The Guardian
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Do you have a favourite child?


No parent sets out thinking that they are going to prefer one child to the other or that a particular child would be the favourite, but sometimes it might happen that a parent can connect more with one of their children.

According to Parenting Enthusiast, Mrs. Ogochukwu Adesina, it could be that the child has certain strengths (or even weaknesses) that the parent is drawn to from time to time.These traits or characteristics sometimes mean that you as a parent become more attached to one child than the other.

“In this regard, as much as parents like to think they love all their children equally, a great number of them have that one that they love just a little bit more and this does not mean they love the others less. Sometimes it might be about the birth order or gender. For instance, a first born who has spent more time with the parents can become the one they are more attached to compared to the middle child.

“Other times, it could be a child that reminds the parent of a loved one like a grandparent or close relative or the child could even remind them of themselves (assuming they have towed a path in life that they are proud of). In some patriarchal households, especially in Nigeria, boy children are evidently treated differently. This means that having a favourite child is not always about the child’s ability or inability but could be because of how that child makes the parent feel.”

Mrs. Adesina who is a mum of two said that every child wants to feel secure in their parents’ love and they want to know that they are loved just as equally as their siblings. This means that your child should not have a sense that one of their siblings is the favourite child. Parents should draw the line by ensuring that only one does not continuously enjoy the feeling of being the special or favourite child, while the others observe. Parents need to, at different times, rotate this status among all the children – giving each one a chance to feel special and unique. This creates balance and healthy rivalry among the siblings.

She, however, noted that when a parent clearly and openly shows that one child is preferred to the others and can see that one child is taking full advantage by getting away with things the other children are being held accountable for, then there is definitely an issue that must be addressed.

This type of behaviour from the parent will surely create resentment and criticism among the other children towards the parents. It also hampers the relationship the other children will have with the child that they feel is the favourite one. This usually goes on into their adult life.

Adesina stressed: “I feel that having a favourite child can affect parenting as the parent will find the other children reacting either by acting out or by becoming more withdrawn, as they seek validation from the parents and desire a reassurance of their place in the parents’ heart. This might sound a bit extreme, but the children through observation can learn that it’s alright to treat people differently depending on who they are or what they have to offer.”

While adding that parents need to find the balance on how they treat each child. They should realize that the child does not decide on their gender or genetic makeup and should not be ‘punished’ for these things. Sometimes showing favouritism could be unconscious but then we can check ourselves by thinking about whether one child gets away with a lot more than the others, whether we feel more relaxed and playful around this particular child or have a different expectation of the child and hold them to a different standard (usually lower) than the others. Some of these might be signs that you have a favourite child. “I believe that parenting is a journey and a school, and we must be willing to learn, unlearn and relearn as we strive to become more intentional in our parenting.”

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