Childrearing

Knowing I Wasn’t My Mom’s Favorite Kid Still Haunts Me

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mom-scolding-sonWe all have favorites. Personally, I am a fan of milk chocolate, but dark chocolate? Not so much. I mean, I will eat it and enjoy it, because it is chocolate after all. But even as I devour the last speck of chocolatey goodness, a little part of my heart leans towards milk chocolate. Apparently the same is true of parents and their kids, as I discovered after reading a recent article on having a favorite child. And while I understand that it may be completely natural to be drawn more to one child than another, I still think you should do everything you possibly can to nip that in the bud. Because if you don’t, you’re kids will know, and it will hurt.

I speak from experience on this point. I am one of three children, with a brother and sister whom I get along with very well. However, it was apparent to me from a young age that I was definitely not my mother’s favorite. In fact, while my brother and sister may have traded places in my mother’s book at times, I was that most disheartening of things. I was my mother’s least favorite. I am not saying that she did not love me – she absolutely did. But there is a huge difference between love and like, and there were many times throughout my childhood when it was clear that she did not like me as much as she liked my brother and sister.

Now, before people start shouting that their situation is different, and that they would never let their children know who their favorite is, let me explain that it was nothing that my mother consciously did. She did not lock me in a broom closet Harry Potter-style while my siblings basked in the sunshine. She never used the “why can’t you be more like your sister/brother” refrain and sighed her disappointment in me. There was nothing so blatant. Still, my siblings and I could all tell. Kids are more observant than you may think.

There was the way she always rationalized their behavior. It’s not that my brother and sister could do no wrong in my mother’s eyes. No, they certainly did. But when they did act out or say something nasty, she always justified it with a complex reason. It could be that my sister was not happy about her looks so she compensated by being overly critical of others, or that my brother was once cut from the baseball team and so felt he needed to prove himself. No matter how deeply I was hurt by their words or actions, it felt like to my mother, whatever angst had caused my brother or sister’s actions was more important than how I felt about it.

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