Do You Love One Child More Than The Other?

favoritism

Can I ask you a question?

I really want you to answer this honestly and I will be honest with you, which of course, you have come to expect by now.

Do you favor one of your kids over the other(s)?  I am not going to judge; I hate when people do it to me and that’s just not our style around here. But I have to say, as I read this piece on babble.com my heart hurt a little bit.

Mother of two (with one on the way) Kate Tietje writes a brutally honest piece about how she thinks she loves her son just a little bit more than her daughter. Kate was sick a lot, right after Bekah’s birth so she didn’t have an opportunity to bond with her daughter right away. The circumstances were very different with her son, Daniel, with whom she had an easier pregnancy/delivery and was able to bond right away.

But there are so many things that were troubling to me about her unflinchingly honest take, the first of which is where Kate chose to air her innermost thoughts. The internet is a vast and wonderful tool but people seem to forget that NOTHING ever goes away here. It’s not like in days of old when a paper shredder or a fire pit was all it took to make things disappear. Bekah, at some point, is going to be able to Google her name or her mother’s and find out how Kate really felt about her, if a classmate doesn’t do it first. Here’s what her mom says…

“The thing is, in the day-to-day life, I find it easier to gravitate towards my son.  I’m more patient with him.  I’m less likely to get angry with him (though I do, if he does something he shouldn’t).  I’m more likely to pick him up and snuggle him, or to get something he asks for quickly.  I’m less patient with my daughter, more likely to fight with her or refuse to get her something for no good reason (which she doesn’t make any easier by literally asking non-stop until I say “Enough! The answer is no!”).  These are really on my worst days though…on my better days, my normal days, I make more effort to try to be fair to both.”

When Bekah sees this, she will go back and replay much of her childhood, processing things that didn’t make sense then, through the prism of her mother’s written word. Do you think Bekah will wonder what was wrong with her that her mother couldn’t love her as much as she did her brother? Will it affect her budding self-esteem, setting Bekah on a path of people pleasing behavior? And can Kate hide her true feelings when dealing with her daughter or do they seep into their interactions in the subtlest ways? Of course, it’s possible these concerns will be unfounded and Bekah grows into a healthy, whole adult.

Kate also said “There are moments – in my least sane and darkest thoughts – when I think it wouldn’t be so bad if I lost my daughter, as long as I never had to lose my son (assuming crazy, dire, insane circumstances that would never actually occur in real life).  I know that sounds completely awful and truly crazy.

After a bruising response from the public, Kate published a follow-up to further flesh out some of what she was saying. In that piece she wrote about the relationship with her own mother; how she favored Kate’s brother growing up. By favoring her own son, is Kate furthering a family pattern that should have been buried but instead will live on in her own daughter?

Though I don’t understand it, I admire Kate being truthful about how she feels.  I’m not naïve; I know there are women who, for whatever reason, favor one of their children over the other(s).  But why verbalize to strangers on the web? Would it not be better for all parties if this were kept between her and a therapist? I write a lot about my own children, but I wouldn’t dream of putting something so utterly soul-crushing out there for them to accidentally stumble upon. Kate, as you can well imagine, has taken quite a beating over this and in her second piece, she said this to those who posted in response to the first one.

It probably struck a little too close to home for many of you…you’ve had those same thoughts about one or more children in your darkest, most private times…and found it obscene to see your own worst thoughts out in the light of day.”

Nope, not me Kate and that’s not a brag but a statement of fact.

Casey and Cole have both accused me in the past of favoring the other one. Of course, it was typically when they were on the losing end of an argument. I have different ways of DEALING with them, as they are different children. But I am as sure of this as the day is long; I do NOT love one more than the other. I wish the best for Kate, Bekah, Daniel and this new baby she’s going to deliver later this year. Maybe things will get easier. Maybe she and Bekah will develop an easier relationship and maybe Kate will understand that sometimes things are better left unsaid.

But what do you think? Should Kate have written that she loved one of her kids more than the other? Did you grow up in a situation like Kate’s or are you a parent who feels that way now? Start sharing everyone…

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com . When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.

25 Comments

  1. Smarty P. Jones

    March 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Wow, this is bananas. My two brothers and I have a running joke that I’m the youngest, but my sister is the baby. Throughout our childhood, we always accused one or the other of us of being the favorite. Now that I’m older, I think it was just my mom loving us each in the way that we needed most.

    I sit here honestly believing in my heart of hearts that my sister needed that extra attention she got as a kid and so did my brothers. I was pretty much left to my own devices and I often joke that I pretty much raised myself. Oddly enough, the way our mom raised us directly lines up with how our lives played out. It’s uncanny. Moms have eyes in the back of their heads and I swear a third eye that sees into the future.

