“Mom Always Liked You Best!”

If you’re the parent of multiple children, at some point you’ll no doubt be accused by one child of liking their sibling more than you like them. While you may be quick to dismiss the thought, there may be some truth behind it.
It’s a difficult job as the parent of multiples to juggle everyone’s needs when they can be very different. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld said, “There’s no such thing as fun for the whole family.” Children are quick to point out anything they see as “unfair” and it’s important early on to begin teaching children that fair doesn’t mean everyone gets the same but rather that everyone gets what they need. For example, if you have three children and one has outgrown their shoes, does it mean that all three children get new shoes? In most households, probably not. Remind children that family budgets are limited so you make decisions that meet family members’ various needs.
If the question of favoritism has come up, it’s a great opportunity to talk with the child who feels that way and really listen to their thoughts. Be open minded and try to understand where they are coming from. Do you spend more time with one child? Do you often brag to others about one child’s academic, sports, or talent accomplishments? Does one child have different rules or expectations to follow that aren’t reasonable? Do you frequently talk about one child being just like yourself?
Favoritism, or the perception of it can cause a lot of friction in a household. Jealously on the part of one child can damage sibling relationships, either short term or long term. Parental partnerships can become difficult if one partner feels the other is in fact “playing favorites.” Some studies show children can bring these feelings of favoritism into adulthood and struggle more with depression or the ability to establish healthy relationships with their own children.
Spend a little reflective time each week and look back at your interactions with your children. Did you spread yourself around and spend time with each one? Did you stay on top of how things are going in general for them – with school, family, and friends? If it makes sense in your situation, purposefully block out some alone time to spend with each child. That time might be while you’re driving a child to or from sports practice, while you’re cooking dinner together or packing lunches for the next day, or it might mean having lunch out or a similar experience.
We all know the saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Your family might have one or two very squeaky wheels, but with a little thought and planning, everyone can get their needs met.


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