Dealing with Favoritism in the Family

Many persons who might have tried hard being fair with their children and in treating them equally, find themselves favoring one child over the other.

Favoritism, according to Irving Bieber, a clinical professor at the New York Medical College, adversely affects both the ignored child and the preferred child.

The preferred child might want to see why he was chosen and may even feel guilty because his brothers and sisters are being deprived of their fair share of parental love because of him.  On the other hand, the ignored child will also want to know why he was not favored.  Consequently, he might develop an inferiority complex and may harbor ill feelings towards the favored sibling.

One author seems to have expressed pessimism over the efforts done at solving favoritism in the family when she says:  “What parent can honestly ignore the fact that one of her children may be physically more attractive, a better student, or a more outstanding athlete or performer than his other siblings?’

Dr. Lee Salk, a clinical professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at the New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center, speaking why a parent favors one child over another, says:  “There’s no way a parent can love all her children exactly the same because they are all different human beings and inevitable elicit different reactions from us.”

In solving the problem of favoritism, experts say that parents must “accept each child as a unique human being” and “love and respect him for his distinctiveness.”  How this can be done is illustrated by one mother:  “I love one of my girls for her sensitivity, creativity, and kindness; the other for her lively wit, energy and her perseverance at school.  They are completely different from one another, but I love them both.”

Here are some tips to parents in dealing with favoritism.  The focus is more on the ignored child.

  • Try to understand this child’s world.  Spending time alone with this child will help you see the youngster with special needs, thoughts, and desires.
  • Find mutual areas of enjoyment.  Do things together to build positive experiences with one another.  The good times you’ve shared will help both of you overcome the more difficult parts of your relationship.
  • Get the perspective of a perspective of a third party.  A teacher, a relative or family friend can give useful insights as they can see facets of a child’s personality you don’t see.
  • Share something of yourself with that child.  “The key to getting closer your child lies only in discovering and honoring his interests but allowing him to glimpse yours. 


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  1. Good choice of topic. It is a good idea to find common ground with each of your children, allow them to be themselves and love them for themselves.

  2. Though as parents we need to shower our love equally and impartially to all of our children, sometimes, we have to focus our attention more on a child just because he or she needs our attention more because she or he is too young to do anything independantly; perhaps suffering from any acute illness; perhaps born as physically impaired and so on and so forth.Of course, the children too may understand it as they grow.But we need to be impartial when we bequeath our movable or immovable properties in favour of them.Even then, sometimes, we may be forced to show our favouritism in favour a child, when she or he has little resources at her or his disposal.So we are forced to show favouritism among our children depending upon the circumstances we are in.But we do not wantonly do it.Thanks for sharing a thought provoking article.

  3. Excellent topic.. And yes, so true. There is always favoritism especially if you have a younger brother or sister. Parents will deny it though but if you feel it then it is true. actions do speak louder than words.

  4. Very insightful and full of sound advice.

  5. i do agree the fact that all the kids couldn’t be provided the same amount of attention but what actually does happen is the parent’s themselves remain unaware of the fact that they are favoring one while ignoring the other.At times the preferred one starts expecting more and more while the other one starts feeling depressed.In most of the family it’s either the elder or the younger one who is provided with special previliges .

  6. i grew up as a middle child who was a least favorite. my aunt used to send my two sisters lots of christmas presents on christmas send me none. she took both of my sisters on nice trips including two trips to hawaii. my parents were fine with it being a little kid and all i felt jealous like id done something wrong. it went on with my entire family as well i was sometimes unwelcomed to spend christmas with them. i ended up in foster care and group homes. im 20 and im still very much rejected by my family lived on and off from 8-14 been 6 complete years though now lots of other stuff went on with me between now and then though its hard .my only advice parents do not show favortism.

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