Parents believe in equal love, but that's impossible, says psychoanalyst Claude Halmos. And so much the better. Because every child is singular, and to love differently does not mean to love less.Claude Halmos
The parent-child link
And who do you prefer? Your daddy or your mom?
Children - at least those who could not escape by proclaiming: "I prefer chocolate!" - seldom forget the anguish and guilt that these falsely innocent questions provoked in their minds, generally posed in the sweetest tone possible by adults as sadistic as they were disrespectful of their person. Becoming parents, they sometimes find their echo on the couch of the psychoanalyst when they try to identify and understand the links that unite them to their children.
"Do I love all my children so much, do I like them all the same?" are all nagging questions that can ravage their lives. Why do these questions weigh on some parents of such a weight? The answer is to be found, for many of them, in their history. The adult who has seen, as a child, his parents play indefinitely the game of "differences" and "preferences" can not calmly consider the question of the love he gives to his children. And the same goes for one who, all his childhood, loved - or hated - exclusively one of his parents.
But in the way of apprehending the relation to the child, the personal history is not alone in question. The parents who approach it are indeed, without knowing it, prisoners of the reductive vision that our society of the link parent-children.
A singular bond with each child
To speak of this link in fact, having to characterize it only the vaguely vague notion of love is to deny its complexity. However, the link to one's child is among the most complex that an adult can weave . For two reasons. First, because it is for him the place of all the "projections", all the "rehearsals", all the more difficult to spot that they often refer to very archaic periods of its history. In the relationship with his child - near if any of his relatives - the adult often unconsciously finds what was the essence of the most important attachments, the most intimate and the most hidden of his childhood, the trace of the first "others" of his life who shaped his mind as well as his sensitivity and his body.
But the complexity of the parent-child bond is not just about fantasies. It is also about reality. To love one's children is to feel special and particularly strong feelings , not for a single "object" - as in the case of a lover, a mistress, a father or of a mother - but for many.What's more, perfectly different from each other. No child, in fact, is like his brother or sister. And it is probably to forget it - because it is not easy to live - that the adult groups so often his offspring under the generic name "my children", which allows him to put everyone " in the same bag ".
In fact, and even if the parent does not realize it, the bond that he weaves with each of them is each time singular, unique . Its characteristics vary first according to the sex of the "beloved". The bond that unites a mother to her teenage daughter is not the same as that which binds her to the son with whom she discovers the difficulties of "being a boy" ... This link also varies according to the age of the child. child - we do not like in the same way a big guy of 25 years old and a little boy of 18 months - but also of his personality, his character, of which each line is tied in a certain way with each of the traits from that of each parent and is the backdrop to a particular relationship each time.
But in the "parent-child" couple, the differences are also in the parents' camp. Françoise Dolto often repeated it: siblings do not all have the same parents. Why? Because everyone is coming to a particular moment in the life of their father and mother. The woman who gives birth at age 35 to her third child is no longer the one who, at age 18, gave birth to her first child. How can one imagine that it can weave with one and the other similar bonds?
Reducing, the vision in terms of love is also dangerous, because it leads to pose the problem in quantitative terms: a little? a lot? passionately? This conception in the form of a balance weighs on both the parents, in whom it opens the door to all guilt, and on the children who, feeling this guilt, "titillate" often: "Of course, it is always me that you yell, you do not love me! " And can, therefore, become bogged down in a state of permanent claim and dissatisfaction.
So we should go from "quantitative" to "qualitative" and not ask ourselves "how much" we like - a question that we can not answer - but "how" we like it. And admit that one does not like "the same" all his children. Which does not mean that we like them "more" or "less", but only that we like them "differently". Which is, moreover, the case of all our objects of love. For example, we have very strong feelings for all the friends closest to us. They are therefore "tied" for the "amount" of love we give them. But the "quality" of each link differs. We love Mary for her enveloping sweetness, Pierre, for her invigorating energy, and so on. Loves are like songs. They do not all have the same words, not all the same music ...
Are these differences of link harmful to children? In no case. First of all, because one can - and one must - if need be, report back to them: "I go shopping with your sister because she is 16 and she loves clothes. I'm playing Lego because that's what interests you, you're not her, she's not you. " And above all, because these differences, far from being for them a factor of difficulties, constitute on the contrary an essential contribution.