Tell me something. Why do parents lie about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy yet feel the need to be deadly honest about something with far more potentially damaging consequences? I’m talking about this sudden penchant for confessing to a bunch of people you don’t know (via the Internet), that you have a favorite child. I don’t get it.
I’ve tackled this on my own blog and recently did Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show with Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect who maintains we ALL have a favorite child, something I disagree with (Really? ALL of us?). Now it’s a hot topic again, raised this time by fellow Babble Blogger Dadcamp and I can say my attitude has not changed a bit.
Please understand this is not about WHETHER a parent likes one child more than another; the question is why write about it?
Maybe I feel this way because I’ve seen firsthand, the damage done when a parent feels the need to make that information public. Maybe it’s because of the poignant conversation I had with my own daughter when I asked her how it would make her feel if she read that.
“It would make me feel pretty unloved” was her somber response.
Words carry weight and meaning, especially with young, impressionable kids. Personally, I don’t find admitting a favorite child brave, rather a bit id-driven . See it’s not about your kid.. it’s really about you.
Take a hard look inside. Why do you have a favorite? Is it because that’s the one who’s most like you? What does that say about you?
Is it because that child is easier to manage? What does that say about your ability and/or willingness to parent? (Hey, no one said this was going to be easy).
Do you like one best because they look like you? Oh geez, do I really need to say anything here?
As wrong as it is to saddle the kid you brought into the world, with your hang-ups, it’s only compounded when you shout it from the mountaintop. What happens if your child stumbles upon while doing a high school research paper or Googling his or her name? Need I remind you that nothing goes away online? And God forbid, what if some mean kid at school finds it first and uses it as a weapon?
“Your Mom liked your brother better anyway! See, here’s proof!”
You can say, “Oh honey, at the time, that’s how I felt. But that’s not the case now; I love you both (all) equally.”
Let me know how that assuages those tender, teenage feelings.
And don’t come back with the lame, “Well-they-have-a-favorite-parent” thing either. A child’s assessment of that is probably predicated on which of you let them eat gummy worms before dinner. Besides, you as the parent (ostensibly the more mature one), have an arsenal of coping skills collected over the course of your life with which to deal with rejection; your kids haven’t been on the planet that long.
Writing about having a favorite child goes counter to what we are supposed to feel innately as a parent, which is to do everything in our power to protect our kids, not tear them down. How would a child who reads this feel any other way?
Now, some of you may say, “Wow! You must feel that way about your own kids; why else would this elicit such a strong reaction in you?” Maybe… maybe not. But you know something? You’ll never know. Neither will my kids or the people who read my blog. If I have a favorite child, that’s on me to figure out why, then deal with it in the way that doesn’t damage Casey and Cole as they’re starting out in life.
Please, mom and dad, do your kids a favor and resist the urge to be completely id-driven. Engage that filter between your feelings and your fingers and keep it zipped on this favorite child thing. It’s okay to feel that way; you’re human after all. But my God, tell your spouse, clergy, therapist anyone but not the Internet!
Am I wrong on this? Am I missing something? What good could possibly come from putting in writing (other than a private journal) that you like one of your kids more than the other?
Yo! Nice to meet you! You can find out more about me on my blog, Good Enough Mother.
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