General Question

Hambayuti's avatar

Is there such a thing as a "favorite" child?

Asked by Hambayuti (1380points) July 3rd, 2009

Parents should love their children equally – and I’m sure they do. But if you have more than one child, the temptation to show favoritism may be something you fight.

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51 Answers

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It definitely exists, even though it shouldn’t. My cousins’ mother was like that, to a high degree. She favored her daughter over her two sons, and it was extremely obvious is numerous ways.

marinelife's avatar

Oh, my yes. My brother (only boy), my middle sister (most like my Mom in personality) and my youngest sister (the baby) were totally singled out in various ways.

SirBailey's avatar

My brother was favored at the exclusion of myself and sister. EVERYONE noticed it. We haven’t spoken for 20 years and never will.

Er, don’t be so sure parents love their children equally. Don’t.

charliecompany34's avatar

unfortunately, yes. surprisingly though, “middle children” who get the short end of the stick all the time, usually shine in the long run.

Hambayuti's avatar

@SirBailey – Yeah, I know what you mean. When I was younger, I’ve always had this feeling that my younger sister was my mom’s favorite and I was my Dad’s. But during a recent family reunion, she kind of mentioned that she was jealous of me when we were younger because she felt that I was more “favored” by both our parents. Anyway, I have a son and I’m trying for another child. Sometimes this thought comes to my mind and it scares me. I love my son so much but what if I have another child and I favor one than the other? I don’t want that to happen but then…maybe it won’t be something I can control. Just thinking.

watdat's avatar

yes there is. sad but true. only, parents don’t want to admit this because it’s taboo as far as “good parenting” goes. and plus we really don’t want our children getting emotionally scarred by this. but yes…definitely yes.

casheroo's avatar

I’m sure there is a favorite in most families, but probably in different ways. I know I’m the favorite as in my parents like to “spoil” me more than my brother, but they like my brother for other things.
I only have one kid, and he’s my favorite so far mwahaha I’m not sure how different it will be when we have another. He’s definitely our test kid, getting all our mistakes out on him. Poor guy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ve often wondered about this myself (nice questions, you have) – there was favoritism towards my brother as the boy in the family, he was allowed more, my parents are your true and tried sexist people but on the other hand they also made him feel bad for not doing so well as me when we came to America and it was harder for him to learn English and do well, academically – he’s passed away so I don’t know how it all would have played out…now I have 2 children and they’re both under 3 and I don’t think I have a favorite as they both came about in different circumstances, to different fathers at different points in my life – they’re just different and sometimes I want to hang with one more than the other but that’s just because I feel that I’ve been with the other too long and should show equal attention…I understand that I may get along with one more than the other, don’t know if it’ll happen but I don’t know why that’s such a strange concept…I’m sure my partner will find the child that he’s more in tune with as well…that’s okay, too…none of our children will ever be neglected but it may come to be that one of us is able to talk more easily to one of the kids…we also plan on having two more so amongst them 4 I’m sure there will be some I get along with more but I won’t favorite them over others…and I will NEVER compare them, I made that promise to them when they were born

SirBailey's avatar

@Hambayuti, there’s always gonna be a favorite. There’s always gonna be one child that is more like you then the others.

But you have to not show it. Ever. Is that hard? Hey! Nobody said parenting is easy. And be open to complaints of your other children when they accuse you of that. Be open when people all over tell you that.

P.S. My father died before my mother. My mother left everything to my brother.

YARNLADY's avatar

The worst mistake I ever made was to tell one of my grandsons that he was my favorite. It wasn’t true, but I was trying to make him feel better. He bragged to the other two, and to this very day, they believe it.

fireinthepriory's avatar

My mom definitely enjoys spending time with my brother (her oldest son) more than she does the rest of us, but I believe her when she says she loves us all the same. She’s very good about parenting us each in a way that meshes with our personalities without making us feel unequal. Or those of us that are adults feel that we have been very much equally treated… the little ones still at home sometimes don’t, but I’m confident they’ll get over it as they mature. :)

On a related note, I used to really favor my two brothers over my three sisters, but I’ve gotten to the point where I get along very well with all but one of my siblings.

