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The Unfavored Child In The Family

Updated on September 8, 2013
gmwilliams profile image

Grace writes about family. The notion that siblings are crucial to families is a MYTH. Siblings negatively impact children in myriad ways.


When a child is the unfavored one in the family,he/she feels like an outsider, nonentity,& under a dark cloud. No matter what he/she does, it really DOES NOT matter.............
When a child is the unfavored one in the family,he/she feels like an outsider, nonentity,& under a dark cloud. No matter what he/she does, it really DOES NOT matter.............
Unfavored children suffer from low self-esteem because they feel unwanted &/or ignored by their families.Because of the negative treatment they receive, they have little or no sense of self.
Unfavored children suffer from low self-esteem because they feel unwanted &/or ignored by their families.Because of the negative treatment they receive, they have little or no sense of self.
Many unfavored children carve quite a niche for themselves & establish SEPARATE & INDEPENDENT lives from that of their families.
Many unfavored children carve quite a niche for themselves & establish SEPARATE & INDEPENDENT lives from that of their families.

Woe Is Me............... I AM Woe.......Woe Is My Life

The family is one of the main societal institutions. Families usually provide a sense of belonging, love, and support to its members. Family members are usually protective of each of members and stick by each other no matter what. Children in families are usually loved and treated equally by the parents. What............?

What world are you living in? This is the real world. In the real world, parents usually treat their children either preferentially and/or differentially based upon the variables and circumstances involved. It is a deep and dark secret that parents treat their children quite.........well, unequally.

Everyone has heard about the favorite child. This is the child who is treated better than his/her other siblings in the family. This better treatment includes getting away with offenses that other children in the family would be punished for, being granted special privileges, and/or receiving more and/or better things than the other children in the family. There are plusses and minuses in being the favorite child. Then there is the child who is clearly the unfavored one in the family.........

Yes, there is such a thing as being the unfavored child in the family. In natural and in human typologies, there are always dichotomies. In everything, there is an opposite. That premise is just a fact of life. If there is black, there is white. When there is a north, there is a south. Well, then there are favorite and unfavored children in families.

The situation of the unfavored child is diametrically opposed to that of the favorite child in the family. The unfavored child is the one who is more differentially treated albeit negatively than his/her other siblings. The unfavored child is somewhat the odd child out in the family so to speak.

There are a myriad of reasons why a child is the unfavored one in the family. He/she often possesses different characteristics from the parents and/or the rest of the family members. He/she may be the creative/artistic one among athletic types. Perhaps, the child is an introvert among extroverts. He/she could the same characteristics as the parent which is often a negative reminder of what the latter wishes to forget and/or is not proud of.

More often or not, many unfavored children are also middle children. Out of all the birth orders, it is the middle child is the unfavored child in the family. The middle child is the one the least doted upon by the parents. They usually dote on the oldest child until he/she is old enough not to need so much parental supervisor. They also dote on the youngest child because he/she is the baby of the family- the precious one and the doll.

Well, the middle child in many families are often left to their own devices. Besides being somewhat ignored and less doted on by their parents, middle children are also underappreciated by them. No matter what they do, the oldest child has done it first so what he/she does is really no big deal and is nothing new.

The middle child is the one who the parents make constant comparisons of. This child is often not valued for the unique individual he/she is. He/she is oftentimes compared to the older and/or younger sibling. In essence, he/she is never enough as IS........

Because middle children are sandwiched between the oldest and youngest siblings, they are treated as the forgotten ones by their parents. They are "just there", no more and no less. As a result of this treatment, many middle children prefer becoming anonymous as their parents are not paying attention to them anyway. They often have little or no sense of worth because they are made to feel insignificant besides their oldest and/or youngest siblings and not being valued for their individual selves.

This explains why so many middle children advocate for the underdog and the downtrodden. They were often the unfavored and ignored child in their respective families so they develop empathy for other likeminded souls. There are other middle children who become quite vocal and aggressive, asserting their rights and dignity, vowing never to be treated differentially and/or ignored by their families ever again. Others elect to pursue avenues totally divergent from their families in order to prove them wrong while quite a few go their own individual and independent way, completely separating from their families.

There are some unfavored children who are extremely diametrically different from their parents. These children are often the misunderstood children. They are just out of sync with their parents and the rest of the family for that matter. Maybe these children are more evolved mentally, psychologically, and/or spiritually than the rest of the family members.

Many such children are often classified as old souls i.e. they have a knowing that belies their young years. Some of these children are quite gifted and/or very psychic in addition to being ahead of their time. Many parents actually do not understand and/or know how to interact with such gifted children. These children often refuse to conform to the more mundane aspects of society and usually follow a quite different lifepath so to speak.

