Research Claims All Parents Have a Favorite Child

Family Matters on 09.26.11
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Is the age old statement from parents that they don't have a favorite child really a giant lie? The cover story of Time magazine this week claims that all parents have a favorite child because we are hard-wired to do so, and author Jeffrey Kluger who has just come out with a book The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, says that we shouldn't fight science and should accept this as the way it is. But who is most likely to be the favorite child? What are the implications of having a favorite child? And what if I don't think I have one?

Who is the Favorite and Why?

Kluger claims that first born children are most likely to be the favorites because parents invest the most time and energy into them and they tend to be taller and stronger. However, mothers often offer the youngest the most compassion according to Kluger. Kluger suggests that for those of us who aren't the favorite child, accepting that these feelings are primal and cannot be helped should help us come to terms with the fact that maybe there was something irresistible about our sibling and we should not hold it against our parents.

Personally, I really don't think I have a favorite child. I definitely have a child who is easier than the other and that I'm more likely to take to do things, but while I've certainly had much longer to bond with my son, and he was the one to first fulfill my dream of becoming a mother, I adore my daughter's sense of humor and spunk, and always wanted to have a little girl. I don't feel like I could say I love one more than the other, although, I could probably say I love them differently.

I asked some friends who have more than one child if they thought they had a favorite. One who has a boy and a girl said she doesn't and that she gets overwhelmed because she loves them both so much that she doesn't know who to turn to first when they both need something at the same time. She said that she makes a concerted effort to make sure that she gets one on one time with each of them to do their favorite things so they get that special time with her. Another friend who has two boys told me that she definitely has a favorite and so does her husband, but luckily, she says, their favorites are different so everyone is getting plenty of attention.

Other Factors that May Play a Role

I think it's interesting that my friend who also has a boy and a girl and I don't feel that we have a favorite while my friend with two boys does, and it makes me wonder if same gender versus different genders of the children plays a role in this. I suppose I'll have to read Kluger's book to find out. Other factors that I feel would play a role would be if the parents decided to have more than one child just to give their first born a sibling (something that I hear more and more people saying lately) or if one of the children was conceived through fertility treatments or if one child was planned and the other was a surprise.

The fact is that while I think this is an interesting topic, I highly doubt that parents are going to start embracing the phrase, "_____ is my favorite!"

What do you think? Do you have a favorite?

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