SirBailey's avatar

@fireinthepriory, it’s actually not related as far as I see. Your relationship with your siblings didn’t give them a self worth as they were growing up (in all probability). My mother’s favoritism messed up my life. I’ve had to work very hard to fix it.

And the worst part is, as a child, I didn’t realize it. I thought it was ME.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s not PC to speak of favorites, but parents definitely have a favorite child. Their behavior speaks of it loud and clear.

I stopped competing for my parents’ love long ago. I get some. That’s enough.

Hambayuti's avatar

@SirBailey – hmmmm…your P.S. got to me.

fireinthepriory's avatar

@SirBailey I’m sorry, that sucks. Parents often screw up their kids, whether they mean to or not.

In terms of me and my sibs, I actually have quite a parental role in my siblings’ lives. My father died when I was 11 and I became the functional second parent for my two sibs, who were 4 and 8 at the time – watched them after school, made dinner most nights, put them to bed a few nights a week etc. A few years later my mom got remarried and then had 3 more kids. I feel parental towards the second set because I’m so much older than they are. To the little guys I guess it’s more like being an aunt at this point because I’ve left the house, but the older two often call me to get advice I think might come from my mom if she weren’t busy with the little guys or our dad if he were still alive. Honestly I really like being able to give them that support, and I do try to make sure that they (well, my sister in particular) feel that I like/love them both the same.

augustlan's avatar

I have three children, all girls, all close in age. They are so different, it would be impossible to pick a favorite. It’s apples to oranges. I love all of them equally, of course, but I love different personality traits about each of them.

I was very sensitive to the fact that some siblings believe another is the ‘favorite’, so here’s what I’ve always done: I’ve made sure, all their lives, to tell each one that she is my very favorite <insert age here> year old, my very favorite <insert grade here> grader, and my very favorite <insert name here> in the whole wide world. :D

Hambayuti's avatar

okay, I just suddenly got the creeps! I was going to click on something when I happened to notice the Fluther message (right below our user name) . It said “Don’t tell anyone—you’re our favorite.”



cak's avatar

There are times when parents do show more attention to one child versus another, it’s normal. I’m sure some parents have favorites and maybe I would have to fight with this if my children were closer together in age. I’m not sure, because my children are 9 years apart. To me, they are so radically different that each day, I find time to dedicate alone to each of them, and it’s totally different.

I see it with my best friend, she favors her daughter over her sons and it’s very sad. It’s very obvious to everyone, except her.

chelseababyy's avatar

Most definitely. I was the one who was abused and beaten. My brother who is younger by a year and a half was given my Mom’s Navigator as his first car, then she proceeded to buy him a brand new Jetta GLI. He carries around her credit card, comes and goes as he pleases. And yet, I was forced to stay in, not have friends, and not get my license. Hm.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@chelseababyy Ugh. I’m sorry. That’s really horrible. :(

SirBailey's avatar

@chelseababyy, when I was your age, I was forced to not get a license either! And I went to Driver’s Ed!!! My brother said if I got a license HIS insurance would go up, so my mother stopped me from getting it. All the while, what he really wanted was to be THE driver of the family (Dad did not drive) and it gave him “power”.

Judi's avatar

@SirBailey ; siblings can wreak havoc on a kids self worth. I was 5th in a family of six and had a stunningly beautiful older sister. My big brothers were always on my case to be more like Jacque. It was awful and it took 800 miles and years of therapy to get over it!

skfinkel's avatar

I thought, after I had my first child, that I would never be able to love another child as much as I loved this one. Then my second child was born. And I loved this one in the same incredible deep way. And it was then I realized that it didn’t matter how many children I had, I would love them all with all my heart. And I did, and I do.

ru2bz46's avatar

Several times, I’ve overheard my mother tell people that I was her favorite, followed by my youngest (yet still older) sister. I think the rest of my siblings sensed it, too.

marinelife's avatar

My husband was the favorite. It did him no favors as he will say. It shapes his relationship with his brother to this day.

