Most families have a ‘special kid’ or two; they are the often-sick kids and the allergic-to-all-things kids. These sort of kids always requires mommy’s and daddy’s attention more than their siblings. In most cases, these special kids had once had prolonged sickness or brutal accident, and the family had feared they would lose them.
This underlying fear of loss goes on to influence their parent’s interaction and relationship with them. Also their siblings feel they are ‘special’ and ‘unique’.
While it’s easy to understand the reasons for this fear, especially in often-sick kids, too much of the attention and care being showered on them, at the expense of their siblings, could result in a negative effect on the child and even the rest of the family.
Let’s take an example of a child with sickle cell disease; this child obviously needs lots of attention to survive and live longer. It will be foolhardy no to take special treatment and care for such a child. But most times, this could result in giving less attention to the other children, and if this isn’t properly managed, it may lead to deep-seated feelings of discontent and resentment.
In a close-knit and vocal families, if a child feels neglected, he might speak up or act so as to draw the parent’s attention. It’s quite important for parents of special-need children to give as much attention as possible to all children equally.
Also, the tendency of parents to build up different kids according to their perceived physical strength, could result in even more problems for these kids. Making a physically strong child do all the chores because he does it better might end up being interpreted as being harder on them or lacking in love.
The special kids get exemptions from a whole lot of things – they get away with stuff, everything gets done for them, excuses are made for their failures. You end up with polar opposite children – one who has led a relatively independent life of doing things for themselves and self-reliant, and the other who has become used to having things done for them, dependent and inadequately equipped to face life’s challenges.
It is difficult for most parents to realize the effect of this divide and what special treatments or limitations do to the individuals as adults. Speaking to most adults who had some sort of special treatment, they express a form of regret and wish they had been given equal treatment and disciplines as their other siblings.
So to all parents of special kids out there we feel your pain, but don’t neglect to let your kids know you love them equally, and strengthen them to survive without you.