I just came upon this article and found it interesting, yet a little upsetting to hear that many parents have favorite children. All of you mothers out there with two or more children, do you have a favorite child? I just can't imagine favoring one over another, but I don't have children, yet. Would love to get the hive's opinions on this interesting article.
I don't have children yet but I think the languge "favorite child" is misleading. I'm sure that parents love each of their kids equally but different since they're different people. There is no one size fits all approach to parenting, even within the same family. As children grow up, each parent might connect more with one child than another based on personality traits/interests, but a shared interest or bond with one child does not mean that the parent would love their other child any less, or that they wouldn't have a different but equally special bond with their other child over somehting different.
ETA: I haven't read the article so I don't know what it says :) I'll check it out after work though!
I have always felt that my mom had a favorite of her four children. It is the #1 reason my sister and I do not get along nor was she involved in my wedding. And I have known that since I was probably 9 or 10.
Wow, after actually reading the article, I agree. I am the only child so far to go to college and get a degree and have a full-time job (oldest of four). I have also struggled with feeling worthy - knowing that no matter what, anything my sister does will always be 'better'. My brothers plan to take over our farm so their future has always been somewhat 'set'. Which means my sister and I were the ones that would be 'leaving the nest'.
She turned 19 in May, has no plans for any type of schooling or future and spends her days texting, shopping, and going out with friends. She is absolutely in no way prepared for real life and it's precisely because my mom has always coddled and provided for her. The maturity difference between us is so obvious - at 19 I was going to be a junior in college and had completed my first internship with a leading company in my chosen field.
If you can't tell :) It's caused huge bitterness toward her - knowing that no matter what she will always be favored and provided for. Hell, two days before my wedding, my mom was more concerned over helping my sister get the perfect tan lines for her dress over helping me with last-minute things.
Edit: I should add that it's probably not quite as much favoritism as it is that my mom sees my sister as being the child most like herself.
I don't have children either but I have a niece and a nephew and love them both equally. I am very close to my sister and therefore to her children as well and would do anything for either one.
I have no doubt that there are some parents that have a favorite. My mom has told me on several occasions that parents always have a favorite and that I'm not hers, that's probably why we don't have a very good relationship. I think there is a possibility it might be a cultural thing. My mom is Japanese and in many asian households the oldest boy is the favored child, that's how it worked in her family and that's how it works in our family. Growing up alot of asian friends I had had similar family dynamics.
I've actually talked to my mom about this and she openly admits that I'm the "favorite" because she has more in common with me. That absolutely does not mean I ever felt more loved than my brother. If anything she overcompensated by giving him more attention because she felt guilty.
I don't think there's anything wrong with preferring one of your children, one of them is naturally going to be more likeable/well-behaved. I think it becomes a problem when there is obvious favoritism all the time for no reason.
My mom clearly has a favorite and its my sister! She could always get away with anything whereas I couldnt. And I'm the youngest so everyone thinks I would be the favorite but thats not the case. I;m very independent and dont show my feelings, whereas my sister wears her heart on her sleeve and constantly needs someone to hold her hand through everything. I think she made my mom feel useful and needed.
@bells: I;m very independent and dont show my feelings,whereas my sister wears her heart on her sleeve and constantly needs someone to hold her hand through everything. I think she made my mom feel useful and needed
Were we switched at birth? And we are actually sisters and our sisters are actually sisters to each other? I never thought of it that way before but it makes sense - I tended to pull away from my mom (in part because of the favoritism) and my sister went crying to her about everything. She made her feel useful and needed whereas I'm sure I didn't. Huh.
From what I've seen, I think most mothers have a favorite, but it switches around to whoever is being the most pleasant. I don't think it's always the same child, but different children at different phases of life. I know my own mom (of 5 children) couldn't stand whoever was 13-14 years old; aka when everyone seems to want to start testing her patience.
Now my MIL's favorite has always been thought to be my husband, though (of 3). I can't say I have seen it, but they all think it. In that case, I think it might have a lot to do with her having a very scary delivery with him, and him almost not making it. I think it would be very traumatizing to almost lose your firstborn and maybe it has made her favor him a tiny bit over the years. At least according to the others.
