Aleteia

Is it okay to have a “favorite” child?

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It’s important to strike the right balance and develop a special relationship with each of your kids.

If you ask parents if they have a preference for one of their children, they’ll very likely reply, “Of course not! We love all of our children the same. They’re all special in their own way.”

And yet, if every parent asked themselves about their reactions — positive and negative — to each of their children, they might become aware that they really do have some preferences. For, while insisting on their (real) love, they sometimes let slip remarks that, while not meant to be unkind, are significant. For instance, a parent may innocently say, “This one here takes after my side of the family; that one there is just like my mother-in-law.” Comments like that perhaps signs of a different relationship with each of their children — who are bound to be affected by it.

The “unloved” complex

Because of this, even when parents strongly deny it, children quickly become convinced that their mom and dad have favorites. And siblings can then become deeply divided. Jealousies surface, especially when you add other causes into the mix such as the talent of one, the sporting success of another, a new little arrival in the family who monopolizes all the parents’ attention. This is when a complex of feeling unloved is born!

This is also why, right from the start, it’s important for parents to be constantly aware of their feelings. Why not recognize that one child is cuter, that another has the knack of sometimes being a pest, that a third is especially admired because in some way they fulfill their parents’ dreams? Or perhaps another, through a disability or illness, arouses such solicitude that there is a particular attachment? Denial is the most dangerous stance to take.

Show each child that they’re special

Once a parent has recognized their little preferences, they should take a look at the strengths and beauty of each child. We must never forget that every child would like to be the favorite. And if he isn’t, he’ll think he is unloved.

Fortunately, parents are capable of loving their children as though each were their favorite. It’s important to show each child that they are unique, different from their brothers and sisters: “You are a ruby, you the emerald, you, a sapphire, etc.” The secret is simply to avoid telling one of them that they are the diamond.

Denis Sonet

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