Do You Have a Favourite Child?

August 22, 2013

American science writer Jeffrey Kluger published a book called,'The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us'. In it he wrote: ‘It is my belief that 95 per cent of the parents in the world have a favourite child, and the other five per cent are lying.'

I do not agree with this and hope that I am right!

Having said this I do have a couple of guilty secrets. The only baby book filled and brimming with facts and pictures is that of my first born. Secondly, and it is good to get these admissions out there, each successive child has less family and individual picture albums. There, I have said it. But these discrepancies had nothing to do with the amount I loved them, but rather was a factor of time, pure and simple. More kids, less time!

Let's face it, most children when growing up, if asked if their parents had a favourite child, would say 'yes'. On any given day they could feel like the favoured or the less favoured child. There are so many factors involved in this : age, gender, sleep, behaviour, health, success…

Another point that parents are reluctant to acknowledge, is their incredible attachment to their firstborn. When a second child arrives, all too often it is seen as an interloper by the first child and there is anxiety on the part of the parents as to whether they can love a second child as much as they love their first. Normally, those feelings soon give way to love and approval for the newcomer by everyone in the family.

Yet, as I researched this topic, I was surprised that many studies proclaimed that, indeed, parents have favourite children. In Bristol England(2009), in a study of 14,000 families, they found that each successive sibling received ‘markedly’ less care and attention from their parents than their older siblings. Further, in this study, older siblings were found to be better fed and had higher IQs because they were given their parents’ undivided attention for the first part of their lives.

This has simply not been my experience personally, nor that of most of my friends. Admittedly, we all have good days and bad days with all of our children. This is just called living-the ebb and flow of life.

Sometimes one child gets more attention or is treated differently than another because they need it, or because they are doing something that interests you. Certainly, if this is protracted behaviour, it could be considered favouritism. But this is usually short-term depending on who is going through' a phase'. The underlying love is just as intense for all of them.

I have often been told that that I live on the sunny side of the street and over there you can blink at apparent truths that you trip over and don't like. If indeed there is a majority of parents who have favourite children, there is one thing that I do believe whole-heartedly. Even if you think you have a favourite, do not say it, for if you tell either child, it will become fixed in their minds forever.

And by the way, I am routing through boxes of pictures to rectify the album inequity.