I think that the worst-kept secret in parenting is that many parents can and actually DO have favorite children.
Some truly do not, but it is way, way more common than it appears, and it can range from kids having no idea their parents prefer one child to another (YAY!) to the extreme asshole/possibly abusive end of the scale where it is painfully, horribly obvious to everyone that there is a Golden Child. (BOO!)
(If you couldn’t tell it’s, um, way better to strive for the former than the latter.)
I have loved people that have born the brunt of being less favored (in the icky way) by their parents, and it is so hurtful to them. Even if you feel loved and appreciated by your parents, it can sting when they just find another sibling more compatible/interesting than you are. People deal with the fallout of this in different ways, and it depends on the extent of treatment but they all seem to go through stages of insecurity, anger, resentment and confusion to varying degrees of intensity. Hopefully they can come to terms with it, but some carry severe scars their whole lives.
And that is so very wrong.
As parents, most of us strive to love, interact, treat, like and feel equally about our kids, but ”equal” in parenting doesn’t really exist.
Some kids need more from their parents than others. Some kids sap their parents' emotional and physical reserves far more than their other kids. And yes, some parents just LIKE one kid more than the others. And the tendency is to feel horribly guilty about it.
If you are doing your best to make sure your kids' needs are met and that they feel loved and secure, I don’t believe that it is wrong.
Trying to be fair in what you give and show to your children doesn’t mean that you can dictate emotional reaction at a base level. Kids are still people, and there are people you get along with naturally better than others. Even if they are the fruit of your loins and you love them dearly.
There are other reasons for having favorite children.
I absolutely have a favorite.
Here he is:
My life, my joy, my baby boy.
Note the word I used there?
It’s a biggie, folks.
I have had four boys and ALL OF THEM HAVE BEEN MY FAVORITE AT THAT AGE.
For me it’s the age, not the child.
(Although, I DO confess to the shine on my eldest's star is slightly dimmed when he tells me that I am going to die alone in a nursing home since he will never get married or have children because I won’t let him stay up to watch, “Annie” and “HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND WOMEN IF YOU DON’T LET ME WATCH CHICK FLICKS, MOTHER?!!!!!” Sigh.)
Sure, character traits, temperament, and likes and dislikes make some kids mesh easier than others, but I have wildly different children and I truly love each of them for different reasons. I LIKE them on different levels depending on the day. One is easier to get along with on a day-to-day basis, but he has so many qualities and loves with me that it all comes out pretty even in the wash.
But yes … I confess to having favorite ages, and NO age is more loved by me than “BABY.”
I WORSHIP my babies.
And I don’t apologize for it.
The good thing is?
Aaron is everyone’s favorite in my family.
Because we lost a little one to SIDS in 2003 and needed a lot of healing time before having another baby, there is a 10-year gap between the baby and his next-eldest sibling. Such a large age gap makes a completely different dynamic in the relationship that my two elder children have with their baby brother. I do not have to deal with insecurity in other children that are threatened by the new baby. You can bet if one of my children were feeling that way, I would go out of my way to fight it so that they felt just as loved. As it is, I still have stepped it up with my youngest to make sure we have some “Mom/son” time that is just us, and his dad takes him on outings all the time.
But really, it is a non-issue.
There are few household activities that trump BABY TIME!!! My boys, Jonathan and I all come running when someone announces, "Look at what the baby is doing!” The boys beg to help bathe, feed, rock, play with and “have bro time” constantly. My dad calls multiple times a day to check on him and to tell me to kiss him and tell him not to give away all his kisses before Grandpa sees him next. My mom loves Wednesdays when they watch him while Jonathan and I have choir practice, even though they are in their mid-seventies and it’s not as easy as it used to be for them. They LOVE all my boys but like the rest of us, there is just a special light that shines with a baby.
After everything we have all been through, I am just so happy that he is here to BE the favorite.
We all would have it no other way.
What about you? Do you have a "favorite" age or child that has a personality that meshes with yours easier than the rest of your kids? Have you dealt with being the favorite or the fallout from not being the Golden Child? Has it influenced the way YOU parent?
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