A PAPER PRESENTED AT THE INTERNATIONAL PARENTING SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY ANTOSCIENCE EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANCY
PARENTAL DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT (PDT)
by Rachel Tsimba Matondo
Introduction: We will be discussing what is known as Parental Differential Treatment (PDT). For some of you, this might be your first time hearing the term. So, let me put you at ease by showing you that you are in fact already familiar with what I am talking about. For the last 10 to 15 years, Africa has witnessed an increase in campaigns targeted towards getting girls to attend school at the same rate as boys do. Because our African Societies often assume that a girl can get married as a remedy to social hardship whereas boys will have to provide for their family. As a result, parents have practiced a Differential Treatment for boys and girls in regard to school attendance. You see that even without knowing the term, you are familiar with the practice.
The questions at the heart of our conversation today are therefore going to be: " DO I TREAT ALL MY CHILDREN EQUALLY? And if not, WHY IS IT THE CASE? CAN DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT NEGATIVELY IMPACT THEM? And finally, HOW CAN I CHANGE MY TREATMENT TO POSITIVELY IMPACT MY CHILD? In Europe and North America, the equal treatment of children is a core/strong value. The topic is therefore being more and more researched. However, it is not yet the case in Africa.
-Definition: We now need to define Parental Differential Treatment ( PDT ), and the first point that needs to be made is that it differs from favouritism. PDT is how parents behave " toward one child relative to their behaviour toward other children in the family " (Finzie-Dottan & Cohen, 2010, p.4) There is a difference in affection, support, and control. FAVOURITISM is the evaluation of differences in parenting regarding whether whether they are preferential or one - sided in favour of one of the siblings (Volling, 1997). If you are struggling with this definition, you can go back to our example, the differential treatment of boys is not because we necessarily view our boys as our favourite children but because we answer to a strong social construct.
There are two parts to Parental Differential Treatment ( PDT ): the first part is the parental treatment which consists of two factors namely affection and guidance which include control. The second part which is equally important is the child perceived treatment. How do we therefore measure Parental Differential Treatment? It is in the mind of the observer. It is subjective based on experience and interpretation. It is analysed by looking at parental-sibling interaction.
What are the reasons for Parental Differential Treatment? We first have the child characteristics. Gender : As I have explained in my first example above, the parental treatment between boys and girls makes gender a key factor in Parental Differential Treatment. Age : The older child of any family bears an unrecognised burden to help the parents with any tasks they might be assigned, especially in regards to their younger children. Once again, our family values burden the older child within the structure. Disability : Every parent with a disabled child has no choice but to provide special care for that child, this goes without saying. However, the other children still need to be considered and provided with what they might need or require. (Perceived ) Aptitude : Parents often believe that if a child is considered bright or displays promise, they should be given further assets because they are the most likely to succeed. Many children take time to demonstrate their full potential, and how good a child is at a young age is not a definite determinant for future success.
Then we have parents factors. First we have their attitude towards equal treatment. Do they consider this as a core value? Then we look at their own parental rearing history. How were they themselves raised? The third factor is learning through experience. Parents often say they became a better parent with the second or the third child. And the final one is parenting ressources. The more ressources a family has the more choices it has to improve the family dynamic.
We also have family factors that can cause Parental Differential Treatment. The dynamics of a family of 4 are simply not the same as those of a family of 10. Secondly the type of the family also matters. A blended family might bring a different approach all together.
Case study: we are going to conduct a simple individual case study of your own family. On a piece of paper write the name of all your children starting from the eldest to the youngest. Then, every time you answer yes to any of the following questions, you should put a cross next to their names. Questions to parents: (1) Who do you routinely ask to help with the chores (cooking, dish washing, house cleaning, grocery shopping, etc...)? (2) Who do you routinely ask to help look after the other siblings (wash them, clothe them, help them with their homework, pick them from school, etc...? (3)Who, when all the children are busy doing their school work ( homework, study for exams, etc...) you routinely interrupt and ask for help with various tasks? (4) When you need help, do you ever stop and consider that any other children could help just as efficiently than the one you thought of first?
