While the subject remains taboo, most parents have a favourite child. The Wall Street Journal points to research that supports this — in one recent study, 75 per cent of mothers confessed they felt closer to one of their adult children, while another report found that 70 per cent of fathers and 74 per cent of mothers acted on those feelings and demonstrated preferential treatment.
Favouritism happens — it’s normal for parents to connect with different children on different levels at different times. And while they might love all of their children fiercely, they might not really like the one who’s become moody and mumbly and obsessed with fidget spinners lately. As one parent on Reddit explained, “Honestly, it’s a day-by-day or even moment-by-moment kind of thing, based 90% on behavior at the time.”
But consistently treating one kid better than the others is where things can become unhealthy. The child who believes he isn’t Mum and Dad’s most prized offspring is more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, where as the favoured one can feel responsible for straining sibling relationships.
The WSJ piece gives some good tips for keeping things balanced among your children. (For example, don’t compare. “Look how nicely Riley is sitting at the table and eating her broccoli. She’s not slumping over and making spaghetti castles — can’t you be more like her?”) But the most important thing, the experts say, is to accept that favouritism probably exists. If you’re open to criticism from your children or outside observers, you’ll be better able to address any issues and foster a family dialogue where everyone feels supported and heard.
Parents Do Have a Favourite Child [Wall Street Journal]