Every parent knows they don’t choose their children. The little things come into the world with their own personalities, likes and dislikes, laughs and tears.

One of the most difficult situations parents can find themselves in is when one of their children is stuck in a time of difficulty and crisis, while the other is not. If you’re in this situation, each day that comes will make you feel more and more like you don’t know what to do. Should you praise the child doing well? What if it makes the other one feel bad about themselves? Maybe you find yourself giving all your time and attention to the one who’s struggling because you’re a good parent? Or what if some days you feel like ignoring the difficult child and focusing on the one that reminds you of everything you dreamed of when you started a family? At some point, the parent will have felt it all, but still not know the best approach.

If you have more than one child and only one is going through extreme hardship of some sort, we have a few strategies to help parents cope.

  • Remember that love is not a finite resource, that there’s plenty to go around, and you aren’t in a position where you have to choose between your children.
  • Know that it’s ok to praise the child who is doing well.
  • Know that it’s ok to devote more resources to the child who is struggling.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you momentarily feel disappointed in your family.
  • Remember that it’s possible for your family to be whole again.
  • Don’t view either child as proof of your successes or failures as a parent.
  • Remember you will be able to handle every situation that comes your way.
  • Know that you don’t have to be a superhuman and you will make mistakes.
  • Remember that your mistakes will not result in your family’s downfall.
  • If need be, know it’s ok to turn for others to help.