Parental favouritism has been a thing, since, umh…creation! Don’t believe me? Well of Adam’s and Eve’s two sons, God favourite was Abel. And we all know how that ended, right? Cain was so jealous that he ended up killing his brother Abel because of the favouritism he received from God. Same goes for Joseph and his brothers. When his brothers couldn’t take how much Joseph was loved by their father Jacob, they ended up selling him to the Egyptians. Do you get where I’m going with this? Yes, parental favouritism is the worst thing you can ever impose on your children. While many parents are often quick to declare they don’t have a favourite, a number of kids and adult siblings may beg to differ. As a parent, you may think that you are good at hiding your favouritism, but kids are very quick in picking up the perception of favouritism. Here is how parental favouritism affects children and why you shouldn’t do this to your kids:
It affects children’s esteem
For kids who grew up receiving parental favouritism, most of the time they end up growing into confident adults with high self-esteem. For the rest of the kids who were least favoured, the story is not so good. Most of these children end up thinking that there must be something wrong with them. This can then lead to anger, disruptive behaviour and even depression. These behaviours will likely carry on into their adult life and can cause other problems such as substance abuse if not addressed and dealt with.
It creates tension between siblings
If there’s one thing that we can learn from Abel’s and Joseph’s stories, it’s that parental favouritism doesn’t always nurture a good relationship between siblings. The feelings of jealousy from the least favoured child may be so intense that they may end up hurting the favoured child. When kids have grown and left the house, you’ll see a lot of instances where siblings avoid each other to the point where they haven’t talked in five years.
Children might struggle in intimate relationships
Children who grow up receiving better treatment as a result of parental favouritism may struggle to get into intimate relationships once they reach adulthood. This is because in most cases, they find that they cannot find a partner who can love and cherish them as much as their parents did.
What you can do about it as a parent
As a parent, you might do it knowingly or unknowingly – whatever the case is, it’s important to try and change it. Sometimes, it may come from the unfavoured child where they tell you that they feel as if one child is feeling favoured more than him/her. In such a case, the most important thing a parent can do is acknowledge their feelings. Don’t just say, ‘I don’t have a favourite’ or ignore it. If that’s what they’re feeling, it’s coming from somewhere and it’s their perspective. Genuinely validate how they’re feeling and then problem-solve. In some instances, what the child may really be saying is that they’d like more time and attention.