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Of Course, MOST Parents Have a FAVORITE Child- That's A FACT of Life!
PARENTS PRACTICE FAVORITISM ALTHOUGH THEY REFUSE TO ACKOWLEDGE IT
WHAT MAKES ONE CHILD IN THE FAMILY TO BE FAVORED OVER OTHER CHILDREN
FAMILY SIZE MAY BE INSTRUMENTAL TO BIRTH ORDER
PRECARIOUS STATUS OF THE FAVORITE CHILD IN THE FAMILY
I Knew It! Mom and Dad Always Liked YOU Best! I Just Kneeeew It!
What is the dark family secret? Shhhhh! Oh, no it is not what you may have thought! Oh no, oh my goodness! It is parental favoritism! Even though most parents purport to never having a favorite child, subconsciously and instinctually they have a child or children who are their favorites.
Favoritism in families have existed since time immemorial. The greatest historical example of parental favoritism is the story of Jacob and Joseph in the Bible. Jacob had twelve sons and he favored Joseph, his second youngest son, over the others. There are only a minute percentage of parents who maintain that they neither believe in nor practice parental favoritism with their children. It is common knowledge that there is parental favoritism in families whether parents freely admit or not. Many parents, however, are extremely loathe to mention the subject as it would be considered politically incorrect to admit to such a practice.
There are many reasons for parental favoritism. It could be that the favored child/children have similar positive characteristics to that of the parents. Secondly, the child/children could physically resemble the parent and/or parents in question. Thirdly, oftentimes, a child/children WHO conform to the familial consensus and/or parental groupthink philosophy are very much favored by the parents. In other words, parents favor the more obedient child who is easier to raise and will give them no trouble.
Parents often favor children who are considered assets to the family for one reason or another. This child and/or children usually possess academic acumen, athletic prowess, unusually high intellect/genius, prodigious creative/artistic talent, and outstanding beauty/ handsomeness. Parents often view their children as a part of and a reflection of them. So in essence, the more positive and outstanding a child's characteristics are, the more this child is favored by the parents.
For the same aforementioned reasons, parents are naturally going to favor children who possess their similar positive characteristics and/or beliefs. For example, extroverted parents are going to overwhelmingly favor their extroverted child over a more introverted child. Parents usually have a better understanding of and synchronization of children who possess same and/or similar characteristics as they do.
Birth order is another factor that is influential in parental favoritism. Many parents treat their children preferentially and/or differentially based upon their children's respective birth order. In some families, the oldest child is favored because he/she is deemed to be the most responsible and conscientious. While in other families, it is the youngest child who is favored because he/she is the baby to be cherished and sheltered at all costs. The issue of birth order as it relates to parental favoritism is solely dependent upon the individual child and the parents in question as to what child is to be favored.
A subcategory of birth order is family size. However, this can be circumstantial. In many small to medium sized families, parental favoritism is often a nonissue. In such families, children are often on an equal paring with each other. They, more or less receive equal parental treatment based upon their respective ages and genders.
However, in medium large to very large families, there are more children competing for parental attention. In such families, children are often on a quite unequal paring with each other. In such families, oldest and middle children are often overlooked and/or not favored and the youngest child is favored because of the virtue of his/her status. Youngest children are often parental favorites in such families because he/she is viewed as the jewel and precious one that needs to be taken care of.
Youngest children in medium large to very large families have it the easiest. Parents often treat them very preferentially because they are considered as the baby, defenseless, and the most fragile. Parents in such families often view their youngest as precious entities. These children are often indulged and give leeway which the parents' oldest and middle children did not have. Youngest children in medium large to very large families are often treated royally by the parents.
Youngest children are indeed favored in that they often have the longest childhood of any birth order. They are often assume responsibilities at a much later age in comparison to the oldest and middle child of the family. They often are recipients of their parents' socioeconomic affluence as many parents become more socioeconomically affluent as time progresses. They are neither disciplined nor punished as harshly as the oldest and middle child who were often their parents' experimental children.
Youngest children in medium large to very large families are favored by their parents in ways that the oldest and middle children are definitely not. They are allowed more freedom to explore their childhood and adolescence while the oldest and middle children were saddled with responsibilities at similar ages. In large to very large families, it is the youngest child who is the most favorably treated by their parents. This is why when people state that they loved growing up in large to very large families, it is always the youngest child. Youngest children generally receive more parental hugs than either the oldest and middle child. Parents just seem to favor their youngest child over their oldest and middle child for the reasons I have delineated above.
Parental favoritism is often quite a precarious thing. In some families, the favored child can quickly fall out of favor for any reason. A once obedient child can become a surly rebellious teenager who disagree with his/her parents over the most trivial thing. The smart, ambitious child expresses no desire to pursue higher education. This favored child in such cases is no longer the favorite and another child is who more conforming and agreeable to parental expectations is chosen as the favorite child.
Parental favoritism can either be extremely fickle as I have detailed above or it is permanent. Children who are their parents' favorites know their parents in ways that the other children in the family do not. Favored children often have very close relationships with their parents. They are also in a privileged relationship with their parents.
Of course, there is a positive and negative side to parental favoritism. The favorite child often have high expectations placed upon him/her. This child is placed under intense pressure to succeed and win at all costs and not to fail. The favored child also is slated into a rigid role which he/she will be associated with, even if he/she changes and/or grows out of the role. The favorite child because of their often indulgent childhood often develop a sense of entitlement and thinking that he/she is better than his/her siblings.
Of course, the favorite child is often ostracized by the less favored siblings and/or other children in the family. He/she is often the victim of verbal abuse and bullying and worse. Because favorite children are considered the stars by their parents, other children are often secretly elated when the favorite child in the family falls short or fails to achieve parental expectations!
Parents often have different expectations of their favorite children than they do their other children. Parents often expect their favorite children to care for them in their old age. Parents make their favorite children beholden to them psychologically, emotionally, and often socioeconomically in ways that their other children are not. There is such an intense symbiotic relationship between parents and their favorite children that is often difficult for the parents and the favorite child to grow beyond the traditional parent-child relationship. There is a saying to which much is given, much is expected. This adage is aptly applied to the relationship between the favorite child and his/her parents.
In summation, parental favoritism is an unspoken fact of life. Most parents favor one child or more over their other children. It is natural for parents to do so. It is a rare parent who does not practice favoritism with their children.
Parents usually favor a child or children whom they consider easy to raise for one reason or another. They also favor a child or children who possess the same and/or similar positive characteristics as they do. They furthermore favor a child or children who they consider to be assets to the family.
Birth order and family size are also influential in parental favoritism towards a child or children. Children are often favored based upon their family constellation and the number of children in the family. In small to medium sized families, children are usually on an equal paring with each other and are treated the same by parents. However, circumstances such as the child's age and gender also influences the issue of favoritism in small and medium sized families.
However, in medium large to very large families, there is more instances of preferential and differential treatment based upon the two variables of birth order and family size. In such families, it is often the youngest children who are the recipients of parental favoritism. These reasons include parental laxity when the youngest child is born to more socioeconomic affluence. In such families, the youngest child is viewed as more the baby than he/she would be in smaller families; this results in them being treated more indulgently.
Of course there are positives and negatives regarding parental favoritism. The favored child is often held to higher expectations. He/she is beholden to the parent psychologically and socioeconomically in ways that the other children in the family are not! There is also jealousy from the other siblings which could result in verbal bullying and/or worse. Yes, most parents practice favoritism whether they wish to admit it or not!
© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams