Is it okay to have a favourite child?

It is generally said that most parents love all their children equally. Sure there are ups and downs, like with

It is generally said that most parents love all their children equally.

Sure there are ups and downs, like with any relationship, but at the end of the day most parents like to think they treat their kids equally and love them just the same.

Well, this is the perception anyway.

It turns out that we’re not as ‘love friendly’ as we thought. A study by the University of California has found that the majority of parents — a whopping 74 in fact — favour one child over the other.

Researchers found that 74 per cent of mothers have a favourite child, while 70 per cent of fathers say they favour one over the other.

But how could this be? When we talk about this issue, most parents say they are shocked by these results and that they can’t imaging loving one child more than the other.

But if the data is anything to go by most of these parents are telling a tall one.

Jenny* says that although she loves both of her daughters, she feels more of an affinity with her eldest.

“I love my girls, they’re both gorgeous and kind and smart, but I just feel like I have a stronger connection with my eldest,” she said.

“It’s hard to say why… Maybe it’s just because she is my first born and I went through so many experiences for the first time with her.

“I love my youngest so much and would do anything for her, but I just feel like I’m closer with my eldest.”

Jenny says she feels ashamed when she thinks about it and would never want her daughters to know.

“It’s so hard to even admit this! I don’t ever want my girls to know that I said this and I sometimes wonder if I’m a bad mother for even thinking it.

“I do wonder if there are other mums and dads out there who feel the same way.”

It seems that there are plenty of other parents who feel the same way, we’re just not talking about it. Why is that though? It’s one thing not to mention it to your children, for obvious reasons, but people don’t even talk about it with their close friends and family.

The idea that we would have a favourite is the kind of taboo topic that causes people to brand each other as ‘bad parents’ – something many of us spend a lifetime trying to avoid.

What might come as a surprise to many parents is that their children usually know who is the favourite and who is coming in second best.

Professor Dalton Conley, head of social sciences at New York University, says kids easily pick up on the subtitles and are well aware of who is the top dog in the sibling department.

This is a thought that horrifies parents like Jenny, who would hate for their children to think they played favourites between them.

Although many parents have a favourite child, it does not mean they are bad parents. These mums and dads would still do anything for any of their children. They still love them all tremendously and would go above and beyond for any of them.

They just happen to feel closer with one more than the other. This doesn’t make them a bad person. It just makes them human. Doctors say we can’t always love everyone equally, as much as we might like to try to.

It’s just human nature. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Where do you stand on this issue?

Do you think it’s okay for a parent to prefer one child over the other? Do you have a favourite child? Or did you feel that your parents had a favourite?


  1. I have a favourite and I’m not afraid to admit it, my youngest darling daughter. And before you all want to ‘ strike me down’ it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is the only girl with three older brothers. In part, it probably had its beginnings because she was 15 years younger than her youngest brother and 20 years younger than her oldest brother. The other reason which is the ‘biggy’ that for different reasons that would take forever to explain here, they all have decided that on the most part, they don’t want to be a part of our lives. Also at now 22 years my daughter is the only one of the four of them that is there for me.

  2. Jane Norris  

    I think we love each of our children as if each one was the only one. Our relationship with each of them is affected by how they interact with us. The one we love the most today depends to some extent on which one needs us most today.

  3. my older brother was /is the favorite even though he was a druggie , he was /is the clever one the artistic one etc even at school teacher said ” look at your brother what happened to you ?? u=in maths classes. etc

  4. Joan Marshall  

    I do Love my sons equally but… my eldest son is closer to me with affection and care for me and has complimented me by saying he is privileged to have me as his Mother. I worked for that compliment by always putting them first in my life.

  5. HS  

    You brought them in to this world, love them, share and treat them equally without favouritism! That’s your lifetime responsibility!!!

  6. Jan Foley  

    I am much closer to my eldest daughter than my other two children, mainly because she bothers to make time for me and we do things together. My youngest daughter chooses her so called friends over me, and my son has distanced himself from all of his side of the family for years, because of a domineering wife, who has also disowned her own parents. I never see their two children, who are my only grandchildren. A very sad situation. I do love all my children, but the eldest daughter a tad more than the others. 😊 You give what you receive!

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