Giving birth to my twins made me an instant mother of two. I never had the chance to experience rearing a single child and devote my time to an only child. It was always twice the effort. Friends have always been asking me,"Who is your favorite?" or "Do you play favorites?" and you know what, I cannot simply answer the question directly. I even thought if I had been playing favorites already?
As a parent, I want to discover myself and analyze my relationship with my children so I will check on some of the reasons I know why favoritism happens in a household, how it affects the children and maybe some ways on how it can be prevented. These facts are based on personal experiences, observations and stories from other people.
Why Favoritism Happens?
- Child's Attitude - differences in each child's temperament. It sometimes irritates the parents if a child has a difficult temper, having frequent tantrums and reacting violently over small things.
- Parent's Expectations - be it talent, interests or things that parents like for their children. One child always fits the parent's expectation. It can also be about physical appearance or if a parent expects the opposite gender for a child.
- Child's Health - the sickly child gets more attention than the healthier one or vice versa.
- Life Event - the child was conceived unexpectedly. An "unwanted child" as others would want to call it.
How Favoritism Affects the Child?
- Self-Esteem - the unfavored child will most likely feel that he is not being accepted. And while the unfavored child seem to suffer from having low self-esteem, the favored child might develop over confidence that may possibly lead to arrogance.
- Fairness - the unfavored child is most likely to receive rewards for doing something that satisfies the parent while the favored child is receiving rewards for no particular reason. The child could feel that the world is unfair.
- Peer Relationship - the favored child who is always receiving something for nothing might expect that the world will be just the same as the parents and that he will always get what he wants but hey, reality says "no". The child could develop problem when relating to his peers. This could also be the same for the unfavored child as he is always seeing the world to be unfair, the child could think that other people are just the same as the parents.
- Sibling Relationship - of course, favoritism could result to sibling rivalry. One would always protect his favored status and thus, will work hard to retain it. The unfavored child could do the same to get some attention. Children will always find a way to prove themselves to their parents which could often result to anxiety or insecurity.
How To Avoid Favoritism
- Acceptance - children has differences and parents should acknowledge that one child could exactly be different than the other.
- Love - parents love their children. Setting the balance is the problem. Learn to love each other the way the want to be loved and accepted for they are different.
- Unique - learn to discover the unique identity of your child and acknowledge it. Discover each of their interests, hobbies and skills and relate to them individually.
- Time - have some time with each child alone to develop your relationship with each other.
- Praise - acknowledge child accomplishment but avoid over praising.
- Listen - listen when other people tells you that you are playing favorites or when your child approach you regarding favoritism concerns. Do not presume that you are doing well as a parent. We always make mistakes.
- Lastly, stop, think a hundred times before you react. Parents reaction to situations could often affect the relationship with the children.
Each child would react on the situations I stated above differently, either good or bad. Our duty as a parent does not stop on giving allowances, getting your children to school and giving them the life they want. Nurturing our children should be our primary concern.
As I was writing the checklist above, I've come to realize that there are some symptoms of favoritism on me but the good thing is, I am still in control and I still have time to correct my mistakes and not to let it happen again. My children are still young and I still have a lot to learn. The journey now begins...