It is a common circumstance to find parents favoring one child over the other children in the family. Based on research studies, a number of parents have admitted that they have favored one child over others in their lifetime (Donnellan, 2003).
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Although favoritism is almost an inevitable act, it is interesting to note that all parents try to avoid favoritism. A parent can be more emotionally attached to one child in the family as compared to the rest of the kids. Parents might fail to notice their action of favoritism, but the children usually notice it.
Favoritism usually takes several forms in a natural set up of a family. A parent can depict this act by spending a lot of time with one child compared to other siblings.
Favoritism may arise when parents give a lot of attention to one child while neglecting the other children. There are several scenarios where favoritism in a family is depicted. Researches assert that there several reasons for favoritism (Munroe, 2009).
As such, parents embrace differential treatment and favoritism of children based on age of the child, gender of the child, the personality of the child, or order of birth. There are several current ideas about the topic, which should be studied in order to understand their implications.
The issues include how to handle child favoritism, what the religion says about favoritism, adolescence treatment, parental differential treatment, and family and relationships.
In this article, I establish how parental treatment and favoritism of one child affects the other children and the favored child (Kluger, 2011). Through this, I would be interested in understanding the causes of favoritism, its effects, and its mitigations.
It is important for parents to note that favoring one child over the other children has serious psychological effects to both the favored and the less favored children. The result of these effects tends to be negative for the less favored children while giving positive impacts on the favored child.
As such, the less favored children develop a negative perception about the act of favoritism and this result in negated attitude to both the parent and favored child. The evidence for this is the resentment observed in the less favored children, and this affects negatively the development of family relationship (Sonna, 2006).
Parents should note that the unequal treatment of children should be avoided at all cost and at all times. The other devastating impact of differential treatment and favoritism is the depression and behavior change of the less favored children.
In most circumstances, frustration and lack self-esteem are observed in the other siblings. It has serious impacts on the child’s progress in school and generally in life. The less favored child may lack confidence and courage, which is needed for development in life.
It is also important to realize that the favored child is likely to encounter long-term challenges of trying to be accorded the same intimate relationship and favoritism that parents grant.
The failure of this leads to depression since the favored child takes much of their time trying to get parental favors. On the other hand, favored children in some instances fail to develop their personality since they are in a close watch of parents.
The other negative outcome of child favoritism and differential treatment by parents is the sense of unfairness and mistrust. Notably, children of tender age tend to have a strong sense of unfairness. Both the favored and the less favored are able to realize the lack fairness and imbalance in treatment by parents.
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It creates mistrust when the favoritism and treatment is inconsistent. A parent might favor one child at one time and another child next time. Children then become uncertain about the favoritism and hence they will not be sure about their parents’ treatment.
The other negative impact of favoritism is sense of guilt observed in the favored child. Once the favored child realizes the resentment and anger by the other siblings, sense of guilty develops within the favored child. The reason being the favored child feels responsible for the differential treatment the other siblings are receiving.
It is worst when parents at all times compare other children to the favored child. It portrays that the other children are less worthy and this damage their morale and confidence.
In extreme cases, the differential treatment and favoritism causes rivalry as each child tries to win the parents’ attention. Siblings develop a long-term rivalry, which is not easy to eliminate. Another major effect of favoritism is the depression and behaviors related issues.
In fact, research shows that even people with over 50 years still show rivalry if they experienced child favoritism during their childhood (Cohen, 2008). They even avoid talking to each other for long periods yet they are siblings.
The negated attitudes and behaviors are blamed on the differential treatment and favoritism hence parents should try to mitigate it. The impacts of favoritism go even further to destabilize the relationship of the family. The respect, attitudes, perceptions, and interactions among the family members changes negatively.
In this regard, parents should acknowledge that it is impossible for parents to practically treat children equally within a family and they should avoid explicitly depicting such acts of favoritism.
Cohen, C. (2008). Outnumbered, not outsmarted!: an A to Z guide for working with kids and teens in groups. Washington, D.C.: Advantage Books.
Donnellan, C. (2003). Parenting. Cambridge: Independence.
Kluger, J. (2011). The sibling effect: brothers, sisters, and the bonds that define us. New York: Riverhead Books.
Munroe, E. A. (2009). The everything guide to stepparenting: practical, reassuring advice for creating healthy, long-lasting relationships. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
Sonna, L. (2006). The everything parent’s guide to raising siblings: eliminate rivalry, avoid favoritism, and keep the peace. Avon, Mass.: Adams Media.