    I’m also a believer that moms love their sons and actually raise their daughters. It’s the job of the mom to show her daughter how to go through life successfully. If she doesn’t spoil or coddle her daughter, she’s teaching her to be independent. Some may not agree, but that’s what I see. By spoiling and coddling her son, she’s just making it harder on his future girlfriends and wife. Lord knows, there’s a woman or two I’d like to rough up for making their sons believe they are princes.

    If there’s any beef on my part, it’s simply the way it’s worded. I seriously hope she doesn’t favor one over the other. If so, that is a sad state of affairs and I feel sorry for the resentment her daughter will likely build toward her.

  2. The Broke Socialite

    March 16, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Is this a tad Oedipan? *furls brow* I’m not a mother in the traditional sense but even this stepmom knows Kate’s sentiments are hurtful. As one of two daughters, I recognize that mine and my sister’s relationships with our parents are different…it’s always been that way. It never dawned on me to think that one of us was more loved than the other. Very sad, GEM. Very sad.

  3. Irene

    March 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I have to agree with you here G.e.m. I wonder more about how the children will feel if they ever find this out.

    Sounds like the mom was reaching out in a way…trying to maybe understand herself~maybe possibly trying to get validation for something that needs to be fixed I don’t know. Nonetheless I hope this is a learning moment for this mom and she can get a grip on this and break what looks like a roadblock to a relationship with her daughter.

    I have 8 kids, a blended family of his, mine and ours, and while every child in our house is different and different things work with different kids…I just don’t think at the end of the day I could or would even want my life with one of them not in it…or favoring one over the other.

  4. Donna Nash Williams

    March 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    I think naturally a woman bonds with a son in a different way that may seem like deeper to most, especially as the children get older. Girls sometimes can have clashes that are based on same gender issues…I love both my children, but my son is my SUGAR boy!

  5. Andrea

    March 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Smarty — I had to laugh at your comments about how moms treat sons differently. My son is the youngest, of three (two older sisters). And SOOOOO often, when he and i are going through the 12th iteration of him “cleaning” the bathroom), I think, “I am not wasting one more minute of my youth on this — let his future wife figure this out…”

    To your question, Rene, you’re right. Some feelings should just go with you to your grave. What in the wide, wide world of sports was she thinking?

    Love your site, btw.

    -A

  6. Jodi @ Rants n' Rascals

    March 17, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Okay being brutally honest because you asked for it, this was hard for me to read for two reasons: 1 because I have felt the way this mother has felt between my son and myself and have spoken about not being close to him. He is a special needs child with Asperger’s and on my blog I talk about our closeness and not closeness and feeling closer to my older child.

    So in that respect I have to say this mom is airing feelings, yes to strangers but sometimes that is always easier and sometimes it’s not. She may just need to tell someone, even her readers and in honesty none of us are perfect parents.

    I have never said I loved one child more than the other because I’m not sure if that’s possible. I think it’s possible to love your kids differently because they are different in nature and it can be misinterpreted as loving one more than the other.

    I do agree it might be hurtful for a child to read things like this later on in life, again though in my opinion I think that depends on whatever honesty is shared between mother and child.

    I’m always honest with my kids about my feelings and never blog anything I would tell or share with them face to face about them. It’s a tough call, and would be interesting to see if she can mend this relationship with her daughter.

    I will say also finally as a child who always felt a non closeness with my mother and jealous of her relationship with my brothers, now that I’m older I realize how very close my mom wanted to be to me, in fact she yearned it. She didn’t love my brothers more, just had a harder time connecting with me. Now we are best friends.

  7. Nikki Newman

    March 17, 2011 at 7:02 am

    I will just say that I agree that this really should not have been shared on the internet. I honestly cannot imagine loving one child more than another; I have one, but can imagine having a second and that although they may be very different little human beings, the foundation of love I’d feel for each one would not differ. I suggest Kate devote some time to working through past family stuff and bonding with her little girl so that things are better from now on in, especially with another little one on the way.

  8. Be On It

    March 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Hmmm, this was something that should have been in a journal, or said to a therapist. Airing it out on the internet was not the best way for her to work through these feelings.

    And frankly, as the daughter of a mother who loved two of her sons more, I can say that children already know which children are loved more, which are the favorites, and which ones get the short end of the stick. And yes, there is a difference between being the favorite and being lvoed more. It’s something you can sense, and while parents may think that they are disguising these feelings or being fair or treating each child differently because they have different personalities, I think parents are much less successful with doing that than they are willing to admit.

