“Hello, do you have a minute?”, was the question on the other end of the phone line. I hesitated for some few minutes in answering the question, not knowing whether to say yes or no. I could feel the uneasiness of the voice. It was not his usual pleasant voice I am used to on the phone. Finally, I managed to ask, “What is it about, is everything alright?”. I needed to know in order to respond appropriately. From past experiences, I know that whenever he asks for a minute, it is always hours. “It is about my children. I am really frustrated. I do not know why my second son cannot just be like his elder brother?”, he fumed. “Take it easy my brother “, I consoled him. Daniel (not real name) was my school mates and we have been friends for decades. God has blessed each of us with two boys and a girl. He was very frustrated because his second son was not behaving the way he wanted him to behave. He has created his own standard for his second son in his first son. He wanted his second son to behave just like his first son and because his second son was not doing that, he was frustrated.
I am very sure the above scenario is very familiar to most of us whether as parents or children. Very often as parents we become stereotyped with a particular standard and expect all our children to fall in line. I am no exception. I had such mind set too until I was tutored. My friend (Daniel) case gave me the opportunity to transfer the knowledge I acquired some years ago in a Doctor’s consulting room to him. I had sent my two sons Yinyelsame (Elnathan) and Aloyine (Asa) to the hospital because they had catch flu from School. Yinyelsame, my first son, was then three years and Aloyine, my second son, was two years. Yinyelsame was very hyperactive then and Aloyine was very calm. Immediately we entered the consulting room, I sat in front of the Doctor and sat Yinyelsame on my left lap and Aloyine on my right lap. Within seconds, Yinyelsame was off my laps and straight to the tap and turned it on. I got up to put the tap off, then he turned to another thing and to another thing and to another thing unstoppable. All this while the Doctor was just quite and observing us. In my frustration I shouted at him, “Why can’t you just be like your brother Aloyine (Asa)?”. At that point the Doctor laughed and said, “My brother, calm down and sit down and allow him to express himself whatever way he wants”.
I left him alone and sat down with Aloyine. Then the Doctor asked, “Do you actually think your first son can be like your second son?”. I answered yes and he asked why and I said, “Because they are from the same mother and father”. He laughed very sarcastically and asked me about the Secondary School I attended. I refused to answer so he quickly added, “Did you go to Mfantsipim School?”. When I said no, he said that is the reason why I do not know that two living beings in the same environment will never be the same. I was angry that he thought the only best Secondary School in Ghana is Mfantsipim but I was also curious to learn from him. I asked him to explain his statement. He told that we have a term called “Ecological Niche”. He explained that in every ecology, you will never have two living species have the same characteristics, ach of them will assume a niche called ecological niche. He went further to break it down by saying that the first living species to inhabit an ecology will assume certain characteristics and when the second and subsequent ones come they will all also assume unique characteristics not occupied by the ones that came before them. “This is the reason why your first son will be like your second son and verse vice”, he concluded. It was an eye opener for me as a parent and since then I have never compared my children again. I tried to respect their differences or uniqueness and do my best to help them harness their differences and build on the positives so that they can grow to live their potentials.
I took Daniel my frustrate friend, through this powerful lesson I received years ago in a Doctor’s consulting room. A year after Daniel confessed to me that he no longer compares his sons to each other and it has helped him became a better father. He now looks at their uniqueness and help each build on that uniqueness. As parents, the temptation is always there to compare one child to the other. In so doing we create bitterness in our children and breed a good ground for siblings’ rivalry among our children. Genesis 25 recorded the birth of the first ever twins since creation but these were not the kind of twins the world was looking for. We expected them to have given a good account of unity between them as they have stayed together in one womb for nine months without any interference from anyone. However, they rather became bitter enemies to the extent that one coveted the other’s blessings and later had to run away to another land for fear of being killed. Apart from the fact that their rivalry started from birth, their parents did not do much to resolve this bitter siblings’ rivalry. Their parents worsened their situation when each of them decided to love one and not both. Genesis 25:28 says, “Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob”. Many siblings’ rivalries are instigated or fuelled by parents through their actions or inactions. Why should a parent choose to love of his/her own children and not all of them?
As parents we need to know that each of our children is unique and none of our children can be the same to the others. We need to respect their uniqueness and help them to develop and live their uniqueness rather than forcing them to live their other siblings’ uniqueness. God has set each of our children apart so we should not as parents force them to mix. God told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5 that “………….., before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Parents should not force any of their children that God has set apart to be Teachers to become Engineers or those God has set apart to be Footballers to become Doctors or those God has set apart to be Musicians to become to Lawyers. It is the responsibility of parents to identify the uniqueness of each child and help each child to develop and fulfil their unique potential. The footballer does not really need 80% in Mathematics like the Engineer. The Footballer probably only need 65% in Mathematics. Likewise, the Engineer does not need 90% in History like the Historian. The Engineer probably need only 60% in History. The Lawyer does not need 85% in Physical Education like the Footballer. The Lawyer probably need only 65% in Physical Education to just pass and move on to the next level. We should stop making the Lawyer feel bad because he did not get 85% in Physical Education like the Footballer and so on.
It is my prayer that we will all know that our children cannot be same. The fact that one is not behaving the way we have pre-program them to behave, does not make them to be inferior to the ones who behave the way we want. Sometimes we force some of our children to behave like the other or others because of our own lack of understanding that God has set each of them apart and appointed them for a particular profession. God appointed Jeremiah as Prophet even though Jeremiah is coming from a lineage of Priests. God bless us all as we make efforts to understand our children uniqueness and support them to grow their uniqueness and fulfil their destiny.