Do You Claim To Love All Of Your Children The Same? You’re Lying, Science Says

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My parents once pulled me and my siblings aside individually and told us they had a secret. “You,” they told each of us, “are our favorite child. But don’t tell your siblings.” We held this in for a really long time but eventually it came out and we realized that our parents had lied to us. We confronted them. They responded by laughing really hard for a very long time. For some reason, they thought this was hilarious.

My siblings and I all grew up knowing that our parents loved us greatly. Perhaps they loved us too much — or at least showed a bit too much interest in everything we did! — but we’ve always teased them about which one of us was their favorite.

There’s no question that my mother favors my brother, who she thinks can do no wrong and is the funniest person on the planet. And I frankly think my dad and I have the best relationship. We love going fishing or talking theology (even if we fight more than anyone else). But it’s also true that my sister is the overall favorite. Something about her being the oldest child and also the best one of us, I guess.

Turns out science backs this up! From TIME:

The golden child may be the oldest one, unless it’s the youngest. It may be the toughest one, unless it’s the most sensitive. It’s not even necessary that Mom and Dad have the same favorite — and typically they don’t.

One oft-cited study showed that about 70% of fathers and 65% of mothers exhibit a preference for one child or another. For fathers, it’s most often the youngest girl; for mothers, it’s typically the oldest boy. And remember, the key here is the exhibited preference. Since parents do such a good job of concealing any bias — especially when a scientist is watching — the numbers are almost certainly a good deal higher.

Eh, I don’t know. I mean, I’m positively certain that parents “favor” or are the most protective of the child who caused them the most trouble or drama. I’m not sure whether this is a big deal or not.

And what, really, does “preference” mean? Even in my brief few years with my children, I realize that you spend more time with one child over another depending on what they’re going through. Not that big of a deal, unless you let that preference go on at the expense of the other children.