Questions to your child: (1) Do you feel that your parents treat you differently compared to your brothers/sisters? (2) Do you get interrupted by your parents when doing your school work? For each child, add up all the crosses as to give each one of them a score. You will find that you put an undue burden on the girls, on the older children, and on those you perceive as being less gifted in academic matters. As a result, if you are the oldest girl and are perceived as not necessarily gifted, you are the likeliest to be affected by Parental Differential Treatment.
Conclusion: This topic is exhaustive. As you would expect, we barely scratched the surface since we did not touch on maternal/paternal différences in Parental Differential Treatment. We did not address the case of an only child for instance, and so on. However, if I may leave you with a thought today, it is to ask your children individually : " whether they think that you treat them differently to their other siblings? You will find that their answer could become a teachable moment for both of you. Their answers are merely feedback on your parental skills in order to help you know what your child might need and how you can better help them to achieve their goals and dreams. The value we put in our families is our greatest strength and by listening to one another we can only strengthen those bonds. Thank you for your time and i now welcome your questions to further the debate.
Can't this parental differential treatment sometimes be natural?...for instance there are children with peculiar blessing either a gifted child.... a child for instance a mother was pregnant of...had accident but was miraculously saved....don’t you think these kid or children will have special place in the parents or mother's heart?
“But shouldn't all children feel special in their parents 'heart.
Yes I think so...but there are children that have peculiar memory in life”
Another participant responded, thus: “Of course you should not be discouraged. As I always say look for your child strength and grow them. Nobody is good at everything thing and we have all failed at something.
My parents assign duties 2 every1 at intervals.
I enjoyed my parents home so much.
Every1 cooks (2girls 4boys)__am d 1st child
Every1 study without distractions
Every1 prays etc
I have my child
By God's grace duties & responsibilities distributes equally according to age & size.
Their day 2 day activity is been controlled & granted if necessary.”
………… That being said, I personally don't think chores should be meant for any particular gender but, I do think assessing your child and knowing what they do with ease can help you delegate chores.
………………… Every child is special no matter the circumstance behind their birth, and should be treated equally
From d fourth paragraph;
...how good a child is @ young age is not a definite determinant 4 future success.
.. I think the mothers have a huge role to play concerning this lecture about parenting/children
Speaker responds: .. You are absolutely right. I always give as an example of a child who failed at math all trough out secondary school and ended up gaining a master in physics at university. Thank you.
My kid brother is an example and is still happening in our different families today.
Please let’s try to help our calm dull child to brighten up with others & also still caring 4 other members of d family @ d same time.
… I grew up in a family Where you can not diffentiate a boy From a Girl because my mum randomly gives us various task e.g She will call up a girlchild to do a task that most people will consider been a boy's task while She will callup a boy child to do a task that the society may consider been a girl's task.
From her perspective She Does that So a child can stand individually/Independently If he/she happens to be alone sometime, someday.
Frankly speaking that Training made me fit in many areas of life today
.. From d fifth paragraph;
... the more resources a family has, d more choices it has to improve the family dynamic.
I wish d fathers will understand this. They're so jealous that to step out to get something is a problem. Spousal support is the height of encouragement in grooming children.
… My brothers today , their wives are So pleased in most help They render in d family . And I believe the training has alot to do with their present contribution in d family.
Dr Mrs Nwachukwu CAN: "Many children take time to demonstrate their full potential, and how good a child is at a young age is not a definite determinant for future success." I firmly agreed on this because at that tender age children are in their developmental stages and there will be great improvement in attitude and behaviour. I strongly believed in this Igbo adage ejighi ututu ama njo ahia. Parents should treat their children equally irrespective of any factor either positive or negative.
… Am I correct if I say parenting is daily becoming more difficult by the day? It requires conscious efforts which mean it should be a major training for all in schools, churches, mosques and every opportunity. Just as we are looking towards making entrepreneurship a major course, parenting too should as poor patenting is really affecting our society.
.. I agree with you on this. Child development differs and parents should help them during these stages and not allow them inferior to their siblings. Also comparison amongst children by parents is another mistake most parents make. We as parents should understand that every child is different and special and should be treated as such.
…. Am sharing this aspect as an encouragement to someone out there that might be in the Same situation of having a child that at a point was not doing up to expectation
But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself.John Frank