“So, who do you love more amongst your twins? K or A?”. This innocent question from a teenaged neighbour of mine got me thinking, thinking real hard. It took me 3 decades back when I used to ask my grandma whom did she love more- me or my elder sister? And her consistent straight answer, coated with years of wisdom, is still etched in my mind- “What do you love more – your left eye or right eye?”. And of course I would get convinced, even though for a short while!
But is it okay to love your one child more than the other? Is it normal? Does it make you un-motherly in any way if you confess this? Is “favouritism” a parenting taboo?
Fine. This is not a debate about whether it’s right or wrong. Nor it is something that can be proved in open to anyone by anyone. But you can’t deny the fact that fondness for one child may vary from the other one.
Love Vs Fondness or Favouritism
“Love” is a very strong term to separate your feelings amongst children. Love implies more of tenderness and a strong affection. I would say I love both my children because I do. But I also think it’s possible to like your children equally, differently though. A lot less is spoken about Favouritism , which is a reflection of attitude and varies from time to time. Parents may love all their children but at certain times, prefer or favour one over the rest. And this may not happen purposely, but it happens!
The twisted case of Twins !
Yes, it’s kind of twisted when it comes to twins or multiples, having a favourite is kind of obscure. After all the babies were born the same time, reached basic milestones at almost the same time, celebrated their “firsts” at the same time- then why is there a difference in bond when it comes to parent-child relationship?
If I look back now, I realise there were several reasons for this “favouritism”.
When my twins were born, my daughter had to be re-hospitalised for a week for phototherapy sessions. That was the time I got to spend some special moments with K, alone.
It might sound terrible if I say that initially I felt more connected to my son K. I think it’s because of the time I spent with them and their poles-apart temperament that was the real reason. So much so that if they both would cry at the same tone, I used to take charge of K and give the responsibility of A to somebody else.
Also, since A was not able to latch well with me, she was mostly on express milk (bottle fed). So those cuddly moments were missing with her; while most of the time I used to be breastfeeding my son, there were more of hugs, butterfly kisses, pats, cuddly games that I enjoyed with him.
I feel bad if I think about this now, wonder if I was being a bad mom!
But it didn’t take me long to change my favourite!
Can favourites change?
Favouritism can be circumstantial, so to say. Child’s developmental stages define the kind of fondness parents would show- as a dependent infant, naughty toddler, retaliating teen etc.
Also, identifying more with once child over the other can change with time.
As K and A grew up and their personalities, facial features, nature started coming out more distinct. A started resembling me more, was coming out as a faster and smarter kid as compared to K. Her likings, her way of responding to love, her “outgoing” nature was something I could relate to more.
Why a favourite?
There are several reasons that could make you being fond of one child more than the other.
- First born child: well, it’s a special feeling to become parents for the first time. So that is a big enough reason considering you would have spent more time, created more special moments, celebrated more of “firsts” with the eldest child. Also, going by the Darwinian logic, first born children absorb a lot of time , and parents believe that once they have invested so much in a child they might as well carry on.
- Physical appearance: More attractive child generally gets more attention in normal walks of life. While it’s certainly a very tricky factor when it comes to parents, the reality is that it DOES hold true- sounds cruel, isn’t it?
- Child’s nature: A calm, considerate, caring and organised child has all the qualities of being a favourite of everyone including parents.
- Similar interests: Picture this – a soccer player Dad discovers his one son showing interest in sports. There is a tendency to be doting towards the child who mirrors one’s interests.
- Similar traits: As a parent one tends to identify more with the child which has similar traits and personality. In a way, you see yourself in the child.
- Gender biased: Do I say anymore? That’s in itself a “national” problem.
Consequences of favouritism
The feeling of not-being-loved-enough or not being a favourite to parents can be extremely deterimental for child’s self esteem. Inferiority complex keeps building up and hampers the child’s self confidence over a period of time.Besides creating a barrier between the child and parents, a feeling of hostility makes way between siblings.
So mommies, while you would never say you have a favourite kid- even if you have one – it’s totally fine! I believe while all parents love their children alike, they may be fond of one whom they identify more with or perhaps favor more. It’s quite natural. But as parent this feeling should be a wrapped up secret. It’s not only important to love all children alike but also to show affection on time to time basis.
And to that question I was asked – whom do I love more? Well, I love both K & A 🙂