We have just recently started reading from Sefer Bereishit. One of the themes of this sefer is about siblings and their rivalries. From Kayin and Hevel, to Yitzchok and Yishmael, to Esav and Yakov and finally, to Yosef and his brothers—we all know that sibling rivalry breeds its own form of jealousy. It is incredibly difficult for children when one child is favored over another.
It is important to take these lessons to heart. There are many siblings who do get along, but there is also usually some fighting. It is pretty normal. As parents, though, we want to avoid adding fuel to the fire. One way to do this is to stop 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 may 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 might sometimes 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 stay away from 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 his or her 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 make 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.