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…