Many parents simply are quite nonplussed that their children are different than they are. They often view such children as threats and anathemas instead of appreciating their uniqueness. It is their agenda to homogenize their children and to make them conform into the family groupthink construct.

The unfavored child is often considered by their parents as "the other" child. He/she is oftentimes held to a different and/or harsher standard by the family. He/she is chastised and/or punished more harshly for mistakes that the other siblings may get away with. He/she also receives less privileges than the other children in the family.

Unfavored children are often the recipients in the art of comparisons. They are oftentimes compared to the more favorite child in the family and/or to more favorable children outside the family such as cousins, friends, and classmates. According to the parents, the unfavored child is often viewed as the " lesser" child where the other child is viewed as the "more" child- intelligent, athletic, agreeable, etc. . They are made by the parents to feel insufficient in themselves. In addition to feeling quite insufficient, they are also made to feel as if they are personas non gratas.

Many parents have less than positive feelings towards their unfavored child. These feelings range from mild indifference to outright hatred. Unfavored children are either just tolerated and/or ignored at best and derided at the worst. There are quite a few unfavored children who are actually ostracized and scapegoated by their families for any wrongs committed whether it is actual or perceived.

There are a lot of unfavored children who feel quite unwanted by their parents. They believe that they are in the way so to speak. They furthermore believe what they do is and/or will be always never good enough for their parents no matter how well they do. To their parents, they just exist and no more.

Let's further elaborate on the premise that the unfavored is often considered the odd/outside child out. Many parents contend that there is something about their unfavored child which makes them quite prominent albeit in a less than positive way. They wonder why this child acts in ways that are contrary to that of the rest of the family. In relation to parental bewilderment regarding the unfavored child, he/she is often viewed as an albatross and/or an embarrassment to the smooth functioning of the family unit.

It is the cry of such parents that out of all the family members, why is a particular child acting that way when other family members are not. In essence, this child is viewed as a threat to the family groupthink consensus. The parents bemoan the unfavored child, often decrying his/her "idiosyncrasies" and wishing that he/she would be "more normal" like the other children in the family. Sometimes, this bewilderment often turns to more negative feelings ranging from dislike to downright hatred of the unfavored child.

Unfavored children are also perceived more negatively by the parent than other children in the family. They are often expected to achieve the least and/or to be utter failures. They are considered to be no good, inept, and/or incompetent. In essence, the unfavored child is metaphorically painted with the tar brush.

Conversely, anything positive achieved by the unfavored child is often dismissed as wholly insignificant. He/she is doomed from the start. He/she is always in a Catch-22 situation, damned for either doing good and/or bad. The unfavored child is the one with the MOSTEST so to speak. He/she is the MOST ignored if he/she does something positive and MOST chastised and punished when he/she does something wrong. Many an unfavored child portend that he/she can NEVER do anything right in his/her parents' eyes or so it seems.

Many unfavored child have little or no self-esteem because of the derisive and differential treatment they received from their parents. In addition to that, they also believe that they are quite insignificant. They contend that because of their insignificance in the family scheme of things, anything they do is inconsequential to say the least. As a result of this, they develop low expectations of themselves. Many unfavored child just give up period.

Some unfavored children, since they only receive negative attention, act negatively in order to get that attention. They are indeed fulfilling their family script of them. They often become the bad one because that it all they hear and that is how they are perceived by their parents. Their reasoning is that if the most important people in their lives feel that they are bad, maybe they are.

Still other unfavored children elect to become nebulous. They reason since their parents pay as little attention to them as possible, they feel like nonentities so it is better for them to be an unobtrusive as possible. It is as if they are living in a proverbial Grayland, a situation more infernal than blissful.

Many unfavored children become quite rebellious. They feel that since their parents do not like them much, they are going to nurture themselves. They maintain that they are good and valid people within themselves. They believe in charting their own paths and pursuing their own unique lifepaths no matter what their parents may think. In their estimation, whether their parents approve or disapprove of them is of no consequence to them.

Other unfavored children become distant from their parents and other family members. They are quite independent, going their own way. They also find more positive role models outside the immediate family whether it is extended family members such as aunts, uncles, older cousins, grandparents, great aunts/uncles, and non-related persons. Like their more rebellious counterparts, these unfavored children adamantly refuse to let their parents' indifference and negativity affect them. They portend that they own their lives and no one is going to influence them to believe otherwise.

