Olga Levancuka

A Family-Oriented Lifestyle Blog

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Parenting Without Favorites

As soon as you have your first child, you know instantly that they are your entire world. They are the most important thing in your life that you just can’t live without, and everything you do ultimately revolves around them. But if you are blessed enough to have a second child, or a third child, or even a fourth child, the way you view all of your children together changes drastically. When your kids get older, it often becomes an unspoken question of sorts regarding who your “favorite kid” is. And if that sort of question is ever tossed your way, the most common response is to say something along the lines of “I have no favorites” (even if that isn’t entirely true).

And if that is truly how you feel, then you are in great shape, and in all honesty don’t need to read this article. However, for the majority of parents, the simple fact of the matter is that they do have favorites. It is just something that happens, based largely on how the parents jive with each child personality-wise. In fact, it also depends just as much on the parent themselves, which is clearly evident in the numerous examples of parents who have different favorite kids (meaning that the mom likes one child more, and the dad likes another child more).

Although having favorites is almost unavoidable, what you can avoid doing is parenting your children differently based on who you favor more. Doing so can severely degrade not just your less-favored child’s relationship with you, but their relationship with the more-favored child, especially if such behavior extends beyond the early years of your children’s lives.

The first step when it comes to parenting your children equally is to ensure that everything you give to your children equally. IN other words, if you give your favorite child a chocolate bar, make sure to give your less-favored child an identical chocolate bar (or alternatively split the bar so that each child gets an equal half). Or if you are giving your less-favored child some candy, make sure that you don’t subconsciously give your favorite child slightly more candy later on in the day. Children are very perceptive of such slights, and although they may not think much of it at first, over time they will quickly realize that you are favoring their sibling over them, in small but subtle ways.

Kids are also fairly good at perceiving different treatment, even if such treatment is done years apart. For example, if the older sibling gets a bad score on a test and is more or less coddled by his or her parents, but the younger sibling gets a significant scolding for a similarly bad score a few years down the line, they will see this as clear evidence that their older sibling is being favored. To combat this unconscious bias, you need to make sure that everything you remains in line with how you want to be as a parent. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be tough on your kids, or have to be easy on them either, but rather that you have to remain consistent with your general parenting style. As long as you know how you want to parent, all you have to do is make sure that your child gets the appropriate response when they do something bad (or even good), no matter where they sit on the favoritism totem pole.

Parenting is implicitly about the relationships you have with your children. Because of this, having favorites is not only natural, but fairly common as a whole. However, so long as you can distance yourself from the individual relationships you have with each of your children, and instead focus on the kind of parent you want to be as a whole, you will have no problem at all raising your children equally, no matter which one may be your ultimate favorite.