Offspring favouritism – the final taboo?

posted 3 years ago in Parenting
  • poll: What are your experiences with offspring favouritism?
    I'm a parent - I do not love one child more : (2 votes)
    2 %
    I'm a parent - I do love one child more and it shows : (1 votes)
    1 %
    I'm a parent - I love one child more but never, ever show it : (4 votes)
    4 %
    I am one of several siblings and have never experienced this : (11 votes)
    11 %
    I am one of several siblings and have experienced this regularly : (31 votes)
    30 %
    I am one of several siblings and have suspected my parent/s have a fav but they've never shown it : (19 votes)
    19 %
    Possible reason for favouritism - special bond with one child : (25 votes)
    25 %
    Possible reason for favouritism - adoption vs biological offpsring : (4 votes)
    4 %
    Possible reason for favouritism - stronger feelings for that child's mother/father : (5 votes)
    5 %
  • Post # 3
    2878 posts
    Sugar bee

    I think it is a taboo, but it’s real anyway. Parents will most likely have a ”favorite”, simply because they might share more affinities with one child vs. the other(s). It doesn’t mean they don’t love them, but just as much as I love all my friends, I will have more in common with one and will most likely call this one more often. We’re all humans, children have their own personality and yes, it happens that is just doesn’t click with a mother’s own child. Which is the ultimate taboo, but it does exist. 

    I believe my sister was the favourite. She had a lot more permissions, at younger age, than I did. My parents were much more tolerent to her moodiness, not me. My father spent a lot of time with my sister because she likes fishing and she likes Nascar just like he does, while I don’t. Younger I used to feel jealous, I wished he would have given me as much attention. But I understand now, that it has nothing to do with love, just affinities. He loves me, but we just are not interested in the same things. 

    Post # 4
    4072 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: January 2014

    I don’t have children of my own, so I cannot comment on that. However, I do have siblings.

    My dad has two sons from a previous marriage, then my brother and I. I know I am the favorite. I think it is largely due to me being the only girl, so we have a special father-daughter bond. He also had me much later in life when he was able to spend a ton of time with me. He worked from home much of my childhood, so he was always around. Therefore we were just able to bond much more than he could with the other three. I also did better in school than my brothers, and I never really got in trouble. He definitely has expressed much more pride in me than my siblings.

    With my mother, it’s not as obvious. She only has two children. She definitely has a different bond with my brother and I, but not necessarily a favorite.

    Post # 5
    405 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: December 1969

    I couldn’t really vote as my experience is not with my parents but I’ll contribute 🙂 

    My parents didn’t have a favorite between my brother and I, not that we could tell anyway. My parents divorced when we were very young, my mother worked, and we only saw our father every other weekend. Any time spent with them was always quality! They both loved us equally.

    However, OTHER relatives difinitely had favorites between us. My maternal grandmother VERY obviously favored my brother. It was just painfully obvious. He got anything and everything he wanted, she would lay him up in bed and do anything he asked or demanded… it made him an absolute brat and nightmare during childhood! It created a lot of resentment between all of us(I have a cousin who also dealt with this from them) One of my mother’s sisters favored me, but she was so much more gracious about it. And I think it was more that we had a very close bond than favortism, she loved my brother and my cousin just as much! We were just closer. She’d been a second mom to me since I was born, as she couldn’t have children, so we had a very close relationship, and still do! 

    Post # 6
    2315 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: August 2013

    My parents have always treated me and my sisters the same and fairly and for that, I am so grateful. 


    However, I do know of situations where it has happened (not that I’ve witnessed but I’ve been told about) – my nan had a favourite…third born child, first born son. I think she left nearly everything to him in her will. Her mother also had a favourite child, who was not my nan…but it was clearly behaviour that she learnt and thought was acceptable. 


    Someone I work with has about 6 brothers and sisters and she definitely is NOT the favourite, but she doesn’t care!




    And sadly, even though it would never be said I think there is slight favouritism with my fiancé’s sister over my fiancé. 



    I never think it is right or correct. 