Many unfavored children carve quite an impressive niche for themselves. Many achieve innumerable successes in business, entertainment, and/or other arenas. They use the fact that they were unfavored to go into divergently different path and lifestyles than their other family members, particularly the more favorite ones. Many others use their unfavored status to champion causes for the unfortunate, downtrodden, and/or the underrepresented among us.

In conclusion, the family unit is supposed to be a cohesive unit where all children within its purview are treated fairly and equally. However, this is the ideal family but realistically, many parents have children who are either intentionally or unintentionally treated better and/or worse depending upon the family scenario. This is quite rife in families although many parents are extremely loathe to acknowledge this.

There are many reasons why children are unfavored by their parents. They can possess characteristics which are different from that of the parent and/or other family members. They can also have the same characteristics of the parents which the latter deem as quite negative. They can possess prodigious and an extraordinary gifts which the parents and/or other family members cannot fathom and/or comprehend.

Sometimes birth order is influential as to rather a child is unfavored. Oftentimes, middle children are the ones who are unfavored by their parents. They are the ones who are sandwiched between the oldest and youngest siblings. While the others are doted on by the parents for whatever reason, the middle child is often left out of the family scenario and have to rely on himself/herself.

The residual effects of the often indifferent and/or negative differential treatment of unfavored children is that they often have little or no self-esteem. They further believe that they are always in a Catch-22 situation, damnable if they either do right and/or wrong. Many of them succumb to quite a fatalistic self-fulfilling prophecy. Still, others refuse to let this negativity stop them from achieving their wildest dreams. They often go their own independent way, giving themselves permission to be what they were meant to be.

© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams


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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 19 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Favoritism is indeed horrific to both favored & disfavored children.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 19 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      The issue of favoritism is indeed a very sad situation.

    • profile image

      Sandy 19 months ago

      I'm in a similar situation. It's made me a better Mother & Grandmother.

    • profile image

      L S 2 years ago

      Statistics may say one thing but in my case it was just the

      opposite. I am the oldest girl with a sister close in age and

      a brother a few years younger. I am and was the least

      favorite of the three. I always felt like my sister was

      the "golden child" with my brother a very close second.

      But I love my siblings dearly and would go out of my way

      to protect them. I love my parents even though they treated

      me different than my siblings. My younger sister has a key

      to their house but when I asked for one they had an excuse.

      My mom gets my sister to bring something delicious to add

      to any holiday meal at her house. I am a very good cook but

      she will not let me bring any kind of dish...I'm asked

      instead to bring some cold drinks or paper cups and plates.

      Even my sister-in-law gets asked to bring a dish or a baked

      desert. She's literally asked me NOT to bring something

      I've made; others have told me I'm a good cook so I can't

      understand her reasoning. My sister and sister-in-law

      are also excellent cooks and bakers so it's not jealousy on

      her part as far as I can tell. She is in denial about how she

      treats me; I used to think it was my father that was worse

      but looking back I don't think so. I think he went along with

      her in some of the things she did, because he likes to have

      peace. I'm determined to not do that to any of my and my

      husbands three children, or to our grandchildren. I love them

      all equally and treat them like they are the most special person

      on the earth to me. I do not want any of them to grow up with

      this hollow feeling inside. If we feel like the black sheep there

      may not be much we can do to fix it. But at least we can

      make sure we don't pass that on to our loved ones.

      I have a close relationship with God through His Son Jesus

      now that I'm an adult, and I know He loves me lock, stock,

      and barrel!! I'll never be second best to Him.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      @bgurrl, what you have elucidated is so true indeed.

    • profile image

      bgurrl 3 years ago

      There are other things that play into it as well. Was the planned or unplanned this goes for any birth order, was it a difficult birth etc. Also is a parent jealous of another parents attention to a child(ren)

    • profile image

      TammanyB 5 years ago

      Very interesting read. I have recently been reading articles and even found a book regarding middle child syndrome. Strangely enough I am the middle child, but I have never felt neglected. I have however developed social skills to understand all walks of life ( maybe being the underdog?) along with being the only child that is now soley independent from a young age. I left the nest before 21 to live my life, carry out my dreams and develop a world where I belong. My parents have always supported my decisions and praised my achievments. What I have found though, and maybe you can discuss this further with me; is my older and younger sibling seem to fight for top ranking support from my parents. They fight with one another and try to gain my parents side for their arguments etc. I then find myself having to nurture and discuss these issues with all members of the family to help them solve the dilemmas. Would this be , because in someway I am an outsider in the picture that I can have a better understanding and give advice and counciling to the matter ? Sorry , your post has just sparkled some thoughts and ideas. thank you!