I have two boys and I can't say that I favor one over the other. My younger one and I connect on a more emotional level and he's easier to talk to. And we tend to like the same movies, books, t.v. shows etc. so we gab endlessly and easily.
My older son has Asperger's and it's harder to communicate with him because he tends to be more interested in things than people. But he is so sweet-natured and good, it almost breaks my heart. So I'm maybe more protective of him-making sure strangers don't take advantage.
Otherwise I love what is unique about both of them and beyond the personality differences, they have been treated fairly equally their whole lives (i.e. if one got a trip to Europe, so did the other, etc.)
Unlike me and my sister. We're the red-headed step-children living in the garrett. And my brother is the king of the castle. Sucks.
Such interesting thoughts and perspectives. I understand the concept of being the younger, middle or oldest child, but how is it that the oldest is more likely to have a higher IQ and be physically larger? Can anybody explain that? Aren't you born with your IQ? Why would the first child be more likely to be more intelligent? And physically larger? I found that part interesting.
I guess I can see why a mother would have a favorite if she has more in common with that child or the child is better behaved, etc. I guess it just upsets me to think parents would show favoritism. I hope one day (if I am able to have two children) to treat both equally, not matter how hard it may be. :)
@hisgoosiegirl: Your story about your sister and mom is so sad. :( But, as you said, she has no plans for her future, isn't ambitious/driven and look at you! Good for you!
I am not worried aobut favoritism with me, but with my mother. She calls my oldest her baby and would cheerfully take him if I ever decided to give him up. I am honestly worried aout the new little guy. She keeps saying she is not going ot get as involved with him and by the time he is older she will be retired in FL. I am hoping that some of this is not true, but she would be one of those people.
If my parents have a favorite, I sure hope it's me. I'm an only child.
My mom did an absolutely amazing job of not playing favorites with four kids. Both she and my dad grew up in households with obvious favorite children (my dad was the favorite, my mom was not) and she made it a personal goal to keep things as even as possible. A while back I mentioned how nice it was that she didn't pick favorites and she said that she "tried really, really hard" to make sure everyone felt like an equal in her eyes. She is my role model for the future. : )
@Jenn23: I can see an oldest child being larger and smarter due to more attention and thus more nurturing. As more children come along time and resources must be split.
I really enjoyed the article! As the youngest of four, with the even more interesting variable of two of us being adopted (my brother and oldest sister), we've talked a lot about birth order and parenting. I know beyond a doubt that my mother favors her first-born, the third child. This has much more to do with the life choices my sister has made and how my mother respects her lifestyle and less to do with just being born first, IMO. She was also quite pretty as a child and was careful not to do anything that embarrased my mom, who really saw us as a reflection of herself.
I'm not jealous of the favoritism, and I'd say that maybe it's even a burden for my sister, who can't let her down. It's a big responsibility to have that expectation. I, on the other hand, being known as the free-spirit (which falls in line w/ the article's casting of the youngest), have the freedom to try and fail and try something else. I think my mom admires that freedom.
A bit a further, I think that who a child resembles and what that elicits in the parent, can influence how that parent reacts to the child. I look a lot like my dad, so my mom has a soft-spot, because she associates me with the charm she felt from him. It gets me out of trouble quite often. My sister, on the other hand, looks like my mom's side of the family for the most part and that adds to the unspoken expectation that she will be successful and practical. To go deeper, I have some personality traits that are the same as ones my mother dislikes in herself, and so she can't handle seeing them in me. I took that personally until I became an adult, not understanding why she reacted so strongly.
It's all so interesting. My oldest sister has some health issues and is kind of free from the roles... but the next sister carries traits of the first-born, oldest and middle child. I fall right into the youngest role. My mom favors her first-born. I wonder, though, had I led a life she could identify more with, would the relationships be more balanced? My father and I were very close and had a lot more common interests and personality traits, so who's to say. Did the birth order make the personality, which made the relationship. Or would the personality have been the same regardless?
We always joke: My sister says my parents had her and said, "Look how great we did! Let's do this again." And I say they had her and said, "We can do so much better than this!"
