Do You Have a Favorite Child?

Apparently we do.  It seems it is hardwired for parents to have a favorite child whether we like to admit it or not.  Usually we don't. It's human nature and some other animals do it too but are a bit more extreme. For example, mom penguins will kick hers smallest eggs off the nest and Back Eagles watch as her bigger chicks rips her smallest chick to pieces.  But it seems other animals are not as cruel and tend to favor the weakest child. An example being coot birds who prefer to feed their weakest chicks and tend to feel them more. So where do humans lie in all of this? it turns out we are somewhere right in the middle.

So who gets this prestigious "Favorite Child" award?  Research shows that the first born are usually the favorite.  See what happens is that usually with your first child you are so excited to be a parent, you prepare and plan and when they are born you spend time with them as much as you can and you give it your very best. It seems 65% of moms and 78% of dads have a preference for the older one. First born are usually taller and stronger as they don't have to share food and have a 3 point IQ advantage because of their parent's initial focus.  So if our first child gets the top of the barrel of our parenting attention, then does it all goes downhill from there?

Apparently not.  There is still hope for the next children!  It seems, we parents have this thing called "Reproductive Narcissism":  If kids don't look like you, then can at least act like you. Personality, it seems plays an even more important role to becoming the favorite child, not just the first born we have so much invested in.  This rings true to many other kinds of relationships, like a spouse or a friend for example.  The more you have in common with someone, the better you get along and this has nothing to do with birth order.

Ok so, so what about if you have five girls and only one boy, I bet your bottoms this one boy will be special. An only boy or an only girl are different so this child will get extra attention.  This is also true for a beautiful child or one with a special talent, whom many times are treated better.  We all remember "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" right? Humans have a bias for the lovely over the less so, which can mean bonus points with parents.  So what if you're not the cutest thing ever born, is there still hope?

Of course there's always hope. It also seems moms and dads have a tendency to be suckas for the opposite sex child.  It seems that most likely the favorite child are the first born son for a mom and the  last born daughter for a dad.  It is the coveted "Mommy's Prince" or "Daddy's Princess" place.

Ok, so let's say you're less than the prettiest thing, born somewhere in the middle and there's more of you, now what? Are we doomed? Not so fast, there's still hope if your parents have this thing called compassion. 

It seems it's not always narcissism or the little Princess in the family that gests the attention.  We humans, seem to be moved by this little thing called compassion.  Coot birds prefer to feed their weakest chicks so as to give all their chicks an equal chance of survival.  Many humans may treat their weakest child not only equally but favoring them since they are the ones who need the help.  This may ring true with a learning disability or physical disabeled child as a parent will do all we can for all our children to help them thrive.

So as it seems like the "favorite child" would have it made right?  All the glamour of the attention and affection of their parents?  The undenied devotion and constant nagging of their parents for perfection?  As it turns out, being the favorite child is not always the best place to grow up in. Favorites feel so much pressure that turns into a big burden to carry and although being the favorite may boost self esteem and confidence, It may also leave kids with a sense of arrogance and entitlements which turns out is not so good as adults.

What about the "UnFavorite" Children?  I bet they don't have it any better.  It seems as even thought they may grow up wondering if they're unworthy, they do tend to grow up having better relationships as adults. But the bottom line is kids who feel less loved develop anxiety, low self esteem and depression.  As it turns out parents, If you must have a favorite, you need to keep it to yourself.
As a general rule, studies show , the family "Favorite Child" tends to be your first born, the child you have the most in common with, the weakest child who needs more of your assistance, the opposite gender of the parent and also the only son or only daughter.  To be the favorite child is not all fun and games for the one who is or isn't.  Most times the favorite child know their status and keeps quiet about it so it keeps siblings off their backs.   No matter where you are on the "favorite" side of the seesaw, It's hard for favorites with so much expectations from their parents and hard for those who are denied of it.

Can this really be?  In my personal life I have seen it.  I wasn't born last and have five sisters and I didn't have much in common with my mother as a child so we grew up distant.  I have a million times more in common with my mother now as an adult and our relationship is amazing.  With five sisters and one brother you can see our situations were a bit complicated.  I can only imagine how my mother kept up with all of us to even bother with favorites. That was parenting back them.

When I hear the word "Favorite Child", it immediately seems that we may love one child more.  While this is exactly true for some parents, I could not imagine myself feeling this way.  I know, I have seem some mothers proclaim their complete and total love for one child and brush off the other in complete contempt.  I don't know, it's just that some parents are assholes I guess and may have gown up with parents who did this to them too.  You know the chain continues.  Other parents learn from their parents behavior and try to avoid the very things their parents did that hurt them.

I have three daughters so the "uniqueness" rule and "mommy's prince " rule go out the window.  My first born daughter did in fact get a lot of our attention as she was the only child for about six years.  There was no toy she didn't get nor free time of ours she didn't have, she won our hearts and had our attention for a very long time.   Then came our second daughter, a sweetheart from the very beginning.  She won our hearts and is the most daddy girl there ever has been.  From the very beginning we showed our first daughter to share but also that she was still very special as we didn't want her to feel less because of the new baby.  Then comes our third and  is the little one of the family and a bit spoiled I might add.  She is a mommy girl right now no matter how much the daddy wishes she leaned more his way.  Bribes don't work at this age, she only cares for mama .  I like to cry victory over this baby but I know it might not last.  At some point all baby girls will turn into "daddy girls" or at least in my home.  Our children are the biggest blessings we have received and each one is special in their own way.  We have taught them to be fair and  to treat each other as equal.  They have different needs as they are of different age and for that reason they are treated differently but only for that reason.  Responsibilities are different, needs are different but never is anyone better.  This is a very important lesson every child must learn.

My favorite child?… Well, I have Three!  I do have to confess though,  I am kind of a bit of a sucka for the only "Man Boy" of the family but like I should, I will keep this to myself. :)

Lorena Frith

Lifestyle Photographer in Houston, Texas

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