Parental favoritism is usually seen as a bad thing; favoring one child over the others is not seen as a right thing to do. Yet, many parents do have a “favorite child”, whether they want to admit it or not. While some people claim they don’t have a favorite child or that they’d never favor one child over the others, the reality of the situation shows that favoritism is something that happens in many families.
Is This Normal?
While favoritism is seen as morally wrong, numerous researches point out that it’s actually normal and unavoidable. While there are some situations that can bring harm and that should not be done, it’s important to know that favoring one child over the others is not a bad thing on itself. In fact, it’s what most parents do, even if they are unaware of it.
Why do parents favor one child over the others? Experts say that it’s usually due to the bonds formed with said child as the opposite of the others. Sometimes, the child’s age is the major factor: older children have more of a personality and can do more things, so spending time with them is more fun. Oftentimes, favoritism comes as a consequence of gender: many parents bond better with the child of their own gender, though for some people find it easier to bond with a child of the opposite gender.
A lot of time, it’s basic human psychology: parents have their unique personalities and so do children. Just like we don’t get along with everyone equally, and just like we don’t enjoy everyone’s company in equal measures, we can’t enjoy all of our children’s’ personalities in equal ways. Some children will have personalities that match our own better than the others. Some children will be easier to understand and bond with. Some children will behave in a way that it’s easier for us to understand. This is just a fact of life, and there is nothing wrong about it per se.
It’s vital for parents to understand that children are people with unique personalities, and as such, may have personalities that suit us better than the others. It’s important to be aware of this fact and try not to deny it or avoid it.
That being said, it’s important to note that favoring one child does not mean and should not mean loving this child more than the others or actually giving them more attention and care than the others.
When it Becomes a Problem
Feeling a better bond with one child due to matching personalities is not a bad thing. However, favoritism can take an ugly turn, and this is what parents should watch for. You should never allow yourself to treat one of your children differently than the others. Acceptable favoritism does not mean that you should actually love one child more than the others or that you give more attention or care to this child than to your other children.
We all know numerous stories about parents who favor one child over the others to the point of being a worse parent to children they don’t favor. This harmful favoritism can have serious consequences for all your children and your family as a whole. The non-favored children will feel left out and unwanted, which can leave psychological consequences. However, the favorite child, too, can suffer consequences, ranging from weak character to guilt and other problems.
The bottom line is: favoritism due to different personalities is not harmful on itself, but it should not go beyond that. You should not be a better parent to one of your children than the others, and you should not give more attention or care to your favorite child than the others.
What do you think? Is parental favoritism a prevailing issue and is it a harmful thing? Share your comments below.