  9. Kara

    March 18, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Oh, Bekah WILL find this piece her mother wrote. And she will need many thousands of dollars of therapy to deal with it.

    What was Kate thinking, publishing this for the world to see?!

  10. Sang Duong

    March 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Interesting. Bekah is likely to read this excerpt and feel lots of hatred towards her mother at some point, if she does not feel it already!

    When I was a kid, my father openly told friends of his that he possessed a “different” kind of love for me than my siblings. I was the outcast….I was never allowed to read my father books as my siblings were…I was not given quality time and was told to stay in my room unless I was needed for work. I also spent 10 years of my life NEVER speaking to my father until my mother passed away…then he thought apologizing to me would make it all better. I am now faced with an interesting situation….he is dying and wants ME to take care of everything. Honestly, I am a bit distraught about it all :(

  11. Peppercorn16

    March 20, 2011 at 12:16 am

    It’s never good to favor one child over the other it causes them to resent the parents and it may cause the kid to forever hate each other and do damage to each. Parents without knowing sometimes will say things that kids notice like”U should be more like your sister or brother. And when telling kids u love them parents shouldn’t say I love you to one then say I love you “TOO” to the other. Maybe parents shouldn’t used the word “Too” when telling their kids they love them it sounds like the one who’s getting told u love after the first comes in second. Parents shouldn’t compare siblings to each other when it comes to grades,talents and looks. My siblings and I share the same mother BUT I would NEVER call my sisters my half sisters, my mother says that’s terrible even if it’s true never used that word “Half’ she says it soumds like your making a point to let others know you share one parent.

  12. jodifur

    March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am

    That post made me so mad. I really think it was just babble whoring for traffic. And the fact that someone wrote that using real names so their child could find it one day? Not EVERYTHING needs to be online. And I’m very open online, but that was just sad.

  13. Nikki

    April 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    After having only 1 wonderful son for 7 1/2 yrs I couldn’t imagine, loving another, but when the second son came I loved him as much as I’d loved the 1st. I think that the love felt for all 3 of my sons is the universal love of a mother, meaning, I”m happy when they’re are happy, I’m hurt when they’re hurt, I want only the best for them, I’d never let any1 harm them, if I could help it, & I easily give my life for any or all of them, the love felt for the children I carried for 10 months is almost unconsciounable, however I do interact with them differently based on their ages, their likes & dislikes & their needs. One is more “huggy-Kissy” than the other two, it doesn’t mean I love him more I just express it differently, the other two get hugged & kissed,but they prefer being verbally complimented. I try to also individualize my love to them by telling them things like you’re my favorite Doob(nickname) in the whole wide world, & it’s true or you’re my favorite 8 yr old in the whole world, also true. I’m saddened that a mother could feel this way, but even more so like Renee said that you could arbitrarily share this with complete strangers on the internet, some things are best “taken to the grave” for the sake of raising children who will have a fighting chance at being healthy adults.

  14. Kathi

    April 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    What a heartbreaking thing to think about. The ‘correct’ answer is that I love each and every one of my kids unconditionally and the same. You asked me to be honest, though. I’ve always known that my middle child is, . . . unique. He knows just how to push my buttons, and believe me – he uses that knowledge! My other two are clones of me, it seems. They’re easy-going, fun, playful – like Labrador puppies. My middle one? He’s moody, broody, requires extra urging for everything from being told to clean his room to getting to school on time. He doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word ‘no’ as he keeps asking the same question over and over when he gets that response. Basically, as I tearfully admitted to my spouse a few months back, I love him dearly, but sometimes I don’t *like* him.

    I’m sure most of it is me – whether due to the way I grew up, or how my siblings treated me, or whatever. So maybe my answer isn’t that I love him less or the others more, but that the bonding I feel with his siblings is firmer.

    Sigh.

  15. Rene Syler

    April 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    @Kathi: You point out what this is about. The fact isn’t that you love one more or less, but that you love them differently. I think it would only be natural for us as mothers and humans to gravitate to situations that require less work. Heck we’re tired! When you have to beg and plead to get something done, it’s exhausting. But as you said, it’s not about more or less as much as different. I want to think that the woman who wrote the post really meant LIKE instead of love as I think we can all relate to liking kids (and adults) more or less at different times.

  16. S. Renee

    April 23, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Bad move to write this article, period. Our job is to love our children and tend to them. Period. She was wrong to air those thoughts in public. I agree that she should have kept her feelings to herself on this one.

    For the most part, it is NOT about us, but about our children. Yes – We have to find moments for ourselves, let some things go, find time for ourselves, etc., but the job of parent in my opinion is quite often, to put our kids and their needs first. I feel very sad for her children – all of them…I hope that the writer of that article has a change of heart and moves forward with a special love for each of her children – an equal, individualized special love.

