Parental Favoritism: Fact or Fiction?

Most parents would be understandably horrified to be accused of favoring one of their children over another, but is it more a case of perceived favoritism in the eyes of the child towards their sibling?

Here is a look at whether parental favoritism is a matter of fact or just a work of fiction.


A matter of perspective

Raise the subject of parental favoritism and the majority of people will become very uncomfortable with the very mention of the topic, which can be classed as taboo in our society.

In reality, all parents display an element of favoritism towards one child over another, but before you get too offended by that suggestion, it could be argued that the amount of time you spend with a newborn and young child, compared to an older sibling who is more independent, could technically be viewed as favoritism.

It isn’t favoritism of course as you are simply applying basic parenting principles and making sure that the needs of your children are met, which means spending more time with younger ones in all probability.

It is therefore sometimes a matter of perspective when it comes to classifying what constitutes favoritism or not.

Different personalities

Another point to consider is that each child’s behavior and personality can be a an influential factor in how you treat them and how much time you spend with them in comparison to your other children.

You could argue that parents are instinctively more inclined to display a greater level of affection towards a child who is receptive to that affection and returns the compliment by being loving and affectionate in return.

On the flip side, a child who is disruptive, uncooperative and generally displays deviant behavior, is more likely to be disciplined more often. Whether the way you parent each child based on their individual personality traits, could be viewed in some way as favoring one over the other, is very much open to debate.

The effect on children

A good number of parents, especially those that have used the services of someone like DivorceGuru and are no longer parenting together,  might worry that they might be seen as favoring one child over another.

As you would expect, there are negative effects, both long and short-term, with children who are perceived to be the least favored sibling, but there are also consequences attached to children who are seen to be favored.

An unflavored child is often considered to be more susceptible to emotional issues after they have grown up and left, such as depression or low self-esteem, and those mental scars stay with them for a large part of their adult life.

Even a child who is perceived to have been the favored one, can actually struggle to form long-term relationships in their adult life, as they can feel that no one can match the love they felt and received as a child.

The truth of the matter is that very few parents would ever deliberately set out to favor one of their children over another, and it is more often than not, a matter of perspective.

Madeleine Heron writes about a wide range of parenting issues in her articles. A Mother to 3 biological kids plus 2 older step-kids has given her plenty of food for thought in her life, great for using in her articles!


Image courtesy of nenetus at

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