“It’s not fair!!!” Have you heard this complaint from a child you care about? It’s a tough one, right? Parents, teachers, ministry leaders: the truth is that in ourselves we can’t truly make things fair and right for every child. We are not that capable. We are not that wise. When children perceive that things aren’t fair for them, their minds immediately go to the suspicion that some other child is your favorite.
Are you the parent of more than one child? If so, which one is your favorite? I know what you are thinking. “I don’t have a favorite. I love them all the same!” Hmmmmm. Are you a teacher? A kids’ ministry leader? If so, which child in your classroom or ministry is your favorite? I hear you….”I don’t have a favorite! I love them all!” Hmmmmm. Maybe, maybe not.
Multiple studies have carefully researched family dynamics to determine whether parents really do play favorites. Guess what? They do! Anywhere from 60% to 74% of parents acknowledge that they show preferential treatment to one child. Not surprisingly, studies also report that when parents show preferential treatment to one child over another, there is definitely the chance that the “unfavored” one will be negatively impacted and may suffer a damaged sense of self-worth.
Ouch! That doesn’t seem fair, does it? But it certainly does seem understandable. Children are people; parents are people; teachers are people. In the same way that we “click” with some of our friends more than with others, we may simply enjoy the personality of one child more than others. Or perhaps one child needs us more than others, and we give a larger part of our hearts to that child. Every child has her own unique personality, strengths, and needs. It is almost impossible to treat them equally or even to love them equally.
What is the right thing to do? The right way to love children is to love every child uniquely. Every child is fearfully and wonderfully made and is different from every other child. Their needs vary from other children and vary at different stages of life. Parents and teachers must be students of the children in their lives. Purpose to know your children so well that you will understand what they need from you. Then find ways to meet those needs.
This is how God loves us. He knows us so well and loves us so completely that He meets our unique needs. He is doing this even when it doesn’t feel like it. All of His loving actions are for our ultimate good. Though God is no respecter of persons, though he shows no partiality, there is a sense in which we can confidently say “Every child is God’s favorite”.
Because His boundless love is unconditional, and because His knowledge and understanding are unlimited, God is able to love each one of us in ways to perfectly meet our needs. Does He treat each one of us exactly the same? He does not. Does He love each one of us perfectly? He does. We will not be able to love perfectly on this earth, but what we can do is know our children and love them uniquely. Let’s give our hearts to loving each child the way God loves them. After all, they are all God’s favorites.