A new survey is out plastering parents who have a favorite child and showing how it is harmful to a happy family life.
The study concluded that, “when siblings in families were parented very differently, all children in those families showed more mental health problems.”
In September, I became (in)famous for publicly declaring that I had a favorite child. I fielded emails from Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper, and Good Morning America. My blog post was discussed on HuffPo, The Globe and Mail, Fox and Friends, and even publications in the UK, and Australia. Toss in the run of the mill Mommy blogging set adding their opinion to the pile, and it was a wild 10 days.
And here we go again.
ABC has dug up the Good Morning America footage of me and my family to add to their story on the study and so, once again, my decision to declare I have a favorite child will be judged.
But it’s not what you think. Let me explain.
My wife just took a 4 day business trip to one side of the continent, and I took our kids for a 4 day spring break to their grandparents’ house on the other side. Usually when my wife and I travel we default to our usual habits – I have the oldest, she has the youngest. When I talk about having “a favorite,” this is the basis for which I make my decision. You know how you have a “favorite” route to work, a “favorite” drink, a “favorite” chair in the boardroom? That’s how I have a favorite kid. I have a default choice. Out of habit, I grab the hand of my oldest, my wife grabs the hand of the youngest. It’s how our team works.
So, for 4 days, I had no easy default. I was the one looking after both in the airport, on transit, and on our outings. I’m not going to give you a sob story about “daddysitting”, begging for plaudits that I did it on my own (although a Nana at the airport was amazed that I was traveling solo with the two boys – “Good for you”, she applauded).
My weekend with the boys was easy. Charlie is 3 and Zacharie is 5. They, for the most part, listen. Z likes the responsibility of helping to watch out for his brother, and we work as a team.
While I have declared Zacharie as my favorite, without my wife around I was having to break out of defaults and divide my attention between the two. When Zacharie was having fun playing with Legos, I took Charlie geocaching. When it was time to take their cousin home, it was Zacharie who came along for the ride.
I loved being the one that Charlie nuzzled for night night story time. He’s small for 3, and he still fits in the crook of your arm, like a teddy bear. I buried my face in his curls, and kissed his head hundreds of time. You see, while I may have said my older son is my ‘favorite’, it has not diminished the love, affection, adoration, or caring I have for my youngest.
Still, the Chooch missed his Mama. On the flight home it was a constant whine of “Where’s Mama?” and “I want to see Mama.” Just as my wife and I have defaults, the kids do as well. And there’s nothing wrong with it.
The study is talking about very dramatic changes in your behavior with each of your children. If one has a bedroom and the other lives under the stairs with Harry Potter, you’re probably showing too much favoritism.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
Start keeping track of how you and your spouse act when you head out with your team. I’m guessing you have settled in to habits of grabbing one kid each time to walk across the parking lot. You, my friend, have a ‘favorite’, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Image via Buzz Bishop. No use without permission.