“You’re my favourite” is a catch phrase my daugher has picked up from Bruce Forsyth’s time on Strictly Come Dancing, it is now used with annoying regularity between her and Mr B, whenever we are having a family discussion where they inevitably take each others sides.
My son and I just look at each other and roll our eyes at the pair of them, it’s all taken in good humour, because obviously parents don’t have favourites, do they?
Well yes they do – sometimes!
My mum makes no bones about the fact that her son, my eldest sibling is her favourite, he is her first born and only son and is jokingly referred to in our house as the prodigal son, so much fuss is made of him when he returns to the family home.
Does it bother me? No, well ok maybe there are times it has a little but on the whole not really, my mum has done so much for me and my children, that I know with complete certainty that I am loved. We see or at least text, email or speak on the phone to each other most days, she is the one who is there when my children are ill and I have to go to work or when I need parenting advice/help or just a moan. So if she has a soft spot for my brother who she doesn’t get to see as often due to geographics then so be it. I of course though would never have a favourite, would I?
Well no I didn’t think so either, when my daughter was born, like most parents I couldn’t imagine loving anyone else as much, when I was expecting my son I was wracked with guilt that I would be starving my daughter of my undivided attention. As it is I found out when my son was born, yes you can love another child just as much as the first, but can you love one more?
Both my children are (I think) relatively well behaved, loveable children, but they are different. My daughter is the more sensible of the two, she does well at school, is confident and sociable, she never has to be asked to do something twenty times unlike her brother, she rarely has to be told off for misbehaving, fidgeting or being too boisterous (again unlike her brother), in many ways she is pretty close to the model child, so why then would I appear to favour her brother?
Now don’t get me wrong this is definitely not something I did consciously though there was a niggle at the back of my mind but it took Mr B (in a fit of daring) and my best friend (in a fit of alcohol) to point the fact out to me that from outside appearances my son was my favoured child. I was shocked, upset and at first in denial but I knew deep down they had a point. The fact was I had more time, more patience and more affection for my son (I know I’m not proud).
Let me first of all say that no I do not think I have a favourite child, I did however have a child I found easier to relate to and in doing so was guilty of giving out the impression that he was preferred to his sibling, yes I hang my head in shame at the idea I could have had let my children think this.
My son is cuddly (my daughter was never a touchy feely child), he is loud and whacky (and with it sometimes extremely annoying) and full of positive energy which is something I empathise with, so even after telling him to sit still, or quieten down repeatedly while his sister did as she was told I would still crack into a smile as he came out with some daft expression or threw his arms round me, while brushing his sister off for seeking attention.
My daughter does not always show enthusiasm in the same way my son and I do, she is less energetic and I found that hard to relate to, if she didn’t jump at a suggested activity I would think her moany or ungrateful and showed it in my response to her.
So confessions made (and yes I know they are awful). Once the facts had been pointed out to me, and I’d taken it on board out the next job was to confront the issue, and I think I have.
My children are there own individual people and I have tried to accept that and encourage it, my son loves cuddles, my daughter far more appreciates you sitting down and giving her some undivided attention while she sings you her latest song or puts on a play. My son likes to get out on a bike, or kick a ball, my daughter would rather get the art kit out, so I try and make sure I do both in as equal measures as I can.
As my daughter gets older she is developing a fashion conscience, and though no fashionista myself we have enjoyed girly shopping trips and I have tried to give her some hints and tips she may regret that later), we both love musicals and have had great outing to Fame and Hairspray.
I think (hope) I have managed to repair any damage caused by my previous behaviour and that neither of my children will ever feel they were favoured, but it has taken time and effort.
So back to the question? Do parents have favourites? Well yes I think sometimes they do, they may not mean to, or even want to but it can happen and a conscious effort is needed to try and alter that behaviour, I hope I’ve done it!