I Love Both Of You Equally (I Think)

Admit it, you understand one child better than the other. And this is normal, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

You have two children, each with a unique personality, talents and abilities. It’s terrific, except you realise you “get” your younger kid easily, while the older one is a complete mystery. 

You know you love each as much as the other, but you are also aware that you understand one better than her sister.

What’s worse, the one who is more distant might complain that you never understand or listen to her – because you love her sibling more.

To help improve your relationship with this child, ask yourself these questions:

How hard am I trying to connect with her?

You are only human. Instinctively you will spend more time with the child you are most comfortable with.

After all, it is tiring to deal with a kid who is grumpy, constantly and unpredictably changes her mind, and uncooperative for reasons you don’t understand. But the more you back away from her, the less likely you understand her.

Remind yourself to spend time with her, instead of taking the easy way out by avoiding her. Keep trying to communicate with her even if you feel your relationship is strained at times. Don’t give up.

Is it possible that my child doesn’t understand me, rather than the other way round?

We are affected by our own upbringing. We also have our own personalities, traits and characteristics. Therefore, it is also possible that your child does not “get” you, which could be part of the problem.

Maybe you see traits in her that remind you of yourself, or it could be that you aren’t as open and communicative as you thought.

Put yourself in your child’s shoes and look at the situation from her perspective. Understand yourself a bit more in order to help her understand you better.

What can I do differently to improve the situation?

Communication between parent and child is a two-way process. Consider how you react to her, behave towards her and speak to her.

Don’t focus on your lack of understanding and blame yourself for it; try to make small changes in your behaviour when interacting with her.

For example, perhaps you tense up when talking to her because you anticipate her sullen reaction, so learn to feel more relaxed.

How much do I accept my kid for who she is?

So what if she is hard to understand? And so what if you don’t actually “get” everything she does? Your child needs to feel valued, loved and supported by you unconditionally.

Tell her you love her, even when you disagree with her or feel there is a misunderstanding between the both of you. 

What matters is that she feels accepted by you – with her own blend of strengths and weaknesses – and that you value her even though you don’t always understand her. 

If you tense up when talking to her because you anticipate her sullen reaction, learn to feel more relaxed.