Admitting you have a favorite child is probably one of the greatest parenting taboos and cause of much debate. Most parents will vehemently deny it, while others don’t seem to mind shamelessly confessing they like one kid more than the others. When they do, they usually get accused of being a bad parent for saying such a horrible thing. But, does admitting you like one child better really mean he/she is your favorito? It depends.
I think we have to look at a few things here. I believe that some parents definitely have favorites and, when they do, it is quite obvious. These are the parents that pour most of their affection, attention, and money into one child and basically treat the others like second class citizens. Well, at least that’s how they feel; when there truly is a favorite, the other kids will notice and it makes them feel less important.
The truly favorite child is praised more often, gets more of the parent’s time, receives better gifts and opportunities, and his/her needs or preferences always go before those of their siblings, regardless of birth order. The parent will defend them even if they’re wrong because they can do no harm. They will also gush about them to anyone who will listen, even in the presence of the other kids. This child grows up feeling special and the others grow up feeling resentful. This is unabashed favoritism.
However, I don’t believe that liking certain things about one of your children, recognizing their special qualities or having a special affinity with them necessarily means they are your favorite. As long as you are fair, treat them equally, and don’t rub your preferences in anyone’s face, it is perfectly normal to like one more than the others at times.
I have three kids, ages 18, 9, and 8. Saying they have totally different personalities is an understatement. The same way we are drawn to people and begin friendships or relationships with them because we “click”, we can have more in common or like some of the personality traits of one child more than another. I appreciate it and find it very endearing when my kids are affectionate, respectful, helpful, and considerate towards me. That makes me feel good and makes me like them. A lot. But it isn’t always the same child who displays good behavior or a sunny disposition, so my “favoritism” varies depending on their behaviors and attitudes.
Sometimes kids go through bouts of behavioral issues and it’s somewhat hard to like them when they are acting like a demon child. When that happens with one of my children, I find myself liking the others more. And there are also days when they all act up and I honestly don’t like any of them that much. But I resist the urge of packing a little bag and running away from home because I love them. And my heart never plays favorites – I love them all the same, all the time, whether I like them best or not.