I was grilled by a friend with a question that kept me thinking for weeks now. The question is so very common asked to parents and the answer is always the same. I guess I just really need to elaborate how come we (as parents) respond with that one word.
My girlfriend Tin asked me who do I love the most among my kids on the birthday party we attended few weeks back. It was the first time she saw Miguel in person and I am guessing his charm and adorable personality as a newborn brought Tin to question me.
If you would go back to your childhood, you probably remember your parents talk to their friends about who is their favorite kid among you and your siblings. Now, I am that parent and we all know how they would quickly answer: “Wala, lahat sila mahal namen, pantay pantay!” (None, we love them all equally).
I won’t contradict. It is true. Parents never and shouldn’t play favoritism. Parents love all their kids equally BUT on different grounds.
So when Tin asked me that question, I couldn’t answer at first. There goes my “uh” with matching long breath and stares at the ceiling and then “welllllllllllll………….”
I love them both no doubt about that. I have loved my daughter first and it was unconditional. But now that she is older everything changed. I switched from unconditional to tough love.
For almost five years she was our only one. All our attention and affection belonged to her. It somehow brought both good and bad outcomes. Good because her standards when it comes to love is her family, bad because we didn’t thought of early discipline.
Meanwhile, Miguel is just adorable. I’ve got no other words to describe him. Well, I guess all newborns are made that way. Since he is still helpless, I give him, if not the full, most of my attention, But this doesn’t mean I don’t spend time with Ryanne. I homeschool her, prepare her food, read her books, I bathe her and take care of her whenever she’s sick.
At this stage, whatever my son does, cry or spit up, I don’t care. I will kiss and hug him still. On the other hand, whenever my daughter does something that is not pleasing, I will not condone such action. I will raise my voice if I have to or show no appreciation. But that doesn’t mean I do not love her.
See what I mean? They are both equal in my eyes but are different. I have to be tough with my first born because she will be the role model of her brother. Whatever she does, he will follow. Which also gives us, as parents, less effort in disciplining our youngest.
That my friends is what TOUGH LOVE means. Painful but priceless.
Of course Ryanne is not all about misbehaving. There are times that I want to shed tears for her noble actions such as kindness, obedience, intelligence, a good leader and neatness. I am not saying she is all of the above all the time but what do you expect in a 5 year old?
And if people think I favor Miguel because I frequently post photos of him on social networks, I hope you realize Ry had more snapshots than her brother when she was his age. It just so happened that she now wants to do other things than posing for Mommy and Daddy.
I love them both equally but differently.