Unequal Love

Unequal Love

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Yvonne Sit
Illustration by Yvonne Sit

Sometimes life seems to be controlled by favouritism, but young people should voice their feelings

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Shung Tak English College
by Belinda Wong, Cokyo Tsang, Kenneth Yiu, Queenie Yip and Yvonne Sit of Shung Tak English College

All children are created equal, but, as it says in Animal Farm, some are more equal than others. Many teenagers feel their parents are more interested in their siblings.

They may feel their parents pay more attention to younger brothers and sisters who need extra help, or to older children who have achieved more.

Form Four student Fei is a typical example. 'I'm often unhappy,' he says.

'I had the best grades in my class, but my brother, who is studying in a more prestigious school, also came first in his class.'

Fei's success was overshadowed.

Angela Wong is an educational psychologist who has specialised in family therapy for nearly 15 years at Catholic Diocesan schools. She says parents' preferential treatment of their children may just be human nature.

'But whether parents do this intentionally, it can have a negative effect on family relationships and the children's personality,' she says.

Parental partiality can cause many issues, such as sibling rivalry and problems in a child's attitude and emotional quotient.

'The effect on an individual can be very strong,' says Wong.

If children think their siblings are getting more attention, they will feel confused and under-appreciated. They will often go to great lengths to draw attention. On the other hand, children whose parents lavish attention on them 'never seem to have any self-doubt,' Wong says. They are so used to the attention that they believe they are entitled to love, which can make them conceited and inconsiderate.

'That's why we need to face up to this issue, as family is the first place where we learn about values and respect,' Wong adds. 'There is no one clear and simple solution to it - communication is exceptionally important.' Communication clarifies misunderstandings between parents and children, strengthening family ties.

It is rare that parents actually prefer one child to another. Parents are often under a lot of pressure, and if they don't show their affection equally, it may just be because they have other things on their minds. But young people should not be afraid to express their emotions. If you feel your parents pay more attention to your siblings, talk to them. And remember, parents want to know you love them, too.

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