THE TALE OF TWO CITIES – A mothering perspective

It was a wet Saturday afternoon and Arit Jasper had just finished her Aria(solo) to the standing ovation of the audience at the Young Olives International School Hall. The audience comprised staff, parents and students of the school and the occasion was the Annual Musical concert. As she rounded off her last note before taking a bow, Mrs. Okolo (a parent and friend to the Jaspers) scanned the audience for Arit’s mum. Realising she was absent; she hurried to the stage and gave Arit a giant bear hug and kisses in appreciation of the performance. She also ensured the moment was captured on camera. At the end of the concert, as Mrs. Okolo was making her way out of the school premises, she saw Arit in tears with her elder sister, Eno, making failed attempts to placate her.

Mrs. Okolo stopped by and enquired about the cause of Arit’s distress at which Arit, pointing to her sister, blurted out the words “It’s all her fault. I hate her! It’s because of her mum never appreciates anything I do, regardless of how hard I try or how well I perform. She is madam perfect…always acing her subjects and clearing the school prizes. Mum has never missed a Prize-Giving Day but she never attends my concerts and drama presentations. I try so hard to be like Eno so mum can appreciate me, but the truth is …I am different… I am ME. My grades are good but not excellent. Eno is the intellectually gifted one but I am gifted in the performing arts. That is not good enough for mum as she wants me to clear prizes like Eno. Aunty …is it my fault? I wish dad were back from South Africa where he is currently posted. He understands me better. You know, I really didn’t expect mum to be here today as usual, but I guess it really got to me when I received a standing ovation and she was nowhere to be seen,” she continued between sobs. “Thank you, aunty, for saving the day, I really appreciate your coming up stage,” she ended.

Eno quickly corroborated Arit’s allegations about acts of favoritism and informed Mrs. Okolo that it was hurting their sisterly relationship. She pleaded with her to speak to their mother about it. Mrs. Okolo immediately dialed her friend and enquired “Mayen, where are you? It appears you forgot about the musical concert at the children’s school today?” She continued excitedly “You should have been here. Arit had everyone mesmerized with her voice – Mayen, she got a standing ovation! You must be so proud to have such a talented daughter. I also hear she is the livewire of the school’s theatre group”. Mayen responded that she was occupied at the shop and lacked the enthusiasm to sit through a musical concert. Nevertheless, she requested Ebere Okolo to give her daughters a hug each on her behalf and inform them she would see them on the next school visiting day. Ebere ended the conversation but not before fixing an appointment to see Mayen at her shop the next morning.

At Mayen’s shop the next morning, after the usual pleasantries and chit-chats, Ebere broaches the topic, “Mayen my dear sis, it’s about Eno and Arit. Have you noticed the build-up of some resentment between them? At yesterday’s event, I witnessed a scene and Arit is hurting really bad because she believes you are constantly pitching her in competition with Eno and you do not appreciate her effort and talents. Rather, you have a “preferred daughter” and she (Arit) can never do enough to please you. Eno also confirmed the situation. You wouldn’t want to promote strife between your God-given jewels, would you”?

Mayen responds with an emphatic shaking of the head saying “Ebere, you don’t understand. Eno is an outstanding student who makes her parents proud. What we need is for Arit to emulate her. What will she do with singing Aria’s etc. in Africa? We are not in Europe where concerts are appreciated. If she devotes the time, she spends on these other things to study, she can rival Eno’s scores. I know she is intelligent also but I don’t think she is applying herself to the right things so I show displeasure”.

Ebere responds with wise counsel “ Mayen, have you ever appreciated the beauty in diversity? We were each created to be unique and different thereby complementing each other, else it would be a very monotonous world. You should thank God that Arit is no laggard and appreciate her God-given talents that can still take her to places beyond your contemplation. The way to share your love among children equitably is to support each one in their preferred endeavour thereby appreciating their uniqueness. Treating them similarly reduces the likelihood of negative competition and sibling rivalry among them. Trust me, I know what I am saying. You know my sons Akonam and Nkem are so close yet have totally different interests. Nkem is a sportsman par excellence while Akonam plays 4 musical instruments. I am at every sports event to cheer Nkem and at every concert to applaud Akonam. In fact, they tease me by referring to me as “political mummy”, because they say I never lean in either direction concerning them. That is the way to be equitable. Similarly, I am fair in punishing negative behaviour or mannerisms”.

May God grant us wisdom in raising our children.



5 thoughts on “THE TALE OF TWO CITIES – A mothering perspective

  1. Good morning
    So I read the blog and these are my takes on it.
    1. It is easier to make the older sibling jealous of the younger sibling because the younger could see the comparison as motivation as they have a few more years to get to that level whereas the older one who knows they have already passed that age know they can’t turn back time.
    2. Comparison doesn’t only cause rift between siblings, children particularly teenagers hate to be compared with their peers and that can cause a tense learning environment rather than a conducive one


  2. Sometimes, it is not deliberate that a parent fuels rivalry. Sometimes it is in the child’s perspective, a case of lack of self confidence. Sometimes it is a case of different personality types, introverts v. extroverts. It shows up often when there is a wide gap in years between siblings, making the younger idolize the older. We should teach our children to be confident, accept that they are different, unique, and to own their achievements. Yes, parents can help here by cheering them on individually, giving encouragement.

    Well done Havilah. Great topic.


  3. My take is that Parenting like every other aspect of life requires hard work. It requires commitment and dedication. The goal in mind should be to empower each child with their individualities to grow up and be an asset to society in their own ways. No two children are alike and there are many roads to success. The duty of the Parent is to encourage each child to do their best within their capabilities while ensuring they have optimal mental health and happiness. There is no room for sibling comparison here. Parents should love their children equally. A happy child will always be willing to do things to make the parents happy.

    Liked by 1 person

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