A Huffington Post article about favoritism took me back in time today. The article starts off by telling parents that It’s OK to have a favorite child, but goes on to warn parents against blatant favoritism. As a former favorite child, I have to agree. Not only do the children who aren’t the favorite get damaged, but so does the favorite child.
My mother had good reasons to unashamedly bestow me this honor. I was her birth child, and her only naturally born daughter in a large mixed family. Out of the children she gave birth to, I was the most cooperative, with a need to please. It didn’t hurt that I was also her carbon copy.
At first she did her best to not show that I was her favorite. In fact, she made great pains to treat us all equally. After all, she didn’t want to alienate her step children. Still, when there was strife in the family and lines were drawn, I was pulled over to her side whether I liked it or not. As I came into my teen years, she actually apologized for not showing me more love and attention in my younger years. She began taking me with her whenever she left the house and always giving me special treats. She began buying me gifts including Valentines day gifts that were not purchased for other children. She complimented my hard work ethic regularly and constantly compared my schoolwork to that of a sibling who did not do as well in school. She even went on vacation and left me in charge even though I was not the oldest… not even the second oldest. Her reasoning was that I was reliable.
Whether she had good reason to treat me more favorably or not, I still suffer the consequences today. As a teenager, I was often alienated from my siblings. If they were angry with her for any reason, they would ignore me or take out their aggressions on me. They were angry with her a lot. I became a loner due to this situation, and to this day I still isolate myself from people I should have a close relationship with such as siblings and good friends. I grew up being alone in a house full of people, and so I have a special talent for withdrawing even in a crowd.
Even though my mother has passed on, and so have some of my siblings, I still regret having been treated differently than the other children. Being resented by siblings, is an terrible experience for a child of any age.
I don’t have bitter feelings toward my mother for her actions. I like to say she did the best she could with what she knew. She made mistakes, but she also raised children who I think she would be proud of. She also loved the other children unconditionally, and spoiled the younger children thoroughly, regardless of her special affection for me. In fact, when she was on her death bed, she requested to spend more time with the child with whom she had always bumped heads with. (Maybe I wasn’t her favorite after all!)
So I write this not to criticize my mother, who did her best, but to warn parents to be careful about showing favoritism to a child. I can actually have a paralyzing effect as they grow older. I’m not a social cripple or anything, but feel I am less connected to family because I was shown favor during my teen years.
Were you a favorite child?
Do you feel it was a positive or negative experience?
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