In a family with two or more children, it is not uncommon for parents to pick their favorite. Paying more attention to an infant over a toddler is reasonable but not so after children have developed their senses and begin to observe the difference in the way they are treated. ‘TIME’ magazine had run an article on this ‘How Parents Who Play Favorites Hurt the Entire Family’ (Link: http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/12/how-parents-who-play-favorites-hurt-the-entire-family/)
|Image courtesy: Psychology Today|
The favorite child who receives special attention, care and praises, may not get the special treatment outside their family, so it would increase their dependency on their parents. On the other side, the one who does not get attention grows independent of parents but suffers emotional issues and become less empathetic. ‘Psychology Today’ (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-narcissus-in-all-us/200901/when-parents-play-favorites) explains how preferring one child over another leads to toxic family relationships and sibling resentments. It becomes clear that every kid loses when parents play favorites.
Sigmund Freud (in his book ‘Beyond the Pleasures Principle’) explains how the experiences in the formative years of personality haunt everyone throughout their life. An adult would long for what he/she did not have in childhood, not just materialistic things but the emotional parameters such as care, love and attention too. A dent in the childhood is not easy to erase and the cycle of longing would repeat. A solution for this is clear communication, but all the children may not be able to effectively communicate to reveal what is going on their mind. So they suffer observing the subtle differences in the way they are treated while parents may not have wished to make this impact.
In a traditional family, parents share their responsibility in child upbringing, father takes care of financial needs and mother provides emotional support. So it appears mothers have a higher share in shaping the psychology of their kids. Mothers beware, when you favor one children over another, communicate clearly the rationality behind it. Else, yours will not grow to be a happy family.