Did Your Parents Have a Favorite Child?



Me and my big brother.


Last week in the Wall Street Journal, an article written by Jennifer Breheny Wallace stated that parents do have a favorite child and offered some suggestions to keep a healthy balance in the family. Her article was called, “That childhood hunch that your parents had a favorite was probably right.”

Here are the first few paragraphs. To read the rest click here.

“In a study published last year in the Journal of Marriage and Family, 75% of mothers admitted to being closer to one adult child. Researchers of a 2005 study observed that 70% of fathers and 74% of mothers demonstrated preferential treatment to one of their children.

Favoritism is as widespread as it is taboo, says Washington, D.C., psychologist Ellen Weber Libby, author of “The Favorite Child.” “Parents need to know that favoritism is normal,” she says, and it exists to some degree in every family. Some parents may prefer a child who is more like them. The favorite can also change over time; a parent may prefer a child in a particular stage, such as an infant or a teenager.”

Parents always deny having a favorite because, in our society, it’s taboo. No one admits to having a favorite child, even if they do.

Growing up, I felt like my mom’s favorite was her son. I don’t know if it was true or not, but he seemed to be the “golden child.” He could do no wrong. Except, I was a better speller. When he was in first grade he missed one spelling word the entire year, “pencil.” My grandma taught me—at age four—to spell P E N C I L out loud and often. Nothing like sibling rivalry egged on by the grown-ups, right?

Now on to my kids. I don’t believe I have a favorite child, but at times in their lives, I was closer to one over the other. The article states that is common and that favoritism is natural. Not good. But it does happen.


My kids with Angus.


I know when my daughter was an infant and had colic—she was not my favorite. As soon as my husband came home from work, I passed her off to him, desperately needing a moment of quiet from the constant cries. He lasted about 20 minutes and passed her back to me and would say, “I can’t take this! I need to get out of here!” Fortunately, the colic ended the day of her baptism and she was easy and fun to be with from that time on. I look back on that day as nothing short of a miracle.

My kids have very different personalities and talents. Like the article said, when my daughter was the swimming star over the weekend, it was then my son’s turn to shine during the week in the classroom. They both got plenty of attention and honors for their accomplishments, although they were unnecessarily jealous and competitive over each other’s strengths. I believe that’s been put aside as they’ve gotten older.

I love both my kids equally. That’s what my mom always told me when I’d ask her who her favorite was. My daughter always says she’s the favorite child.

Do you have a closer relationship with one child over another? Do you believe that your parents had a favorite child?



How could anyone have a favorite child?


2 thoughts on “Did Your Parents Have a Favorite Child?

  1. Wow, this is something to really think of. I don’t think I do, until someone said “Josh has always been your favorite” right in front of my daughter! I didn’t appreciate that comment but maybe I was guilty that’s why I got upset? This is a very interesting article.

    • Thanks for your comment. I remember a mom of one of my childhood friends telling us that one daughter “was the apple of her eye,” in front of all her kids!

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