Favourite colour… favourite flavour… favourite cloak… favourite dish and dessert…

Every person has likes and dislikes, and from all the things that a person likes, each person has their favourite, preferred items. For one, it may be biryani, while for another, it may be chicken tikka. This innate preference is decided by the inclination of the individual’s heart.

Nevertheless, just as people have favourite items, most people also have a favourite child. Though they love all their children, there will be one child who will occupy a place in the heart that is slightly more special. In many cases, it is the youngest child who becomes the favourite, or the sole son among many daughters.

However, since this emotion of the heart is involuntary and cannot be controlled, a parent will not be sinful for having more love in the heart for one child compared to the other. However, what we CAN control is how we treat our children, and it is thus necessary for us to ensure that we exercise equality in the love and affection that we show them.

Whether we are smiling with them, speaking to them, giving them quality time, or laughing with them, we should not show preference to one while excluding and shunning the other. Over and above this going against the dictates of equality, which is a sin – it also leads to the one child becoming jealous of his own sibling, as well as harbouring ill-feelings and hatred for his parent. Furthermore, the other sibling sometimes develops a sense of pride, arrogance and superiority due to the preferential treatment he/she is shown.

Therefore, not exercising caution in this regard is not only a sin but a recipe for disaster – though the evil effects of this disaster may only be seen years later. At that time, due to feeling as though they were side-lined and overlooked by their parents, these children often become rebellious and disobedient, thereby bringing endless grief to their parents’ hearts.

Thus, even when we buy gifts for our children, we must ensure that we are fair and treat them equally. One child should not be given a superior gift while the other is given an inferior item. Rather, one should treat all equally and give all the same amount of wealth – unless there is a valid reason to give more to one child e.g. he is poor or ill and unable to care for himself. (For more details in this regard, see here).

It should be borne in mind that affection and love is shown in different ways to children of different ages and different genders. The father will show affection to his big son by lovingly taking him with when he goes to the masjid for salaah, while he will show affection to his small son by hugging and kissing him or buying him some small toy. Likewise, the mother’s manner of showing affection may be to prepare the favourite dish of a certain child or to sit with the child and read some Deeni story to him/her.

Hence, equality does not mean that if we read a story to the small child, then we should also read a story to the son who is now a young man. Rather, the essence of equality, in this context, is that the parent should conduct with his children in such a manner that no child feels as though he is loved less than the other.

If we show love and give attention to all our children, without making any child feel less loved than the other, then Allah Ta‘ala will be pleased with us, and insha-Allah our home will be a happy home and our children will have love for one another and for their parents in their hearts.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all to be fair to our children, and may He make our children the coolness of our eyes, aameen.