I have 3 kids. Boys ages 9 and 7, and a daughter age 4. Early in her life she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that has been causing varied complications in her life. Her mental capabilities are more or less on par with where they should be, and she can run around the house and such and play just like a 4 year old would. What issues she does have are mitigated with medications, but she gets ovarian cysts on regular basis and likely has Fibrous Dysplasia. So falls and other risky ventures are closely monitored. The nature and exact symptoms are not necessarily important but I wanted to paint a small picture of her needs.
My wife and I are always worried about her well being. The first thing my daughter does when I get home is come to greet me and I give her a big hug that lasts sometimes a couple minutes. When I'm around, she always asks me to do things with her and I usually comply.
Her older brothers are getting to an age that I am trying to get them to be more independent. If they are eating and watching TV and one of them asks for a glass of water, I'll suggest that they go and get it themselves. Which they usually do. I feel this is a correct course of action given their age, that if it's something they are perfectly capable of doing, then I should encourage them to do it themselves and only help if needed.
I can feel a rift between my sons and I, since in some cases I can't spend as much time with them as I do with my daughter. I work, so that's a lot of time during the week lost. My sons have friends to interact with and want to do things by themselves. I took them out for a walk yesterday and it felt like forever since it was just us.
We have talked to them plenty about their sister as far as explaining the hospital visits, safety concerns, etc. They are young enough that the gravity of it might be lost on them. I have seen them stop her from falling in some cases, so I know they are retaining something.
This "rift" is exacerbated by their grandmother that lives with us because of our need to be away from home for hospital trips and such and so I can still maintain a job. She will dote on all of them for the simplest things. I have watched her feed my 9 year old sandwiches while he just sits there. He is perfectly capable of feeding himself but she wants to "help". When she does have to leave, even for the simplest things like going to the store, I have seen one or both of them cry at the concept of them being apart for that short period of time.
Basically I worry about the relationship between me and my sons. I spend more time with my daughter partially because she needs it and because I worry about her. Her brothers are older and should, and in some cases, want to, be independent. Perhaps, given their age, this is just the natural progression of things, and I'm worried for nothing.
I could talk to them but I don't know if they will really get what I'm asking and expect to get "I get it, Dad".