followed the rules, (most of the time) and I behaved well in school. My brother had a harder time adapting to a new country and school after we moved from the U.S. to Chile, so my mom’s attention seemed to always be focused on him. Now that I am a mom myself, I understand why she needed to do so. But at the time? I wasn’t so understanding.
We might not like to admit it, but children who need more of our help and time sometimes do get the most undivided attention. The sibling that completes homework on his or her own, does well in school, or is usually healthy can be much more independent and self-sufficient. But looks can be deceiving.
The kids who are responsible and seem to always fulfill our expectations? They need us too. They might not require us to go over their spelling words or push them to finish their required reading. We don’t need to look over their shoulder as much, prodding them along, but that doesn’t they don’t need our attention, our questions, and our time. They just need us in different ways.
Showing them we care is important on so many levels. Since we don’t have to spend so much time helping them with homework, we need to make sure we spend time with them having fun. We need to ensure they know how much we value their achievements, that we don’t take them for granted, even if for them meeting (and quite often, surpassing) goals seems to come easier than for their sibling.
When we are stretched thin, it’s easier to assume that our responsible child is fine and thrives on their own. Self-sufficiency is great in many ways but it can also be exacerbated to the extreme. The problem is that unconsciously we are teaching these independent and self-reliant kids to not ask for help. In the future this can lead to other issues and mentalities that are hard to shake.
To this day, I still struggle with asking for help. I am still learning that it is not a sign of weakness; that it is okay to be the one who needs another, in any relationship.
Even if it’s hard at times when I’m going, going, going, I’m making a conscious effort to show both my kids how much I love them and care for them, no matter how differently they might need me. It’s not enough for them to hear me say it. I need to prove it in little ways every day. I need to spend those extra few minutes I would be nagging them to do their homework, talking to them, making them laugh, and having fun. It might seem obvious to some — to not “forget” one child over the other — but we’re not perfect. And sometimes we all need a reminder not to forget the things that are most important to us.More On