With over eight years of writing and researching experience, Grace specializes in debunking commonly held myths about family psychology.
Favoritism, An INEVITABLE Factor of Life & Families
The Taboo "F" Word- FAVORITISM
There is something that happens in almost every multichild family. Parents are hesitant, even loathe to acknowledge such an occurrence. Children know that it happens. They have an acute awareness that it is a commonplace, even normative occurrence, especially in families of 2 or more children. Even when parents claim they never do this, they do it either overtly or covertly. Families know that such thing occurs but they prefer to keep secret, even taboo. This incident has sent many people to the psychologist's or even the psychiatrist's table.
Yes, the incident and/or occurrence is favoritism. It occurs in more families than it is realized. It is in varied degrees from a rarity to commonplace. It can happen subtly or be very extreme. Only a very few families do not experience nor practice favoritism. Parents are first of all human. Human beings naturally gravitate towards and are more partial to some people than they are to other people. Children are not the exception. It is natural although it is seldom admitted that parents like some of their children better than they do their other children. This is shocking but it a natural fact of life and especially parenting.
Machinations of Favoritism
The Machinations of Favoritism
When there is more than one child in the family, children usually compete against each other and vie for parental favors and resources. They are not above using one-upmanship and other forms of manipulative gamesmanship to put themselves in their parents' good graces. Such gamesmanship is normative among siblings. The sibling who is the most adept at gamesmanship oftentimes win parental favor.
The family is a unit with its own written and unwritten rules and by-laws. It also has an unwritten agenda and paradigm as to how its members are to operate and be. Parents tend to favor children who conform to their agendas, rules, and/or paradigms. Such children are viewed as easy, even manageable. These children are held up as examples for other children to follow. Parents favor such children because they are deemed the proper, even positive representations of the family unit. Conversely, children who go against the familial agendas, rules, and/or paradigms tend to be unfavored by their parents. They are viewed as difficult and even problematic by their parents as they are the negative reflection of the family.
The Upside of Favoritism
Children who are favorites feel special. They have access to resources that other children in the family do not. They are given and/or have opportunities that other children do not or will not have. They are on friendlier terms with their parents. They have warmer, more comfortable relationships with their parents. They have the ability to say things to their parents that other children in the family cannot say. They even have more privileges and are punished less for wrongdoings than other children in the family.
Children who are favorites have high self-esteem and confidence because of the preferential treatment bestowed upon them by their parents. They feel that they can do anything as they feel that they are worthy and loved by their parents. They have the impetus to be successful and attain any goal they set their minds to. They know that they are invincible because their parents support them and that the latter are in their corner. As a result of parental favoritism, they even have a sense of well-being. In some cases, they may believe that they must be extraordinary as their parents favor them above the other children in the family.
Favoritism, The DOWNSIDE
Children who are favorites can develop a superior attitude. They may feel that they are better than the other children in the family. They may treat their siblings condescendingly, knowing that they will not be accountable for such behavior. They may have an inflated sense of self-worth, believing and feeling that they can do no wrong. This attitude can make them feel that they have carte blanche to do anything they want whether it is right or wrong. In more egregious circumstances, it can lead them to abuse their siblings without worrying about the consequences of their actions. Their parents may even be complicit regarding their wrongdoing because after all, they are the golden child in the family.
Children who are favorites have very high expectations placed upon them. They must even be that perfect or near perfect person to remain in their parents' good graces. They have to walk that familial tightrope and put their best face forward. They really cannot be their authentic selves. They must have the image and do things which please their parents. If they decide to stop the façade or to be less than what their parents expect and/or desire, they can go from favorite to disfavored child in an instant. They also can incur the displeasure even wrath of the other children in the family, particularly those who are disfavored by their parents. Such displeasure from the other children can include envy to cases of abuse in order to knock favorite children of their familial pedestal, putting them in their place.
The UGLINESS of Favoritism
Favoritism causes unimaginable damage to families. It is responsible for intense sibling rivalry that often lasts a lifetime. It causes irreparable rifts between siblings. It makes siblings hate each other intensely. It can result in physical violence and other egregious acts between siblings. It makes one child feel superior while other children feel inferior at best and like non-persons at worst.
Favoritism makes disfavored children feel insignificant. They even feel like outsiders in their own families. They may feel that they are ignored, even made to feel anonymous by their parents. They even feel that they do not matter as far as their parents are concerned. They believe that they are overshadowed by the favorite child who is deemed to be the star in the family. Favoritism negatively impacts favorite children as well. It gives them an inflated sense of entitlement. It leads to expect that everything is and/or should be easy. It causes them to psychologically and even psychically discombobulate in the face of adversity and difficulty. It also make them people pleasers for fear of being disliked.
Favoritism is a commonplace occurrence in most multichild families of 2 children or more. Parents oftentimes pretend that favoritism does not exist. They even go as far as to deny that favoritism happens. However, parents, as human beings, have their likes and dislikes. This extends to children. Yes, parents like some children better than others. Although parents do not admit this, actions speak otherwise.
Favoritism affect children in different ways. Favorite children feel confident and have a feeling of being loved. They feel that they have their parents on the side. Disfavored children oftentimes feel insignificant, even like a non-person in the family. Favoritism destroys families, causing rifts between siblings that could last a lifetime. Even though favoritism is an undeniable fact of life in families, it oftentimes causes more harm than good. All children are favorites in the family and deserve the utmost courtesy, love, and respect from parents.
© 2017 Grace Marguerite Williams