So, where was I? Ah yes, how to avoid the problems of jealousy among siblings if you, as the parent, give more support to one child than the others.
I think part of this is to do with the family culture. Part of it is also the personality of the children. I think I have been very blessed that none of my children have (as yet) shown signs of jealousy towards a sibling. So, unlike some parents, I have been let off the hook somewhat in having to deal with it. I am grateful. When Avila was born she was ill and continued to be very ill for over three years. She and I spent an inordinate amount of time in hospital away from everyone else. It was terribly hard going – so I am grateful I didn’t have jealousy to handle too.
I assume that if all the children know they are loved, they accept more readily that one child or the other may have more need of parental time, energy and material support than they do. It might also be a good way of showing them that should they ever be in such need they will be supported to the extent that they need it.
To be honest, I think the parenting decisions over adult children when they are sick are easier to make. If your child, no matter how old they are, is ill, you would automatically want to support them. So my friend spends all that time with her daughter’s family because her daughter is ill. A couple of friends of mine have even moved house and one of those gave up her vocation to religious life to go and live near sick adult children to help care for them and the grand kids.
But what about the more difficult choices we might be – and many are faced with. Anyone who has anything to do with people with addictions will know that there is a fine line between support and enabling. It is very destructive, of course, to enable an addiction – but many parents are faced with the awful emotional blackmail of bail me out because you should attitude of the addict.
Fortunately, at this stage of my parenting journey I am not faced with many very difficult decisions. The most difficult times have been when a child was seriously ill. When Josh became seriously ill, I was in the fortunate position of having him still living at home, so while he had got gradually sicker and not realised how ill he was, I was able to spot it and take him to get medical help. His dad and I were there when he was very unstable (the first year of type 1 diabetes) and helped keep him just about well enough to stay out of hospital. We hardly need to help it at all now – he is an adult who has taken over care for himself.
One aspect of having adult children, especially those still living at home, that many parents struggle with (it seems to me) is how to hand over more and more responsibility and autonomy to them as they get older.
I think this is where home education has a massive advantage over schooling. Home educated adults begin to take more control over their own learning from early teens onwards. As they are very much more part of the family than a schooled child who is away all day and then has a pile of homework each night – home educated adults get to take more responsibility for their own life skills. For example, while I am aware that nearly all the schooled peers of my children cannot cook or budget a meal, nearly all home educated young adults (that I am aware of both around here and from online) have been cooking family meals since their mid teens and are very aware of the cost of food and how to budget.
The other mine field that we have to face as out children become adults is sex, relationships and discernment of vocation.