Do I have a favorite kid? Sure.
I know, it’s the ultimate maternal trespass to fess up to that. One of my fellow Babble bloggers set the blogosphere on fire earlier this year when she admitted to loving her son more than her daughter. Parents are supposed to love all their children equally. We need to believe in that myth like we need to believe in a benevolent higher power. Most of us won’t even admit to ourselves that we might prefer one of our kids to the others.
But those who do have a favorite child are in good company. The cover of this week’s Time magazine boldly asserts that we all play favorites among our offspring. As Lisa Belkin writes in Motherlode, the argument is that we’re hard-wired by evolution to love one child more than the others.
OK. So, ev psych and I don’t get along at the best of times, and these are not those. It’s a pretty big leap to go from penguins abandoning weak chicks to a theory that we’re programmed to favor our healthiest, largest child. Especially since most of us aren’t making decisions about which kid gets enough to eat. If we’re playing favorites at all, it’s more likely that one kid gets more parental smiles or solo Mommy-daughter play dates.
Leaving aside the inanity of ascribing parental favoritism to evolution, it seems obvious that parents do play favorites. Kids are people, and we all prefer the company of some people to that of others. As your kids grow and develop their own personalities, you’re going to have independent relationships with each of them. Some of those relationships will be rockier than others, or warmer, or more fun. It’s impossible to maintain perfect equilibrium.
As Belkin so eloquently puts it:
What’s hard is accepting that relationships are fluid, determined by the ever-changing variables that make a child (and a parent) who they are at any given moment. Those ups and downs, imbalances and inequities, are not something to overcome, but rather realities to be accepted. We treat them differently because they ARE different. Navigating that reality is the key to being a parent.
I can give my kids exactly equal slices of birthday cake and the same allowance and identical back-to-school outfits. I can’t feel the same way about them every moment of every day. I have the same commitment to love, care for and protect each of my children, but I do sometimes like one of them best.
So which kid is my favorite? Ask either of my daughters, and they’ll give you the same answer: her sister is totally my favorite. I’m always spoiling the other one.
Parental Confessions: My daughter is average– but she should be the best