SuperMouse's avatar

Like @augustlan I have three children. Mine are all boys and are very close in age as well. I do have favorites, but they change from day to day, minute to minute. Like @augustlan said, they are all so different it is impossible to compare. I read a Family Circle cartoon once where the mom said, “A mother’s love doesn’t divide, it multiplies” with each child, for me, no truer words have been spoken. I make a point of carving out some time alone with each of them every day and making them all know that they are special to me. I make sure they all know they were wanted and are always loved.

Growing up my mother always favored my oldest brother and my dad seemed to favor pretty much everyone but me.

filmfann's avatar

My mom’s favorite was my brother, because he was “an answer to a prayer”.
My dad’s favorite was my oldest sister.
That said, I don’t think any of us felt unloved. We all felt like we were important parts of our family.
I honestly don’t have a favorite of my three (one is a step). But my wife recently told me she had a favorite. And it wasn’t who I thought it was.

Jeruba's avatar

My husband’s parents blatantly favored his brother. Mine didn’t play favorites at all. They treated each of the four of us individually, and we all understood that. I think they kept things equitable, and I don’t remember feeling envious, but it was plain that they tailored both rules and privileges to the person. We’ve tried to do the same with ours, and I honestly do not feel any preference between them, so it isn’t difficult.

I tell them both what I love and admire about them and treasure in them, always in positive terms but not comparative or superlative. For instance, I will say “You have a wonderful ability to…” or ”...a special gift for…” or “Your ability to laugh at yourself is one of your most charming traits,” but I don’t say “You are the most/best/my favorite/etc.” or compare them with each other.

dannyc's avatar

And those less favored are often trying to prove something to someone as a result. This often may lead to business success, or extreme hard work and dedication, yet in a lonely, unsatisfying and ruthless way. Parents have power and only through conscious knowledge can this tendency sometimes be overcome. A great movie to recommend on this subject, Best Picture sometime long ago, was “Ordinary People”. A brilliant piece of work (I believe Robert Redford directed). For those who are the victims of such parents, this movie will make you uncomfortable. And surely, it is a subtle potent form of abuse meted via the one person who knows you better than anyone, and who is expert at pushing your buttons.

Darwin's avatar

I love both of my children. However, one of them is easier to like than the other simply because of personality.

The one that is harder to like is the child that actually gets the lion’s share of my time and attention because he won’t do what he is supposed to so I have to ride herd on him.

My daughter, who is a neat person, gets less of my time because she gets good grades, tells me where she is going, does what she says she will when she says she will, and in general is a hard-working, ambitious and conscientious person.

However, today my son accused me of always “getting up in his business” while I let his sister do whatever she wants. Little does he know how many times his sister has sacrificed her plans because of him, or how often I have gone to his events instead of hers because she is able to understand that sometimes I have to do certain things instead of others but he does not.

* Sigh *

ru2bz46's avatar

@Darwin I know too many pairs of siblings just like yours. At first, I found it really odd and frustrating, then I remembered the Prodigal Son. Now I realize there’s one in every crowd.

chelseababyy's avatar

@DrasticDreamer What doesn’t kill ya, makes you stronger, you know? And thank you.

@SirBailey I went to drivers ed too. My mom hid my permit so I couldn’t get my license. Also she caused me to not graduate. After that, she took my birth certificate and social security card, just to make things harder for me once she kicked me out. Luckily I’m smarter than she thinks. On June 16th of this year I went to see my brother graduate in Jersey, and at his grad party I felt like a complete piece of shit. My mom made a speech about how proud she is of him. I felt completely alienated, like I shouldn’t have ever made the trip. I sat on the porch during her speech (about a minute in I walked out because I couldn’t handle it) I just didn’t understand. Why me? I have three other siblings that are treated like royalty. I love my brother to death but because of my mother I sometimes resent him. I didn’t have 1/8th of anything he’s ever had. It’s hard to realize you’re the outcast in a family of 4 kids. Realizing that your mother never loved you like she loved the others. It’s a hard and horrible thing to go through, but showing everyone who never believed in you, showing people that doubted you, backstabebd you, that you*are* better than they ever thought you could be, is definitely worth it.

