Mom always liked you best

How favouritism affects families.

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Published in Today's Parent in January 2009

Growing up, Danielle Rothman* was acutely aware that her mother preferred her youngest brother over the other three kids in the family.

"She would actually come right out and tell him he was the favourite in front of us and we'd all cringe," says Rothman, a 50-year-old communications professional and mother of two in Halifax. "She'd cuddle and hug him - something she rarely did with me. I grew up feeling inferior and unlovable."

Rothman swore she'd never repeat her mother's behaviour in her own parenting. And yet she reluctantly admits to feeling a closer kinship with the elder of her two daughters, aged nine and five. "Justine and I have similar personalities and she's such an easy child to parent - she's just great to be around."

Victoria, on the other hand, isn't as easy to please and tends to be more rebellious. "Sometimes I worry because I have to work a little harder to appreciate Victoria. I have to put more effort into it and find ways that we can connect," says Rothman. "I live with the constant reminder of what my mother did and I never want Victoria to feel that way."

Rothman's feelings aren't unique. While few parents may actually admit to having a preference for one child, you don't have to look far to find the mom who practically swoons over her son's field goals or the dad who treats his daughter like a princess.

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