Parents Do Really Have a Favorite Child, Studies Say

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Once in our lives, we have probably heard parents say, "I don't have a favorite child. I love them all the same way." That could be true, although experts beg to differ.

Over the years, studies show that parents do have a favorite child. However, it is usually not the child that siblings thought all along.

In an article published in the TODAY Parents, a sociologist named J. Jill Suitor said that in previous interviews with mothers and fathers, they have disclosed that they have a child closer to them, and they prefer to confide with them. Parents answered this kind of question when they were asked directly by the researchers. The Suitor is a professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

RELATED ARTICLE: Favorite Child More Likely to be Depressed

The favorite child is not the one who we think 

According to the study that Suitor and his colleagues have conducted in the past two decades, parents have a different perception of the preferred child, compared to what society considers as a success.

Some children think that the preferred or favorite child is the most successful. For the children, the favorite child is perceived as either getting good grades or earning more during the adult years.

Parents tend to choose a child who shares the same values as them. 

Specifically, mothers are inclined to prefer a child who goes out of his or her way to be nice. Another factor that affects the decision of mothers is how a child helps his or her siblings. Parents also consider the kind of concern of a child to the family.

In the study conducted by Suitor, it also appears that mothers feel a lot more connected to those children who went through a lot of challenges. As an example, mothers tend to be more proud of the child who failed in college than the one who is studying at Harvard.

In another research that was shared with Quartz and was led by Katherine Conger, she said that kids have different personalities, and so do parents. That is why there is also a possibility that the preferences of parents may differ as time goes.

RELATED ARTICLE: Long Term Effects of Having a Favorite Child

What is the effect of favoritism on siblings?

In an article published in Psychology Today, experts say that parents still feel guilty and are often in denial when talking about their favorite child. However, feelings of sadness can be the result of favoritism. It can also result in family conflicts.

Another study shows that the difference in the treatment of parents to their children affects younger siblings' concept of their self-worth.

In another study by Suitor and Mega Gillihan, the parental bonds that exist when parents are still alive also affect the children even after their parents' death.

The study's findings suggest that many people have big fights with their siblings after their parents die, although it is worth noting that the study by Suitor and Gilligan is still in its early stage.

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