ru2bz46's avatar

@chelseababyy I have a friend whose parents told her (as a teenager) that they were having another baby so they could do it “right” this time. They had given up on her. They put all their resources into the new daughter. My friend resented her little sister for this and grew up to do things that made her parents proud (especially when they look at how crappy their “replacement daughter” turned out) in spite of themselves.

chelseababyy's avatar

@ru2bz46 That’s harsh. See for me it was like this. Abuse – Verbally, Emotionally, Physically and Psychologically. While I was being isolated from any friends I ever had, my younger brother came and went as he pleased. While I was struggling to find a way to work through it all, he was given anything and everything he wanted and needed. The thing that hurt me most was when I was taken out of my parents house for a few months. He had seen the abuse first hand, and still lied in favor of my mom just to keep his great life in tact. I’ve looked at it from his position tons of times, and still, I don’t see where clothes, cars and money are greater than my well being. But then again, why ruin it by telling family services the truth? Why help someone who would do anything for you? Oh right.. because life is all about the material things, about being mommy’s little boy. Not about making sure your sister is okay, making sure she’ll be able to make it through.

ru2bz46's avatar

@chelseababyy It pains me to read your words. On the bright side, you are building strength and character. I was about to quote Nietzsche, but realized you just did in your quip to @DrasticDreamer above.

Your brother’s actions show weakness, and ultimately, I feel more sorry for him in the long run. You will be able to stand on your own, though you will struggle with your scars.

Your brother has been handed everything and made so cushy that he cannot even do what’s right in fear that he may lose that for which he didn’t even have to work. How pathetic and weak is that?

I feel for you and wish that you did not have to endure your upbringing, but I know you’ll have the stregnth to do what’s right and stand up for those in need when called upon. Your mother sucks, but she actually gave you much more than she gave your brother in the end. :-)

Edit: By the way, you may want to check out the link about the Prodigal Son, too.

chelseababyy's avatar

@augustlan Hugs back. Thank you dear. :]

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

definitely. Good Parents love all their children the same, but they don’t like them all the same.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@chelseababyy I’m sorry for everything you’ve went through, I know some friend who had situations like yours and it really does tear away at them constantly. but as you said earlier, I’m sure you’ve become quite independent and self reliant over the course of things. When people are faced with trying times they come out in one of two ways, either cynical and spiteful, or understanding and compassionate, never be the prior.

chelseababyy's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 Luckily for me, I’m very compassionate. However some bad qualities have come out of it. I yearn for compassion, to be loved and wanted, and luckily I get that every day from my boyfriend. Though he doesn’t understand what I went through, it’s nice to have someone to just hold me when I cry. I believe that people are only given obstacles that they are able to handle. No matter how hard they may be. As much as I hate what happened, I’m grateful to be where I am now. I unfortunately matured at a young age, which is never that great, but it’s cool because people older than me, tend to respect me a lot more than others I know.

nebule's avatar

yes yes yes…my mum and dad had three girls, I’m the youngest. The middle sister is the most favoured despite what mum and dad say and they are lovely people! but blinded to this notion. The eldest is least favoured generally but I can be at times…it depends on what we’re currently doing that goes against their belief systems… i think anyway…

jamielynn2328's avatar

My mother definitely plays favorites, and since I am the middle child, I always felt like she didn’t really like me much. I was kicked out of the house at 18 and kicked out of my families life. My little sister did some of the same teenage antics that I did and never got grounded, definitely not kicked out. It has affected me to this day. I have two children and they are sooo different. But even though at times I feel more bonded to one than the other, I make sure that I never show any favoritism. It creates a lasting bruise on a child’s heart.