    ETA: I agree with PPs that sometimes it may be because of a bond/affinity towards a particular child. I mentioned previously that I’ve never experienced it personally but I do know my mum has a stronger bond with my eldest sister, but she did have her at 19 so they are close in age. My mum would never say out loud that she preferred her company because I know she enjoys spending time with me and our other sister too. 

    I think if you do favour a child, even accidentally, you should never admit it or show it. 


    Post # 7
    480 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: September 2013

    My sister was very difficult when she was younger, consiquently I was certainly the favourite.  Not so much with my parents who loved her as much as me but, well I don’t want to go into detail on here, but walking on egg shells was basically the life in the family home due to her.  I am definatley my Mum’s favourite, but they would try and hide it.  The entended family however made no show of trying to hide how much they disliked my sister.


    Fast forward several years and she’s much better now, with me and my parents all is forgiven, the entended family however still don’t like her much.

    Post # 8
    2151 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: July 2015

    My SO experiences to some degree, only he is the ‘favourite’. Then again he is the ‘good’ brother of the 3. Does everything he’s asked, cleans the house, cleans up after his other two brothers, has a relaxed personality compared to the other brothers’ argumentative personalities, etc. I would say their parents love them equally, but my SO definitely gets more ‘freedom’ and ‘rewards’ than the other two, and it sometimes causes problems or hard feelings between the brothers. 


    Post # 9
    2893 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2012

    my dad always favored my brothers more. my dad grew up with lots of brothers and it was the job of his mom and sisters to take care of the boys (cook for them, clean them, etc.) so when he had a daughter it was like he didn’t know what to do, so he just stuck with what he did know and he focused more on my brothers.

    my brothers insist that i am/was the favorite child, but i don’t see it that way. since i felt like i could never go to my dad with anything and i don’t have sisters, i went to my mom for everything so we were/are very close, but she did not have favorites. and a mother/son relationship is different than a mother/daughter relationship. i talked to my mom about everything- boys, makeup, clothes, my period. my brothers didn’t want to share much with my mom, so they don’t have the same bond

    my younger brother got away with a lot more crap than my older brother and i ever did, so i don’t know how he can think i was the favorite. by the time he hit his teens, punishments did not exist in his world. it was annoying.

    Post # 10
    6407 posts
    Bee Keeper

    Another possible reason for favortism is actually almost the opposite of the “favorite is better” idea. The favorite may be preferred because they are less independently successful and more dependent on the parent (this could be seen as a “special bond,” I suppose, but it’s more of a co-dependency than any kind of healthy bond).

    Obvious favortism divides families and harms favorites and non-favorites alike.

    Post # 11
    3557 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: August 2014

    I’m an only child, but my FI has a sister. The way his parents treat him and his sister is vastly different. FI feels a ton of pressure to be the ‘good’ child and has never gotten as much attention from his parents as his sister. His sister began acting out the moment she hit puberty and from then on all of the focus was on her. Her mental health issues were treated while FI’s depression (which he still struggles with to this day) was ignored. She was bought a new car every time she wrecked her car (I think she’s on her 7th car now), FI drove a car the same age as us. FI was actually kicked out of his home several times while under the age of 16 so his parents could deal with his sister. She got pregnant at 17 and married the baby’s father a few months later when she turned 18. FI and I got lectured and shunned for moving in together after graduating college at 22 because we were ‘living in sin’. FSIL and her husband who joined the army moved to North Carolina and it was a wonderful opportunity. FI moved to Minnesota to be with me and he was ‘abandoning his family’.

    There is a ridiculous double standard in the way they treat their two children. I’d say FSIL gets about 90% of the attention. FI feels like while his parents may like him more as a person they feel like he’s doing fine and constantly feel the need to fix his sister’s on-going trainwreck (her marriage is rocky and every other week ends in the threat of divorce). Their treatment of their children has lead to huge issues for FI that I’ve been spending years helping him work through. Last year his father actually apologized for the inequal treatment, I’m not sure if his mother realizes the unfairness yet.

    Post # 12
    2546 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: April 2013

    i’ve never experienced anything like that, i have one sister. i don’t think my parents have favorites, and if they do they hide it veryw ell.


    also, i suggest giving less options in the poll and letting people explain themselves here, cause with so many choices you’re not gonna get very trustworthy results.

