In competitive families, the needs of one person take precedence over the needs of everybody else in the family. In a desperate attempt to counter this situation, some of us try to make sure that everything is fair and equal.

Both of these positions ignore the fact that each person needs different things. The needs of each person are valid and the needs of everyone involved in a situation should be taken into account.

If you grew up in a family in which you needed to struggle for what was available, it is very difficult to be an effective parent when your own children try to manipulate you to give them everything they want. “You love my brother (sister) more than you do me!” As parents, your children will “get you” almost every time they say this.

Usually we are most vulnerable when we want to be fair and love our children “equally.” The truth is that neither you nor anyone else loves their children just the same. In trying to have things equal, your children can miss out on discovering what they need as individuals.

Explore your own beliefs. Recognize your fear of not having enough love, time, things. Then ask yourself,

  • What is the worst thing that could happen if
    I did not have enough of what I want?
  • How would I, or do I now, handle it?

You may realize that you believe that love is getting equal things and treatment. This belief generates an artificial scarcity: a grabbing for what someone else has, in order to make it “equal,” rather than an exploration of what you need.

The same can be true for your children now. In reality, it is perfectly normal and natural to have different experiences with different children and to respond to them individually. Your children are not being cheated, they are being acknowledged by your attention to their unique needs and characteristics.

If your children accuse you of not loving them the same, you could tell them, “I don’t love you the same. I love differently because you are very different people.”

Talk with them about your new attitudes and ask them what they think is unique about themselves individually. Begin to have them explore their strengths and talents and share what they are learning.

As each child develops his own interests, there are new family decisions to make about money, time, and other resources. Let everyone help to decide how to use family resources with the new perspective that everyone does not need exactly the same things.

You may even provide a reward for them for arriving at a working solution. Shifting from a fear of scarcity (inequality) to a comfortable belief that there is plenty for everyone takes some persistence and cooperation.

You may also start with the recognition that you truly cannot get enough of what you do NOT need. Addiction and compulsions cause people to seek more and more of something in an attempt to provide a satisfaction that becomes increasingly elusive.

When you discover and then take action or request what you actually need, it is easy to know when you have enough. You will find you and your children share effortlessly when you all no longer fear not having enough.

Once you get accustomed to abundance, instead of scarcity, you may find you have an abundance of all kinds of things in your life: love, money, joy and time.

[tags]self-improvement, personal growth, self-help, emotional problems, relationships, co-dependency[/tags]