chelseababyy's avatar

@ru2bz46 See, I look back now, and while it still makes me cringe, it also kind of makes me laugh. He’s 18 now and does not know the value of a dollar. I went in June to visit for his graduation and he still has my mom’s credit card with him where ever he goes. He thinks he’s just going to move out and get an apartment and all this other stuff, without even having a job first. The funny thing is he talks all about moving out of my mom’s house, but he graduated over a month ago and he’s still there. I’m sure if he really wanted to leave he would. But for him it’s more of a comfort zone. He knows at Mom’s he’ll have a roof over his head, money to buy whatever, food, etc, etc. He whines about how my mom doesn’t let him do whatever he wants, which is BS because when I was there I saw it, and even when I’m not he’s always saying how he’s going down the shore with his friends for a weekend, or going here to do this or that. It’s funny how he thinks he has it so bad, but when I ask him “Well how do you think it was for me, you get 100X more than I do”, he’s like “YEAH BUT….” there’s no buts. There’s no comparing what you are supposedly going through with what I went through.

ru2bz46's avatar

@chelseababyy It sounds like you are learning from your experience, which is the best thing you can do for yourself. Take these lessons with you and don’t repeat the mistakes your mother made. :-)

maryleedy's avatar

I’m thinking back when I had each of my children. I went through a phase for a little while where each of them was my favorite right after they were born. I’ve never told them who was my favorite and I don’t show it, although recently my daughter seems to think my youngest son is my favorite.

I sat down with her (she’s 9) and told that he’s not my favorite over her or her other brother. I gave the same amount of attention to her as I give my youngest when she was his age which of course she doesn’t remember much about being 5. She likes her independence, give & receive hugs, and anything to do with fun and be praised a lot. My middle son likes to do things by himself or just one on one but gets very emotional and needs loving attention to get him through a situation. My youngest is a whip! LOL He’s very quick to understand what I say, likes hugs and closeness, and aims to please me. I love all these traits about them becuase it makes them unique and I’ve told each one of them that. It’s not about being better or bigger. I respond and choose my actions/reactions according to who they are so they can learn in their own way.

Now, everyone else in my family and friends think My youngest is my favorite because we’re always together, well he is because he’s not in school full time yet. lol Although I do have to say, I do feel an inner connection with him that is different than the connection I feel for the other two. It’s not a “favorite” type connection, it’s more of a “kinship knowing” of some sort (past life or something?). Like we’re in-tuned to each other. I told my husband that as well becuase he took as favoritsm and was not too happy with that. He was wrong, that’s all.

chelseababyy's avatar

@maryleedy :D I see no problems with that, and I’m sure every parent goes through that, especially with children that are different. My aunt has three kids. The oldest, Spencer (6) is very smart, and a bit ADHD not that that is a problem. He loves to be alone, to sit in his room and read or watch discovery channel movies on airplanes, jets, etc. The middle child is Sydney and she’s 5. She’s SUCH a little princess. Always wants the attention, and is super loud. She’s the firecracker in the family. And Sawyer is 3. He’s the SWEETEST most loving little boy you’ll ever meet.
She loves all her kids the same, but of course there sometimes is favoritism. And by favoritism I mean doing special things with each kid 1 on 1. Like taking one to an airplane museum, or taking one to dance classes etc.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Of course then you have the kind of favoritism my mom had. Which was extreme/wrong.

maryleedy's avatar

Yes, that’s what I was trying to say, lol, doing special things with each one according to personality. Thank you Chelsea. :-)

chelseababyy's avatar

@maryleedy You’re welcome. And actually I think that’s good. Each kid needs their own special time with Mom. Nothin’ wrong with that :]

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I have four kids, and every time someone asks this question, it reminds me of a story I heard once. The story goes that a couple with many children were starving to death. A childless neighbor offered them a million dollars if they would give them one of their children. One by one they went to each child’s bedroom and tried to decide which one to give up. Not this one, she’s so pretty. Not that one, he’s so helpful, and even down to the rottenest kid they had – it couldn’t be him because who else would love him.

Morale of the story – we all love our kids the same, but different.

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