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The GEM Debate: Do You Have A Favorite Child?


Oh gosh, I HATE this story. Hate.Hate.HATE it! Here we go again with the “parents like one child more than another” debate. In his book, The Sibling Effect, author Jeffrey Kluger, says 95 percent of parents have a favorite child and the other 5 percent are lying. Oh yeah?

Cole stopped mid-chew to listen to Today Show host Ann Curry breathlessly read the tease. My baby boy has always maintained that Casey is my favorite child, especially after he’s done something that results in me correcting his bad behavior. Casey, though she’s never said so, might feel this as well. It reminds me a bit of when I was a news anchor and I’d get calls from Republicans and Democrats during elections, accusing me of supporting the other side, sure of it because of the barely perceptible but definite “gleam in your eye” when talking about the other side.

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, I don’t think this is a healthy thing to be talking about outside of a therapist’s office yet in this day and age of over-sharing, people seem quite comfortable going against the most basic form of common sense and spilling their guts, without regard for how it’s going to be received.

Do I have a favorite child? Yes. And the next day, that kid will be dangerously close to being put out of the house and the other one will take the crown. I can say with near certainty that happens evenly.

Perhaps the thing that pisses me off so badly about this is Kluger’s assertion that he knows what is going on in my head, home and heart. I can assure him (not that he asked me) that it is not because it is anathema to me; it’s just not true. And judging by the results of the poll on the MSNBC page, most people just aren’t feeling his way of thinking either.

So let’s debate. Do you have a favorite child or did you grow up in a home where a brother or sister was favored? Do you think most parents have a favorite child but just can’t bring themselves to admit it? Lemme hear ya!


  1. TechyDad

    September 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    My parents both grew up in households where the older sibling was the favorite. (They were each the younger sibling.) They tried to be fair, but I think they overcompensated and wound up making my sister (the younger child) the favorite. (She’d dispute that and claim I was the favorite.)

    With my kids, I try hard not to play favorites. In some respects it’s hard since one child is 8 and one is 4. Obviously, more is expected from the 8 year old than from the 4 year old. For many years, the younger kid got away with things because he was “a baby” or “just a little kid.” Meanwhile, my older son was punished for his bad deeds. Since the younger one has gotten to the age where he’s held accountable for his actions, that preferential treatment goes away.

    I like to say I have a favorite 8 year old and a favorite 4 year old. When their birthdays roll around, they lose “favorite” status for that age but attain it for the next one.

  2. Joy

    September 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t have children. But I have sibling at times I did feel that my sibling was favored. But as an adult I have come to believe that we were treated differently because we were different. That said while I think most children are loved equally I do think that parents may like one child more than another. Most times I don’t think this difference is significant but it is there. Perhaps a parent shares more common interests with one child which engenders more friendly feelings toward that child. But as long as you make sure you are equitably meeting the needs of each child it is all good.

  3. Kim - Mommycosm

    September 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Blessed to have a boy and a girl. I always tell them “You are my favorite little girl” or “You are my favorite little boy.” The real truth? Much like you, on any given day, the easiest and most well behaved is my favorite. Over time, I’d say it all spreads as evenly as Nutella;-)

    Growing up, it clearly felt as if my sister was my parents’ favorite. But now that I am a parent, I think it felt that way mostly because she was easier. I was curious and into everything, always testing them. She was Miss Goodie Two Shoes and compliant. (yawn). I really don’t think they loved me any less; they just had to ride me a little harder.

  4. Amy

    September 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I have a favorite only because I only have one child and yeah she is my favorite if we ever have more children they will all be my favorites for different reasons. I think though that you missed part of the point of the book. The author explains that siblings are the people you spend most of your life with and they are your best friends and how sad it is that we lose that friendship in adult hood.

  5. m.e. johnson

    September 26, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Remember the Smothers Brothers?: “Mom always liked you best.” Did she? I’m for the 5% who lie about it.

  6. Smarty P. Jones

    September 27, 2011 at 1:30 am

    As the youngest child who isn’t the baby, I’d love to be able to say that I wasn’t favored. Truth is my mom favored us all. Treated us all differently and raised us with the skills we needed to be the successful adults we have become.

    I think the parents love their children equally but give them what they need and when you’re looking at the way your siblings are treated with tinted lenses, you perceive it to be favoritism. When this article came out, I posted it jokingly on my mom’s Facebook page. We often tease her that my sister is the favorite because she is the middle child. My mom was a middle child and was treated horribly and didn’t want that for my sister.

    At times, my mom has coddled the four of us and given us the kick in the butt when it was needed. So, I guess to sum up this long answer, I think my sibs and I are all the favorite but on different days for different reasons.

  7. Meg

    October 3, 2011 at 10:31 am

    My mother raised my brothers and I mostly on her own. What always happend was her favorite would always be in waves. First it was me the oldest when I helped out around the house then it was my youngest brother when he told mom where I took off too and wasn’t supposed to, then it would be my middle brother when she had interesting conversations with him. There was never one steady favorite but when the other two were bad, she definatly clung to the last good one :p

  8. Dennis A. Lokey

    October 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Without question my oldest son is my favorite and I don’t mind saying it. He looks like me, talks like me, likes the things I like and wants to be around me all the time. How could I not favor him? In all seriousness, my oldest is my favorite because my wife and I went through hell for years trying to conceive him. We suffered through several miscarriages, different fertility specialists, and even corrective surgery on my wife’s uterus. If that wasn’t enough, when she finally did get pregnant with our oldest son (by IUI of course) she had to inject herself with Heparin in her stomach every day for nine months. And the icing on the cake was our oldest was born with Hirschsprung’s Disease, a condition that required surgery to remove a section of his colon when he was two weeks old. He’s 7 now and he still has potty issues and he will likely have them for several more years. How can I not feel a little more for him? I love my youngest son with all my heart don’t get me wrong, but he was easy. No doctors or surgery. He was the product of a New Years Eve party featuring a U2 cover band and an open bar. I love both my boys to death, but do I have a favorite? Yeah, and I’m not ashamed of it.

  9. Tiffany T

    October 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I grew up with my mom (who was a single mother) and my younger brother. My extended family always claimed that I was my mother’s favorite (because I was the oldest, a girl & just like her). I was involved in all sorts of music and sports, whereas my brother did a lot less on that front. Why did he do less? Because he wanted to. I wanted to be into everything and experience more. My brother didn’t, but my family perceived that as favoritism. My brother & I have had many conversations about it & neither one of us felt like my mom permanently favored either one of us. We were also her “favorite son” & “favorite daughter”. We now both tease her about how “I’m your favorite kid” & we all laugh about it.

    On the other hand, my husband was clearly his mom’s favorite. They are so much alike, whereas her other children are more like their father. Does she love them any less? Absolutely not. She just has so much in common with my husband that they’ve bonded over those things.

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