I can't imagine life w/o them, no matter who got favored for what.
@Jenn23: Thanks - I think the worst is that my mom truly feels she has always treated us equally even when it's not true.
As far as intelligence/size - I'm definitely the shortest (if that's what size they were referring to) and I would say the smartest - although whether that's due to being the oldest of 4 homeschooled children and often having to figure it out myself while mom worked with the younger ones, being more driven (knowing my future wasn't 'planned') or birth order is hard to say.
And I think if you are aware of not wanting to have a favorite child, that makes a huge difference. Obviously due to my own experience I never, ever, want to feel that I favor one child. Although I do think it's fine to love them differently. We had a dairy farm and I always had my favorite handful of cows (sorry for comparing cows to children here but same concept). I remember one day thinking what would I do if I had to pick just one? And I couldn't do it. I loved the stubborness and vitality of one, the sweetness and gentleness of another. So it wasn't that I loved one more than the other - I just loved didfferent characteristics about each one.
I think a lot of parents favor a child but many go about it the wrong way. My SO has a younger sister who got to do things he didn't. They bought her her first car and made him pay for his. Stuff like that. But I think a lot of it has to do with circumstance. I know my mom's "favorite" is my younger brother. But he was 2 months premature and she spent 5 weeks in the hospital with him. They bonded on a whole other level. But she never "played" favorites. They just have a different emotional connection.
While I have yet to see my daughter's true personality, she's only 4 months old, I do have a feeling that my son and I will always have that special connection. He was my first and while he is only 3, we get each other. Haha. But because they are different genders, I'm sure I'll have different, special connections with each if that makes sense.
Yes, I believe so. My parents did a good job not playing favourites, but over the years I've somewhat figured out the dynamic. I won't get into it here, but I'm the oldest of 4 and that plays a part. My FMIL has a blantantly obvious favourite and apparently has since my FI's childhood. My FI is the oldest of 3 and FMIL has always favoured his middle sister and really made no secret about it. I can see sometimes how it affected the other two.
@sunshine_kar: I kind of wanted to address the car thing, because that's something that I've been bitter about for a long time. I had to work for my first car, hard. After saving for months, I was short $100 on the first one I tried to buy (my teenage dream car) and the seller wouldn't budge. My parents refused to lend me the money and a few days later when I got my paycheck, it had already been sold. My sister, on the other hand, was handed the keys to my dad's (used) Volvo S80 in like new condition. She ended up wrecking it and was given my mom's minivan. She wrecked that too and now has my grandmother's old car. She hasn't paid a dime for any of them, she doesn't even pay for oil changes.
Yes, I was upset by it. Yes, it hurt and felt like favouritism. I've come to realize though, there are two factors that come into play here. First, I'm the oldest. I'm the guinea pig, if you will. My parents never had gone through a kid reaching driving age before and really had no idea what to do. Secondly, my parents think more highly of me than they do my sister. They will never come out and say it, but they've always expected more from me in academics, sports and life in general. It might not be the nicest thing, but I don't think they have confidence in my sister to succeed without help.
I have no idea how your SO's family dynamic works, but take things like that into consideration. It does really help to give perspective and ease some of the sting.
Edit: I guess I did get into it a bit, heh.
Well, I don't know how I feel about this. My dad and I got along much better when I was little because I did the things he enjoyed, we fished, I watched him in his woodshop, I played sports, I am a science nerd and a nurse (which we are both currently going to school for!); he still introduces me as "his baby" which is a running joke from him being 35, a foot taller than his father and still being called "his baby".
But my big sister is always the one who talks sci fi/fantasy novels with him, that kind of thing.Mom and I have gotten much closer since I grew up some, she and my sister always fought but I don't think I would say one or the other is the "favorite" persay. We are different. Though there is a running joke that my dad (the first son-in-law) is my grandparents favorite over their own children. :) Of course now my BIL and Fi are the favs because they are the grandbabies love's.
