Recently the subject of favorite children came up while we were Mr. Dog's parents' house for Christmas. See, Mr. Dog wanted to light a fire in the fireplace, his mother said no. He joked that if his brother was visiting she'd allow it for the "Golden Child." It was all in good fun, but it made me wonder, how impartial are we as parents. I mean really. I started to think about my two boys and our past run ins with hurt feelings and the flawed belief that I love one more than the other. And I really don't. At least I don't think I do. Sure there may be brief turns where one seems to have captured a special space in my heart as they navigate a phase or pick up some new trait, but these are more like bumps in the peanut butter of my otherwise evenly spread love than a long lasting favorite. They are both so uniquely their own boys that I can't even compare them. I may be more challenged by one than the other at any given point, I may see more of myself in one than the other at some time, but I never find myself loving one more than the other. And honestly, they both have the ability to annoy me in equal intensity as well so it all balances out in the end.
That said, I know as a child I definitely struggled with the idea of not being the favorite. My sister was a much more cooperative, less conflict-causing child and I know at times I felt that she was by far the favorite. Then there were times when I felt like I was the clear favorite of one parent or the other. I think there is something about being more similar either in personality or interests that builds bonds that can appear to be favoritism.
I'm also sure that in some families there are favorites. I have seen one child being given an easier path than the other, or one child heaped with praise while the other is shoveling out from under non-stop criticism. Instead of finding the uniqueness of each child charming (even while being challenging) some parents seem to want to crush it out of them.
I wonder if as the boys grow older my need for them to conform to some standards I have in my mind will cause me to push one harder or feel more closely bound to one than the other. I know that similarities in personality make it easier to understand what motivates one child than the other and that there is a special sense of pride when one of the boys expresses an interest in something I am passionate about. I don't know if this will turn into a preference for one boy over the other as they grow older. I hope not, but it is interesting to ponder. Think about it, as we meet people, we form individual opinions of them and some become more favored over others. Why wouldn't these same inclinations develop when thinking about our own children. And yet as I consider it, I can't imagine a time when both boys don't make my heart burst with love and pride not in spite of, but due to their own individual merits.
In the long run, I strive to raise the boys without playing favorites, to give them both what they need when they need it, to nurture and support them in the way they each that matches with their own development. And just thinking about this makes me worry a little. It sounds like a hell of a lot of work. I guess what I really hope is that neither of them will think of the other as the "Golden Child" who can do no wrong or believes, no matter how mildly, that they received anything less than my full love and attention.
How about you? Do you think you have a favorite? Do you even worry about this, or is it just me?
Pasta ala Fridge
5 years ago