Your kids are your pride and joy. You love them. Equally.
But really? Do you? Or do you maybe, secretly, have a favorite child? If so, does that make you a super bad Mom who is doomed to wreck your child – or children – equally?
Why some say having a favorite child is not good…
Some experts say showing favoritism to one child is a bad thing because it fosters an even deeper level of favoritism through a self-perpetuating cycle. This, they contend, is often the root of sibling rivalry and many relationship problems later.
The main problem, they say, is a child innately senses when a sibling is the favorite, or they develop the impression – founded or unfounded – that the other child is favored. This causes the non-favored child to either act out or act up—often in an attempt to get more of your attention. Even if the attention seeking is merely exhibited through clinginess or neediness, it can be harmful. After all, this might be why you react more positively to the other child in the first place.
Furthermore, parents often realize when this is the case. Thus, they feel a lot of guilt over it. They are dismayed by the fact they “like” one of their children more than the other. And they are even more disturbed if they think the less-favored child is picking up on their feelings.
“Sliding” favorites – is this a better option?
In some families and situations, parents pass the “favorite” status back and forth between their children. There are experts who consider this a positive thing—creating a healthy competition among siblings for the “favorite” position. The only real danger, they say, is when one child begins to hold that role too often and/or for too long.
Can you ever truly avoid having a favorite and ruining your children’s lives?
While the above theories do surely exist among family psychology experts, a greater majority say it doesn’t have to be a big deal when parents have a favorite. Everyone, they contend, plays favorites to a certain degree. And in fact, having a favorite can’t be avoided. Certain personalities just mesh better together.
Yet, that doesn’t let parents off the hook for demonstrating favoritism—especially if it’s done obviously and/or frequently. To avoid that problem, these same experts suggest you deliberately look for things to appreciate about the other child or children who you may not get on with as easily. Then, consciously seek out ways to highlight these things. Moving forward, make that the focus of as many of your ongoing interactions as possible.
Likewise, it’s important for everyone to remember that having a favorite regarding personality or general traits and behavior doesn’t equate with loving one child more than another. Love is fully and completely infinite. And love is, and will always be, completely separate from – and superior to – favor.