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When parents have multiple kids, do they secretly favor one over the others? If so, is there a way a kid can tell he or she is the favorite?
Some parents play favorites, some don’t. Most of those who do so try very hard to hide that fact from the other children, generally out of a desire to protect their feelings.
Parents don’t set out to favor one child over another. But the behavior or personality of one kid can resonate with a parent in a way that the other children cannot duplicate. However, unless the parents make a point of consistently showing their favoritism, children are not likely to be able to tell what’s going on, for several reasons.
- Many children think that everyone else has it better than they do, even if there is no difference in how they are treated. Perception can trump reality, and the number of children convinced that a sibling is favored probably dwarfs the actual number of children who receive favorable treatment.
- Older children tend to receive more autonomy and privileges simply because of their age. Younger children often erroneously view that as favoritism.
- Younger children tend to receive more parental attention and pampering simply because of their age. Older children often erroneously interpret that as favoritism.
- Parents try very hard to mask any favoritism. When a parent favors one child over another, the parent in question tends to feel guilty and may try to compensate by doing special things for the other child.
Bottom line: Children tend to interpret the world in terms of how it affects them. That kind of immaturity can skew a kid’s perceptions. Just because a child sees favoritism does not mean the parents are truly showing partiality.
I’m 19 years old and my mom’s only child. She keeps begging me for a grandchild when I get older and marry my boyfriend. But me and my boyfriend aren’t kid people at all. We view them as stressful and too much responsibility. But if I never have any, the family tree will end. My mom is making this hard for me! What should I do? Please don’t say I’ll change my mind, because I won’t. I don’t want kids. Can you help with the mom pressure?
I can’t tell you definitively how to get your mother off your back on this issue. Every mom is different, and some will keep pushing and pushing and pushing until they change your mind. But I can tell you that you are absolutely right not to let her make the decision for you.
I know it doesn’t seem that way, but there is indeed a chance you will change your mind. I disliked children at age 19 and only mellowed as I got older. Such transformations are common. Then again, you very well may not change your opinion at all, which is certainly your prerogative.
Given the tone of your letter, I suspect that you have argued with your mother on this topic. If you have never simply stood firm and said that the decision is yours to make and not hers, it’s past time to establish that fact. However, I would suggest that you avoid arguments about this topic. I’m not saying you have to go along with your mother or agree with her, just not to argue about it.
Any time she brings it up, say something like, “As I’ve told you before, Mom, I don’t want children. If my opinion changes, you’ll be the first to know.” Then change the subject. If she won’t drop the children issue, hang up the phone or leave the house and go do something else.
Don’t be insulting, and don’t get into shouting matches. The next time I see a shouting match end up with one person convinced that he was wrong and the other guy was right will be the first time. Instead, practice a more passive form of resistance. You can be firm without being combative. Simply refuse to discuss the issue with her. Hopefully she’ll catch on and ease off on the pressure.
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