Dear Dr. Bill,
We have two daughters — ages 10 and 8. Both girls are suffering from the “you love her more” syndrome. If I buy something for or spend any “mom” time with one daughter, I’m accused of loving her more than her sister! What can we do to turn this situation around?
Since BOTH of your daughters have the same complaint, here’s a question for you: could it be that you are not spending enough time with either of them? You didn’t provide much info about your family situation, but if you’re a working mom, how much time do you spend with your girls in the evenings and on weekends?
I’d encourage you not to buy into the myth that what children really need is “quality” time not “quantity” time. The quality of your relationship with your children is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend with them on a daily and weekly basis.
Even if you don’t work outside the home, it may be that you will need to make some sacrifices, cutting back on the time you spend on hobbies, church activities, even cleaning. A healthy relationship with your girls is much more important than a spotless home.
If you are spending plenty of time with your girls, then help them begin to focus on service and self-sacrifice. Point them towards the life of Jesus, who put others ahead of himself and taught us to do the same.
You might sit down as a family and read the “foot washing” passage in John 13. Then discuss what it means in the context of your girls’ relationship with each other.
In addition, praise each of your daughters when she serves her sister or puts her needs ahead of her own. It’s likely that both of them will respond positively to the extra attention from you and their relationship with each other will improve at the same time.
Thanks for writing Nicole. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.