Glass Child Syndrome

Kaylee Mirabito, Staff Writer


As children grow they expect to constantly have their parents’ attention. For many of our developmental years, all we want from them is love and ceaseless motivation to not only grow but thrive. In some families this is possible, but unfortunately in many households it’s not. Glass child syndrome comes from situations where there is one disabled child in a family with multiple children. This could be a behavioral or a physical disability causing the handicapped child to require more attention and effort than the others. Glass child syndrome manifests after years of a child being looked over and expected to grow on their own as their sibling needs and takes so much care. The parents often don’t realize this disparity until the glass child is older and able to speak up about it. However, in many circumstances if the situation is mentioned the glass child is often looked down upon and classified as “selfish”.

Although society has painted this situation as black and white, there are many complexities disregarded in uninformed articles. Some believe that this only occurs in families with a physically disabled child, such as down syndrome while others argue a mental impairment may cause the same reaction in parental neglect, occasionally children who on the spectrum need more surveillance.

Even so, when applying to the mentally impaired, people declare that because there is no physical condition the disabled child is suffering from, that they do not require as much attention. Now, no one can say factually who needs more help as it fluctuates depending on the child, but what can be said is that glass children feel abandoned regardless, looked over and constantly pushed aside. These feelings can lead to extremely low self esteem and confidence. After not feeling wanted or good enough for so long it’s hard to regain those feelings. In 2022Imogen Hanvey did a study that showed glass child syndrome causes the kids affected to take on a more parental role in regard to their sibling. Prompting them to mature much quicker than their peers. Growing up with feelings of invisibility has been shown in studies to stick with them throughout their lives. It can be a struggle to learn that how they were treated as children does not reflect their worth. Many move on as adults to take more isolated and introverted roles in society because of self doubt and fear of being ignored.

While society has grown a lot in these last few decades there is still a lot more work to be done. When things like glass child syndrome continue to come to light and are brought up we need to adjust. We are a very progressive species so we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard when people speak out.