We grew up with the saying ‘No parents have favorites amongst their kids, and they love them all equally’. This is a myth parents have managed to uphold for years, because one can imagine how shocking it would be for a child to be told they were procreated just for the purpose of making up the number of the intended kids in the family.
Reality is, as kids, a lot of us felt and knew when our parents had favorites’. We knew when we could get anything we wanted and get away with any trouble, and we also knew when our siblings got these privileges. For some families, the favoritism is a phase for each child and everyone experiences this special attention from their parents, while for some families, the reverse is the case. A particular child is specially favored by their parents all through, for reasons unknown to the other siblings. Some kids learn to deal with not being the favorite of their parents and get on with their lives, while some, stubbornly kick against the favoritism of their siblings through various means which includes, but not limited to acting out attitudinal issues, being delinquents, being moody, etc.
Favoritism in kids is borne out of the desires of some parents to have a child they regard as the perfect child. This desire for the ‘perfect child’ might be down sometimes to the parent’s emotional needs, fantasies, or unfulfilled desires. They believe the vacuum created by their needs will be filled by this ‘perfect child or favorite child’ of theirs’. What they fail to realize is, having a favorite amongst their kids, even though tempting for some people, ends up doing more harm than good for the child and the other siblings.
For starters, one of the key issues favoritism causes especially for the ‘favorite child’ is the creation of an imaginary world. The favorite child is often loaded with love and provided with everything they want (as long as the parents can afford the desire of the child). The parents protect them from having to face disappointments while growing up and this leaves the child psychologically disadvantaged to deal with life’s reality of ups and downs. The favorite child often struggle to cope with disappointments due to this.
Another issue the favorite child has to deal with is having to re-build their attitude to people. Their emotional intelligence is usually lower than an average person and thus, they can be very selfish or be perceived as rude. This behavioral flaw becomes a part of their personality and they have to consciously strive to improve on it.
The favorite child also learns quickly their parents’ fondness for them and they always try to live up to the expectation of their parents so as to keep maintaining this fondness. This ends up having them suppress their personality and desires, and prioritize whatever will make their parents happy at all times.
The issues of favoritism aren’t just faced by the favorite child alone, but also by their siblings. For the siblings of the favorite child, one of the profound issues they face is low self-esteem. This arises from watching their sibling get all the love and attention from their parents. Their brain is subconsciously reinforced that they need to beg for love and attention from people. For majority of people in this category, this psychological damage could take a whole lifetime to undo.
When they fail to get their parents’ attention, these kids are filled with a desperation to prove themselves and be noticed. They believe being noticed will get them the desired attention and love they seek. At a young age, this thirst for attention is sometimes reflected in the kids being delinquent and always getting in to trouble.
Another notable fallout of favoritism is; it builds resentment in the family. The other siblings gradually build a form of resentment for the favorite child and the parents. Some of the siblings outgrow the resentment as they go into the world, while for some, this resentment turns into a full blown enmity and malice within the family.
No matter how tempting or what parents might be going through, they must endeavor to avoid having a favorite amongst their kids. They should ensure every child receives the same level of attention and doting needed for every phase of the child’s development. Having just one favorite and neglecting the siblings never ends well for the family on the long run, no matter how hard they try to hide it.