But from stories growing up, both sets of my grandparents had "favorite" children who happend to be both my parents. And it is/was somewhat apparent with our grandparents. I am my Papaw's favorite (and only) son's baby girl, I was the favorite. :)
I think it all depends on the parent's personality, some try very hard to not have favorites and some don't care if all their kids know the other is favorite.
My mother VERY clearly favors my brother. And everyone in my family agrees (although my mom denies it!). It's not that she loves him more.. he just can do no wrong in her eyes. There is just something about mothers and sons. But honestly, even though it's not as blatant, I know that my father favors me. Both of my parents love both of us kids more than anything in the world, and we know that they would do anything for us. But I'm just much more like my dad and my brother is much more like my mom so that's the basis of the special bonds. Even now as an adult.. I talk to my dad on the phone EVERY.DAY. I talk to my mom probably twice a week.
My mother has a clear favorite and it's my younger sister.
We all (3 sisters) have different fathers. My older sisters father left early on so when my mom met my dad he took over my older sister so to speak. Well, then my mom and my dad got divorced and she remarried my stepdad and had my younger sister with him.
She has and will for ever be the child that does no wrong. She will have excuses made for her until the day my mother passes on. It is how my grandmother was with my mom and my mom is with my sister.
I know I am loved and my older sister knows she is loved but we know for a fact that our mother favors our little sister. It's been that way since we were small. Hell I can remember clear as day my mother yelling to us " go play with the baby" it was constant...whatever my little sister wanted she got.
To this day my mom will watch my sisters child without hesitation or questions on when will you be back or any of that but if I ask for her to watch my children it's the third degree and when will I be picking them up and so on.
My relationship with my younger sister suffered because of this and because I felt she never was made to be an adult. She is now married however and as a child and has grown up a lot. We are getting a long a lot better the older she gets. But, I will forever know that I will not be as good as her in my mothers eyes whether she will ever openly admit it or not.
reminds me of this
and mom and dad were both treated terribly by their parents while their sibilings were treated like gold, so i know they always tried to keep us all even. i know it was so important to my mom to keep things as even as possible, even down to making sure we all have even number of christmas presents.
personally i think my brother is the favorite. he got away with everything and that could have been because he was the only boy and the youngest. even as an adult he's still a little more favored then my sister and i. we are all very different so we dont always get along and i know that's hard on my mom and dad. but as a perk i get to spend the most time with them cause i live the closest so i know that my sister and brother probably think i'm the favorite. who knows. but i know when i have kids it will be so important to try to keep things fair between everyone and not favor anyone.
@LGenz: Ha haa! I think when my toddler gets older I'm going to create a list just to see them fight over who gets to rub my feet! My ten year old clearly see the value in this already as he asked if my feet hurt and proceeded to melt my heart by rubbing them... half-way through, he asked how much was it worth to me for him to continue! Yes, he got paid $5.00 for 15 min. Not a bad first hourly wage!
I never felt bad knowing my mom favored my sister... I had no interest in any of the things she was doing and my mom didn't make us feel like she favored the core of who we were. She loved us all; she just liked the choices my sister made. My dad was busy cheering me on, so it was balanced.
My 10 year old drives me batty but I adore him and the baby is still "aww, the baby!"... I wonder how it will all play out in the near future.
It's so funny becuase I JUST read a similar article last night in Time magazine. The article isn't available on their website, but it's the Octobober 3rd issue, so it might still be out in stores. Anyway, I think the Time magazine article gives a much better explanation of how "favortism" is mainly a biological reaction. Basically, like our animal friends, we're wired to produce offspring that will carry on our genes. Unconsciously, we recognize the child that is most likely to succeed, and we give them extra nuturing to ensure they are able to procreate and spread our genes later in life. The Time article also talks more in depth about how children (both the favored and the unfavored) are affected by our parents' behavior.
As a parent, it seriously breaks my heart to think that I may have a favorite and unitentionally make my other child(ren) feel less loved. I want all of my children to feel loved and appreciated; I want all of them to feel like the favorite in the family. I think every mother worries, when she is pregnant with the second and subsequent children, whether she will love this new baby as much as she does her older child(ren). It's heartbreaking to hear that, not only is it really common (the Time article cited a study that estimated 70% of parents show favortism), but that you, as a parent, might not even recognize your unconscious favortism.
