Should Parents Play Favorites?

Most parents at some time or another will feel that they prefer (at that moment in time) one child to another.  Sometimes the preference comes out of differences or similarities between the parent and child. A child may have an easier going temperament or like the same things the parent likes...hence they feel more "simpatico". Another cause of favoritism has more to do with the developmental stage that child is in. Some moms prefer babies who are dependent and cuddly and easier to control, while other moms prefer adolescents who are more adult-like to talk with and able to care for themselves.  This means which child you prefer change and shift over time.

While its normal to feel preferences it's not good to demonstrate actual favoritism. It hurts self esteem and also increases sibling rivalry. It can definitely have lasting effects which are painful.

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Denying you have such feelings only raises the likelihood you will unwittingly act on them. It is best to be honest with yourself but then try to figure out why you feel this in the first place. It is helpful to make note of all your children's strengths and weaknesses and compliment their strengths.  At the same time you must provide ways to cope with their weaknesses. All humans have their pluses and minuses, and by being realistic you can help your kids improve their lives by playing to their strengths and figuring out ways to manage their weaknesses

Make sure you reinforce the fact that you both like and love all your children and that love is not something concrete (like a piece of pie with a finite number of pieces).  There is plenty to go around for all!

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