Small Things You're Doing That Prove You Have A Favorite Child
You may love your children equally, but that doesn't mean you like them all the same. You probably have a favorite child, and you're not alone. According to a 2005 research study published in the Journal of Psychology, over 70% of parents show preferential treatment towards one child. There are a number of ways parents show which kid is their favorite, and it's often incredibly subtle—some parents slightly change the tone of their voice or clearly feel more relaxed around one child than another.
Parenting is funny and weird. There's no shame in navigating the strange corners of love and connection. The truth is, though, that most parents don't want to admit they have a favorite child because there's some deep-seated stigma against preferring one child over another. In fact, the majority of parents may not even be aware they have a favorite because it often happens subconsciously.
Do parents have a favorite child? Absolutely. Does it make them a bad mom or dad? Nope! It's normal to feel a stronger connection to a child who's easier to discipline and well behaved; however, if you let the favoritism go unchecked, it can lead to lasting emotional scars. It's helpful to know the signs of favoritism to make sure you're not showing one child preferential treatment over the others.
You Notice One Of Your Kids Is Really ClingyPhoto: cater87 / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
Are you picking up on the fact that one of your kids seems needier than the others? It could be a sad symptom of you subconsciously favoring their other siblings. According to Dr. Barbara Howard, a developmental behavior pediatrician and assistant professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, kids can sense favoritism, and it breeds clinginess.
“Often the child is trying to get the attention of the parent who is rejecting them—the more you push a kid away, the more he will come at you,” she told The New York Times. “So if you see a kid coming at a parent, being aggressive or being clingy or needy or overly attention-seeking, often the parent doesn’t like the kid that much, or the kid perceives it.”
You Feel More Relaxed Around A Certain ChildPhoto: photosavvy / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
Some children are just easier to get along with than others. It's a fact. If you notice yourself feeling a little more relaxed with one of your children, that's normal, but it also shows you may have a favorite.
“Some days are sunny. Some days are rainy. We want both but, let’s face it, not in equal measure. I have two children. One brings warmth and sweetness into the room, the other sometimes makes me want to run for shelter," an anonymous parent told Man Repeller. " I can relax when I’m with one, I laugh more and it’s just more pleasant. With the other, interactions are intense, not because we have conflict, but because I never know what emotions will pour forth. When I think about it in terms of liking one or the other more, I resist that characterization because the experience with each is dissimilar to the other. Sunny days can go unnoticed, but a thunderstorm makes us pay attention.”
Ellen Webber Libby, Ph.D says that wanting to be around an easier-going child is totally normal, but it's important that the parent occasionally shows preferential treatment to the more difficult child and that the difficult child "trusts the feelings of being favored as legitimate."
You Usually Take Your Youngest Child's Side In An Argument
Have you relaxed a bit throughout your years as a parent? It's pretty natural, but it's also a sign that you may just prefer your youngest. Do you ever catch yourself doling out harsher punishments to your older kids? Is your youngest getting away with things you'd never have let fly before?
Statistically, you're not alone. According to one study, 59% of parents favor their youngest—they're more likely to side with them in an argument and give them more attention.
You Feel Like You Have More In Common With One ChildPhoto: More Good Foundation / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
Real talk: you probably have something in common with all of your children. They came from you, after all (and even if they didn't there's a whole lot to be said for the idea of nurture vs. nature). If you find yourself feeling like you have a little bit more in common with one child than another, you may just have a favorite.
You're not alone: 64% of parents feel like they have more in common with their eldest child and that having a conversation is easier.
You Can't Make Up Your Mind About Which Kid You Like The Most
You may think you don't have a favorite because your idea of the favorite is always changing. It's pretty normal, and one mom who spoke to Man Repeller put it best. She said:
"The truth is: Yes, I have a favorite child, but it has always been ever-changing. Just like that group of friends you hang out with, sometimes one over the other seems like your BFF and then later they don’t. I’m lucky that I have kids who are lovable in their own rights and are nice human beings, but they all have their quirks. My husband says my boys are ‘mama’s boys’ and my daughter is—well, she’s a girl and we relate! Right now, she’s ‘it,’ but it’s been known to change."
So yeah, you may love all your kids equally, but you probably have an ever-changing favorite.
Your Kids Have Told You That You Have A Favorite—And You've Denied It
A lot of the time, a parent is the last person to know they actually have a favorite child. According to Ellen Weber Libby, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist who authored the book The Favorite Child, admits that children are perceptive. If they're telling you that you have a favorite, it may just be true.
“The people who don’t know [there is a favorite child] are usually the parents, who live in denial because there’s a myth that to have a favorite child is bad," she told The New York Times.