This is really interesting. I am the middle child, have an older brother and younger sister. My sister is the baby, so anyone with a younger sibling knows that they are favored. Still kinda pisses me off, but now that my sister is finally growing up, I let a lot of it go. I am exactly like my mom, so we get along to a point. I don't believe my dad has a favorite, since we all have different interests that play into his (my brother - fishing, me - serial killer/true crime stuff, my sister - music) so he always spent quality time differently with us. But, he always had a softer spot in his heart for me because I was not supposed to survive. I was 5 weeks premature, and itty bitty, but otherwise pretty healthy. But, the doctors advised my parents to do as much as they could within the first year, because they didn't expect me to survive til my birthday. Nice, huh? So, my dad spent a lot of bonding time with me, moreso that my other siblings, because he thought he would lose me. Of course, I have had a host of health issues growing up, and still do, and some can be attributed to premature birth, but I can't complain, because I'm here.
My husband has an older sister, and if you ask her, he was their mom's favorite. If you ask my husband, he doesn't think she treated either of them differently. My thought is that she had to do more than him, because in their mom's mind, she had to learn to be a good wife, and he just got to be a boy who would have a wife to take care of him (ha, he got the crappy end of that deal!). I don't think my FIL had a favorite, his whole life has been about cars, and my SIL raced as well as my husband, and neither of them remember feeling like one of them was favored by their dad.
My parents have favorites- there's three of us. I'm the oldest, I have a middle sister, and my brother is youngest. My mom likes my brother the most, although I don't think it's because they have anything in common. He's passing on the family name, there was a lot of pressure for her to have a boy. Plus, he's her little boy. He just moved across the country and in with my husband and I- we've had a few issues (he expects me to pick up where she left off) and when venting to my mom he can do absolutely no wrong.
My dad tends to prefer me, but I think he enjoys us all in our own way. We have the most in common- similar personalities, similar likes, etc..
@Aure: I totally understand that. But his father straight up told him he wasn't responsible enough to make payments on a $4000 truck but they just financed an $8000 for his sister. She works on Sundays, and makes about $200 a month. He also worked in high school making about a grand a month, working weekends and after practice. I guess that's what gets me. I totally understand that you learn things from your first children, but with his father, its obvious favoritism.
yeah me lol joking how can you pick they are all a part of you they may act certain way towards all children differently but because each child has different personality no mother will love one child more they are all her angels and she has same room for all of them in there heart my parents always made us all feel special in different ways.
I always had a feeling my mother favored me over my sister. Not that she doesn't love both of us, but I just always got the impression if she was FORCED to choose, she'd choose me. That being said, I also always thought my dad felt that way about my sister, so I didn't really see any reason to feel bad. I just felt like my mom preferred me, my dad preferred her, so at least we were each preferred by one or the other.
I will admit that part of my reasoning for not having a second child is I didn't know which would be worse: loving the second child more than my daughter... or NOT loving the second child more than my daughter. I know I know, they're all equal, but as a mother, I can see how you might "relate" and just naturally gravitate toward one of your children more than the other(s).
I have two kids. I don't have a favorite, overall. Depending on who is behaving better, I might consider that child my favorite at that time. My teenage daughter was moody for about 2 years. Ugh! My son was my favorite during that time. Now, he's "finding himself" and my daughter is out of her moody stage. If I had to pick today, she would be my favorite. Next week, heck tomorrow, that could all change.
I think I was my mom's favorite. She never told me that, but she and I were closer than she and my other siblings. It's just my suspicion though.
I think what you may feel as a child growing up will change as you get older and can recognize the circumstances of how things changed because of your birth order. Of course the first is always the 'practice child', as there's really no manual on exactly the right and wrong way to do things when raising children. This site is a perfect example of that. People ask just about every day how to do things from breastfeeding to swaddling, and there'as a million different answers. When you become a parent, you take parts of what you remember from how you were raised, listen to what lots of random people tell you, call your Mom and best friend a lot, and talk to your neighbors~is there any wonder no one person could write something that would encompass everyone's questions and have any one perfect way to do anything?
