Thursday, 24 November 2011 07:24

NAMIBIA: Favouring a Child Can Be Poisonous


Children depend on parents to provide a stable environment. However, when parents start favouring one child over another, the less fovoured get less perplexed and will ask where they went wrong.

Usually child favouritism starts out innocently but can eventually become like a poison that seeps into all the walls of the family structure. A good number of parents will not admit that they "favour one child over another," but most of them do. Most make some kids feel more important that others based on their temperament.

When a child has more characteristics that are acceptable by a parent they are likely to be pampered and treated well unlike a child with features or characteristics that reminds them of their insecurities. For example, an active go-getter child is more favoured and the placid quiet child gets ignored or vice versa.

The most surprising thing about this is that, "favouring" has nothing to do with love. It is quite simply the raw truth that there will always be people in this world, whether related or otherwise, that we connect with more easily. Sometimes, these people we connect better with or against are own very own children. The problem occurs when parents who seem to connect with one child over the other, begin deliberately showing sides, this ends up hurting the child whose relationship may not come so easily.

Marjorie Siseho, at Katima Mulilo's Ngweze location says favouring children also hurts the same children that are favoured. She says the favoured child in turn feels a tremendous amount of guilt and becomes unable to forge a strong relationship with his or her siblings. "I was and I'm still my father's favourite kid, though it might seem cool to other kids. I suffered a lot because of this. Whenever, I won some competition or arguments, my sisters and brothers would say, "Don't lie to yourself that you have won, it's just because you are dad's pet" or whenever they were gong to break some rule, they tell me, not to participate that I was dad's angel. I was tormented till today," says Marjorie, a model here.

She adds that as for the less favoured child, chances are that they become rebellious, emotionally distraught, angry and resentful since they are more prone to depression. "The repercussions of favouritism are many. Not only does favouritism set up battle grounds for siblings' rivalry, it also causes a great deal of marital damage, especially if the parents often fight about the situation," she says further.

Lumba Simataa, a nurse at the Katima Mulilo State Hospital, says that in many situations favouritism is warranted. "For instance, families with a newborn will obviously "favour" the baby. Parents with disabled children normally show more signs of favouritism towards the disabled child. This same type of "necessary favouritism" does occur when a child is sick. The difference is that parents can easily explain these situations it to the other children, based on the needs perspective," she says.

She further explains that it is often common for parents to favour their same gender children. "Often, kids can write this off as acceptable because the parent and child obviously share more common interest with one another. But if there are none of the above mentioned cases, it is important that parents level the playing field for all their children. Even if a mom or dad tends to have easier time handling and bonding with one child over the other, their love for all children must remain consistent," she says

As children they always mimic their parents' behaviours.The parent-child relationship is the most important bond a child has. As they grow up, different parental manners lead to various trends in a child's behaviour. While early childhood focuses more on manners and getting along with others, middle childhood focuses on helping children become more independent rather than relying on their parents for everything. What parents do and don't do, say and don't say provides their children with the experiences that they interpret into beliefs. Those beliefs, in turn, then determine their behaviour and emotions and ultimately, their lives for better or for worse.

Lumba Simataa, a parent's behaviour at home greatly influences their children while growing up.

"It's our job as both parents and nurses to get our children to behave, to teach them and to make them happy because this is what will shape them into better knowledgeable people in future," she says adding that parents influence their child's likelihood of involvement in drugs, alcohol and risky sexual activity if they themselves are drug and alcohol addicts.

Rose Sipapela, from the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare here says that parents are responsible for their children's behaviour on a daily basis, their learning and their current happiness. "Interacting with our children is an important component that shapes these kids' views about themselves and their world," she says.

She adds that there are some parents who have negatively impacted on their children's behaviour citing the example of a family in her neighbourhood at the Cowboy resettlement here, where a mother prostitute of two girls has led the two also resorting to prostitution. She believes that parents are supposed to be role models to their children. "If parents are fighting and quarrelling in front of their kids, definitely, these children would think it's a norm to always fight in every situation.

As a well mannered parent, learn to love all children in your family and ensures that a strong foundation built on good character is laid immediately for the children to help ease the transaction from childhood to adulthood in the coming years. As a well mannered parent, it's a very humbling experience to see your children mimic your behaviour as they grow up," she states.

Source: New Era (Windhoek, Namibia)

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