    Post # 13
    3557 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: August 2014

    @joya_aspera:  This is exactly the case in my FI’s family.

    Post # 14
    1355 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2013 - Vine Street Church

    I don’t have children, so I can’t speak of favoritism from the POV of a parent, but I did experience favoritism in my relationships with my own parents.


    When I was growing up, we had two teams in my family: me and my dad, and my mom and my sister.  My dad and I have a lot more in common than my mom and I do, and my mom liked my sister because she’s prettier and thinner than me. My dad and I are very intellectual and speak forever on random historical topics, so we bore my mom. She likes me more now that I’m older and she sees that intelligence pays off, and she’s disappointed in my sister because of her relationship and life choices. She’s also become more fond of me since she had a brain tumor removed in February because I was her main caretaker during that time and she realized that even if she had been shitty to me my entire life, I would still take care of her. It’s been nice having a mom finally.

    Post # 15
    2247 posts
    Buzzing bee

    I have a younger sister and I’m pretty sure Mum prefers me over her.

    I have no idea whether she had a favourite as we were growing up, but now (she’s 19 and I’m 21) I’d say me, hands down.

    Over the years my sister’s grown up into this self-absorbed, ungrateful, demanding, snarky, brat who treats me like crap and mum like a walking cash machine who deserves no respect.


    I talk to mum more often than she does; I buy her gifts on birthdays, Mother’s day, Christmas; I show an interest in her life; I never ask for money etc. so I’d be very surprised if Mum preferred my sister over me.

    Post # 16
    1734 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: March 1998

    No kids here. My parents had 2 brothers each. My dad was the least favorite of my grandma; she doted on her two other sons, who were more charismatic and willing to tell the abusive witch whatever she wanted to hear. My dad was more aloof and (rightfully) kept his distance from her. I know that when we went to visit, she would throw slop on the table before us…I remember gagging when she put a plate of spaghetti in front of me once. With meatballs…that were half-raw. Meanwhile, a week later when my uncle went to visit (they lived several hours away), she took them out to a 4-star restaurant every night, doted on my cousin, etc. She always engrossed herself in books and ignored my brother and me when we visited.

    I think a lot of that was her resentment toward my dad…and of course her preference for her other sons.

    I have one sibling and my parents preferred him (he’s the elder child). They threw a lavish party when he graduated from high school and bragged about how he was going to college to everyone they knew (working class family here). “He’s so funny,” “He’s so smart.” I never heard the end of it growing up. Meanwhile, my mom bitched endlessly about any of my involvements, showed no interest in my schooling, complained and tried to get out of attending anything related to my talents/school events, etc.

    She tried to convince me out of going to college, telling me I needed to learn a trade and become a secretary instead. It could be colored by some of the other things she’s done over the years, but I still suspect that was an effort to hold me back and have something else to put me down about. I learned years later that she routinely called my brother to complain about what a bad, awful daughter I was (usually making things up – “She’s so messy/She makes no time for her family/etc.” I was going to school, working and interning at the time). She would call relatives and badmouth me openly…right in front of me!

    She never considered that with my brother. Even know she gloats about him and brags about him. I usually got comparisons to my dad’s mom – always unfavorably, of course, while I was growing up. I suspect they both ended up treating me like crap because I somewhat resemble my grandma (who also took the opportunity to crap on my mom over the years – treating her like little more than a servant).

    I think they also preferred him because of his personality. My mom is a narcissistic bully – a child who never grew up and expected the world to pander to her. My brother was always the mediator and he would gleefully keep his mouth shut and do whatever she asked. I’d often question her idiotic decisions, insults and demands of me, and that infuriated her. In retrospect, I don’t know why I ever bothered – I was always going to lose no matter what I did with her, but at least if I just went along with it quietly, I’d have gotten somewhere.

    I’m only having one kid. Two tops. I fully anticipate I probably will have stronger feelings toward one kid than the other. I will feel differently about each child and each relationship will be different – life is not fair. But the open hostility I experienced growing up is never going to happen.


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