  17. ellen

    April 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I am the mother of four children; one daughter, three sons. While I do think this lady has some psychological issues she needs to deal with, I also feel that some of it, as others have said, is a gender issue. I definitely have a different kind of relationship with my daughter than with my sons. DD can get under my skin like none of the boys can. BUT, she is also the only one who wants to keep me company in the kitchen. She’s the only one who openly shares her dreams and hopes for her life. Maybe Kate just hasn’t discovered her daughter’s particular gifts yet.

    I also think that with each child I have had there was that time when the baby was the most special. They’re sweet and never impudent. You don’t have to discipline them. There is a tendency to ‘like’ them better if that’s the right word. But that feeling doesn’t last. I think it’s a little bit hormonal and a little bit situational…all stages in life are different. When one child is going through a difficult stage you appreciate the simplicity of the other child. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with that.

  18. Shasha

    May 1, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Wrong ,wrong ,.wrongest of wrong to put this out in the public arena.Protecting your kids is number one priority.I think seeing as though she is aware of this she should be trying to work on it(privately), whereas to me as seems as if she almost has embraced it, she probably sees it as no big deal seeing as though it happened to her?

  19. Jackie

    May 5, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Wow. I am so disappointed that a mom would put this in writing. On the internet. Ugh. What was she thinking? I have two children and they are like night and day. For real. They are 9 & 13 now and have been their very own (and very different from each other) person since the day they were born. They have actually accused their dad and I of “loving the other one more” when (like you said) they are at the losing end of an argument. We’ve often had family discussions about this at the dinner table about how punishments are different for them both because they are completely different people. They’ll say things like “you always yell at me and never at her” and things like that. We always make sure that there is no doubt that we love them both “this much” and wouldn’t trade either of them for the world. Isn’t that the promise we make when we become a parent?

  20. Andrea

    May 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I believe that every parent has a favorite. Simply because the parent has a different relationship with each child. Certain circumstances can arise to ignite the parent to exhibit different behaviors e.g. One child is more obedient, respectful, or doesnt cause parents alot of trouble. Also, if there are generational behaviors, such as Kate that trigger behaviors. I believe she is bitter or cynical towards her mother for her to say those awful things. Typical parents, as stated before have favorites but I do not think they love one more than another. (My thoughts)

  21. Ceci

    May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    The Tietjes are fundamentalist Christians and publicly subscribe to very traditional beliefs about gender roles. Perhaps Kate subconsciously resents being shoehorned into the role of stay-at-home mom and is venting her frustration on her daughter.
    I don’t understand Kate’s description of herself as a “modern alternative mama.” While I like the fact that she has thrown off some of the more negative aspects of post-industrial society (e.g. processed foods), I think many of her views are simply bizarre. Her lack of patience toward her daughter seems to be at odds with her self-described Christian beliefs. I see her as a throwback, not an alternative.

  22. Samantha Sophia

    May 12, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Gasp, um this is a little intense. I am pregnant in my second and I can’t imagine loving my son more or less than my first born daughter! Though I do understand having maybe different kinds of relationships with each individual child. Because each has their own personality!

  23. Patti P

    July 8, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I am sad for that little girl. I grew up in a house like that. My younger sister was the favorite and I was often ignored and treated poorly. It caused a rift in my relationship with my sister that I have never been able to mend.

    However, there are days when I find myself more affectionate to one child then another, depending on their mood and on individual circumstances. My youngest is still a baby so he gets much more cuddle time than the older ones do. But I always make an effort to hug and kiss them too. I think all of my kids are amazing and wonderful in different ways.
    I agree that even if you feel that way the internet is not the place to share that.

  24. Anaconda

    May 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Is said to see the author of this website is so naive as to think they never have ‘dark thoughts’. We all do, it doesnt make us a bad person.

  25. Rene Syler

    May 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    @Anaconda: Nope the author of this website (um, yeah that would be me), just would never put it in writing for their kid to stumble upon while doing a term paper. And just to clarify, this is what I said, “Though I don’t understand it, I admire Kate being truthful about how she feels. I’m not naïve; I know there are women who, for whatever reason, favor one of their children over the other(s). But why verbalize to strangers on the web? Would it not be better for all parties if this were kept between her and a therapist? I write a lot about my own children, but I wouldn’t dream of putting something so utterly soul-crushing out there for them to accidentally stumble upon. Kate, as you can well imagine, has taken quite a beating over this and in her second piece, she said this to those who posted in response to the first one.”
    Thanks for your comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>