Do ALL Parents Love One Child More?

I recently read an article by one of my favorite mom bloggers Lisa Belkin of the New York Times, called Do All Parents Love One Child More.  I couldn’t help but carefully scan each line hoping to find the truth…AND… to find out if parents would actually admit to this.

In her article she breaks down the arguments of  the TIME Magazine article: Why Mom Liked You Best. The Science Behind Favoritism. The author, Jeffrey Kluger, says that ALL, and that is ALL (very bold statement) parents have a favorite.  He basically studied 400 sets of parents and their children over three years and concluded that “65 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers exhibited a preference for once child, usually the older one.”  As Lisa so brilliantly pointed out..this is not ALL parents.

Kluger then went further to compare humans to animal kingdom and our innate selfish need to see our own genes live on, and the whole survival of the fittest thing.  Meaning I assume, you would prefer the strongest child?  Nope, wrong again.

Lisa points out that his arguments is very contradicting showing evidence for a whole mix of favoritism scenarios.  Dad’s like sons, mom’s like daughters, parents like the child who’s most or least like them.  They may prefer the strong charismatic child, or they feel like they must nurture the weak child.  The only daughter or only son is another common favorite.  Any which way, it seems there is no clear scientific formula for favoritism as the author initially implied.

So I was prompted to call my own mother to get to the bottom of this.  I was really routing for the oldest is the favorite theory (being the oldest child of course).  “Mom, I read an article today and it said ALL parents have favorite…I just wanted to confirm that I was yours.”  Pause…waiting for confirmation.  She laughed on the other end and said “Yes of course I had favorites, it just depended on the moment.  And on who was asking for what.”  Having 5 kids and no help, I think my mom spent most of the 80’s and early 90’s in a child induced zombie survival like state, I don’t she couldn’t have had a favorite if she tried.  But, her stiff upper lip British upbringing may have hid any favoritism she had so props to you mom.  I can officially say I am free of emotional scarring from being or not being your favorite.

I really think it would be hard to get a real answer on this question.  Do I think a lot of parents have favorites…yes.  I also don’t think many parents are willing to admit that to themselves.  But I think most parents would agree there isn’t a limited supply of love that must be rationed between children.   The bottom line is each relationship with your children is different and unique, so your feelings towards each child will be different and unique, and different doesn’t mean better.   Lisa eloquently sums up the real challenge here.

“It’s easy to take sides and announce “I love my children equally” or confess “I think I love one more.” What’s hard is accepting that relationships are fluid, determined by the ever-changing variables that make a child (and a parent) who they are at any given moment. Those ups and downs, imbalances and inequities, are not something to overcome, but rather realities to be accepted. We treat them differently because they ARE different. Navigating that reality is the key to being a parent.”


What do you think?  Do ALL Parents Love One Child More? Leave us a comment below.

Responses to "Do ALL Parents Love One Child More?"

  1. Diane September 30, 2011 at 2:29 am

    The truth is how can I not love each child for who they are! Especially, since as a parent I’m responsible for creating that child. Each child is wonderful and unique and plays an important role in the family. That’s not to say that I like everything about them all the time or everything they do and say and frankly I think they’d say the same thing about me. But in the end there is nothing more important then my husband and each of my children! Do I have a favorite….absolutely. It’s the one I’m with at any given moment.

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