Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.
Is It Wrong to Favor One Child Over Another?
I read where a Canadian father and blogger stated that he favors his older son over his younger son, Charlie. His children are five and two. He favors the one he can do more things with, and he is proud to announce this to world via his blog. Seriously? The two-year-old is his least favorite child because he is two? I shuttered when I read this … not because the dad felt that way but because he obviously doesn’t understand the power of his words OR the power of words written on the web that are forever memorialized for his sons to read many years from now.
Most dads are naturally going to enjoy a son who is out of diapers and old enough to share his love for adventure. I am not angry at the dad for the way he feels, and I also give him credit for attempting to be authentic by writing what he genuinely believes other parents feel but don’t say. But, in my opinion, stating on record that he has a favorite son is immature and insensitive and could have a lasting effect on Charlie. If this father is bold enough to say, “I have a favorite son, and I’m not afraid to admit it,” then rest assured that his actions were there long before his words came out. Children have a keen sense of knowing what we don’t say, and I cannot imagine growing up actually hearing those words.
I don’t know any parent with more than one child who enjoys each one equally at all times, and there are certain phases of a child’s development that one parent or the other may find more enjoyable. However, it is irresponsible for us to voice our feelings in a manner that might affect our child’s self-esteem. Honesty is a virtue, but it is not a license to hurt those who depend on us to guide them and to love them. A parent who expresses every feeling he has throughout parenthood without regard to the effect it might have on his child needs to dig deep and ask, “What good comes to my child if I express this thought or feeling?” Modeling the behavior we want our child to learn begins with our own self-discipline and making every decision on the side of the child.
One child might challenge us while another might come along and make us look like a parenting pro. If we live long enough, however, we realize that the challenging child actually taught us some valuable life lessons. Each child is unique, yet each child deserves to be treasured. Our feelings about our children as they grow and develop should be processed internally, and we must think before we speak. As Dr. Phil says, “Don’t ever miss a good opportunity to shut up.” We should NEVER underestimate the power of our words, and we must use them wisely. Words have the power to encourage and inspire … but they also have the potential to destroy.
Charlie is two today, but he will one day read his father’s words and know that he was second best. If he does, I hope that he also reads that many of us wrote that he did not deserve what his father said. Charlie may not be like his brother, but I am confident that he is an amazing little guy who will teach his father many great things in life.