The Cinderella Child

In almost every household, there is a Cinderella child — a child that’s less favored than her siblings, a child that’s the lowest ranking in the parent’s priorities. Here are examples of how it plays out:

One child is freely given piano lessons, skating lessons, sailing lessons; but Cindy has to campaign for opportunities to learn. This favored child has clothes that take up 80 per cent of the shared closet — but likes Cindy’s new blouse and wants the right to wear it too. Cindy bursts into tears at the injustice, at the repeated victimization — but this incident shows something has happened to the favored child. She has become predatory.

There is a dispute between Cindy and another child — without further ado, without hearing Cindy’s side of the story, she is punished. The other child learns that lying and pretending helps him get away with everything, and it becomes a lifestyle. So a manipulator is formed.

So Cindy tries to EARN a place in the family by her performance, but her excellent performance, praised by those qualified in their field, is dismissed with the words that her sibling got a Distinction too.

The favoritism teaches the siblings to lord it over Cindy. They arrogate to themselves their right to have what Cindy has; they believe it is only right that their whims and desires come first, and Cindy’s needs are irrelevant; they believe it is right to take by force the inheritance given to her, but not to them. Her desires are not respected, her boundaries repeatedly violated. She is only told what she is to do… or else…

The family is satisfied with the system: it benefits them, after all. It gives them someone they can parasitically suck from, if they want anything. It becomes a lifestyle to notice Cindy’s assets and scheme for ways to take from her for themselves.

There are many variations of the story above, but one things remains true — in dysfunctional families, there’s always a Cinderella and it could be of either gender.

The parents set up an unspoken caste system, with often the older in the family given the higher status, ranked according to age, and the youngest the lowest status. Sometimes, it could be any one of the children that’s singled out as the lowest status, not necessarily the youngest. But this child is the one who is stripped of her rights, and is expected to serve the rest. From the time she joins the family, her status is already decided by the parents, and the rest of the family agrees, because wouldn’t it be to their advantage to use the one that’s designated as servant of all?

For those who resonate with this story, who feel that this story somehow describes them, I feel for you. But there is hope.

Because there’s also a Prince — a Prince who Sees Everything, and His name is Jesus.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. — Galatians 5:1

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