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Parental Favoritism, How to tell

Updated on October 24, 2011
A favorite flower.
A favorite flower. | Source
Another favorite flower.
Another favorite flower. | Source
Another favorite flower.
Another favorite flower. | Source


Favoritism, we all say we hate it, but how many of us act according to what we consider favorite things. Most of us gravitate to our favorite thing. Color, shoes, sweater, food, jewelry, and people, despite the fact that we don't want to be accused of playing favorites most of us have to fight against the urge to do it.

Especially parents.

At least overtly.

Time magazine just published a large article written by Jeffrey Kluger, that i agree to disagree with although i believe he made some very astute observations with scientific data to back it, the thing about scientific data though is it can go both ways depending on the point one wants to sell, ah make.

Our children at some point in our parenting career accuse us of playing favorites. It usually comes in phrases like 'that is not fair or you let them do it, or why can't i ', and my ultimate favorite, 'you like them better than me'.

What a kick in the groin. Talk about struggling with guilt. I usually had to remind myself that I was being manipulated, conned so i could go along with what the child desired and not stick to my point that it would not be allowed.

But there are ways to combat this accusation. That doesn't mean it won't ever come but you are the one who has the responsibility to make sure it is not done on purpose. Children internalize this and it can be exhibited in behavior problems.

Sibling favoritism can take many forms, but the one thing one has to keep in mind is that you are not playing favorites if you are doing what is right for each personality that you are trying to raise properly.

As a parent you better be capable of objectivity in some areas when bringing up baby, especially when there is more than one baby. Like Bill Cosby says one child doesn't count cause if something is broke you know who did it, and with one child favoritism is never a problem.

How to tell

  • You are more lenient for the same crime
  • You allow one to get away with not doing something, while punishing the other for the same thing
  • When sharing, you give one a larger portion

Thing is these are all kind of murky! They can or cannot be misconstrued as being a sign of favoritism. There are a whole lot more parameters involved before you start accusing someone of playing favorites. Even when it looks that way!

The best way actually is normally through listening to the individual child themselves. It at least gives you a place to start and you also have to check your own inner voice, if you are self aware you will listen to your own inner voice which will caution you. Pay attention!

All children require different things from there parents when it comes to their own emotional growth, but it all depends on the child's personality. This is where a lot of people start feeling guilty, but you can't allow others to dictate what is good for your child if you know them the best. Stay in tuned to them, watch there reactions and their behavior.

Things not to do

  • do not compare
  • do not allow others to compare your children
  • do not ignore your child
  • stop what you are doing when they seek you out
  • do not take sides
  • don't allow opportunities to pass without talking to them

Things to reinforce

  • what works with one, may not work for the other
  • use what works with the personality of the child
  • stick to your convictions and your decisions
  • don't allow comparisons
  • tell, show how much you love them individually
  • talk openly and focus when they are talking to you

Make sure you do not judge your children on how well they do or how they behave. I know this sounds contradictory but we have to remember that loving our children for who they become and are, is consistent and constant.

It is good to celebrate their accomplishments but your child is not what they can or cannot accomplish. We all have strengths and weaknesses but to tie me to something that is ever subject to change is not the best way to celebrate a life.

You are not what you do, your job or some kind of action or behavior, neither is your child. Get to know them and love them for themselves.

Back to Kluger's article, if we observe evolutionary themes such as he spouted about beauty, strength and intelligence, why do we still have ugly, weak and so called dummies roaming the planet.

Don't get me wrong i believe to survive in some places humans have constantly adapted but regardless of being able to live without some organs, the human machine is optimal with all of the organs we are born with because they all serve a purpose.

The spirit of protection though is different and favoritism does not cause the difficulty if we practice fairness and treat people according to their personality and how we would like to be treated.


  • children are people to
  • children take their cues from their environment
  • children need instruction
  • children know only what you teach them
  • children are due respect as well
  • children want to know they can trust you
  • children learn by following

The old saying about leaders make good followers also apply to parents, good parents are usually good leaders who make good followers. Never remember favoritism can be detrimental but you are the one that can control that when it comes to your children.

Never allow anyone to compare them and neither do you. Enjoy who they are and take pride in the fact that they are their own unique individual!


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    • Celiegirl profile image

      Celiegirl 6 years ago

      thanks rwelton, isn't it interesting how every child has different views on their parents, i find it intriguing, enjoy each opportunity with yours!

    • rwelton profile image

      rwelton 6 years ago from Sacramento CA

      I have 4 kids and I can share that although I love all of them all of the time...just maybe not equally all the time...there are moments...

      At age 64, over the third glass of wine with my sister (60) I shared that our mom always liked me best and had told me so...where upon my sister said "in your dreams, Mom Always said she liked me best." ..ha..

      Good psychology ...

      Voted up - thanks for sharing.