With the oldest, that's where the most mistakes are made, and also when all the ground rules are set. If it works, great. If not, and more kids are born, you try something else and hope for the best. The entire dynamic of a family changes once more people are added, as each needs to fit into a pretty complex puzzle. Personalities will play a major role in everything, and of course it's easier to be around a happy and pleasant child than it is a temper tantrum throwing miserable one. My youngest was a brat, but it doesn't mean I loved her any less.
The oldest in my family was my brother, and my Mom always acted like he could walk on water. My 10 year old brain recognized that, but my 20 year old brain resented it. Now it means nothing, but I still remember how it used to feel.
The youngest is my one sister, who was and is still a brat! She was a whiney, fresh, throw herself all over the house kind of kid who I thought got away with murder, because and someone else has mentioned, she was born prematurely and was pretty sick for the first 6 months of her life. Was that why they treated her differently or was it just because she was the last one?
What we see and feel as kids isn't necessarily what really IS. Lots of us went through having to work to buy our own cars,especially if we were close to the oldest (I was #2), but the next 2 got them from my brother and my parents. We were working already, so my parents had more money to spend on the younger ones. That wasn't hard to figure out, but we didn't like it. That was a perk of being at the bottom of the birth order....your parents suddenly have more disposable income.
Being a parent is tough.
@ItWasntMe: "Being a parent is tough."
Ditto. Also, I think my sympathy for my own parents increased a million times the moment I had my daughter. It's impossible to be a perfect parent, and even great parents make mistakes.
A close friend of mine in high school, and then college roommate, always told me how her brother and sister were favored over her. (She was the middle child.) But her older sister had to join the Air Force to pay for college, and my friend's parents told my friend that as long as she kept her scholarship (in Georgia, you get a free ride if you maintain a 3.0 GPA) they would pay for her rent, books, living money, etc. She didn't even have to have a part-time job while we were in college to help pay for anything. She also got a car in high school which her older sister did NOT get, and when her brother got one, it was an older car, not from a car lot like my friend's was. Her older sister ended up staying in the Air Force and never going to college after the minimum service was met, and the brother lived at home and went to a community college. I never understood how she could view herself as being treated the "worst" out of the three, yet be handed so much that the other two weren't.
@ItWasntMe: Just commenting on something you mentioned, not addressing it entirely...
I keep reading about how the oldest (or older) kids in the family had to work for things, but the youngest was handed everything... that is not how it was for me at all! I'm over here laughing as I read; it just seems so odd. My sister was given everything, from her first car to her college education, and I (the youngest) had to pay for everything on my own. I would have called her spoiled, but she was such a good kid (and teenager), I think she earned them in her own way. It wasn't cool driving a beat-up orange Ford Tempo while she had a gorgeous new Mustang... lol, I guess my parents would have paved the way for me to stay on the straight and narrow too!
(Doesn't have much to do w/ birth order, sorry...)
@jjmomma: I think that it's the rule and that your family was probably more of the exception. In my experience and in experiences of my close friends, it seems like smyley is (in general) right on.
Thanks for sharing all of your stories! Very interesting to read about everyone's experiences. I forgot to mention earlier that I was an only child. (have a half-sister, but she was raised in a different house with our father and my step-mother) So I never had the sibling rivalry, bickering, competition...it's all Greek to me!
@Mrs. Spring: "As a parent, it seriously breaks my heart to think that I may have a favorite and unitentionally make my other child(ren) feel less loved."
I don't even have children and feel the same way! The article you mentioned in Time sounds great. I'll look for it.
@jjmomma: HaHa...well, in your case, and since they bought her a car and paid for college, they were OUT of money when you came along!
In my world, my Dad thought it was 'stupid' for women to go to college 'just to get a husband'...and he really believed that! My brother went on a full scholarship/appointment to the Naval Academy, so it seemed that his life was the only one that mattered. I went on my own, with no help or encouragement.
All that was expected of the rest of us (3 girls) was that we got a job and found a man, I guess. He IS almost 90 now, so it explains a lot, and he's even apologized to me about being so blind about it.
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