Do you have a favourite grandchild?

Do you look into the eyes of your grandchildren and see a “favourite child”? Do you find yourself drawn to some of them and repelled by others? Do you feel you raised your children with a clear “favourite child”? And, if this is the case, do you keep your favouritism to yourself?

It seems many grandparents must have a favourite grandchild, according to experts reflecting on parenting. Many say it is natural to be drawn to grandchildren whom share interests with you.

Author of The Grandmother Principles, Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D., and a grandmother of 12, said “Some personalities just click more easily than others. That’s as true of grandchildren as it is of acquaintances”.

There debate this week over whether parents have a favourite child, and how they manage this, after Dr Michael Carr Gregg, a child psychologist and the head of the The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, established by the Federal Government, went on a Melbourne radio station and controversially said “Every parent has a favourite child”. He has sparked debate across social media that has many groups talking about favouritism in parenting and we feel compelled to extend this conversation to grandparenting.

In a recent Body and Soul article, US journalist Jeffrey Kluger is quoted as saying, “95 per cent of parents in the world have a favourite child – and the other five per cent are lying through their teeth”. He adds that parents should stop feeling guilty about this because apparently we are all hard-wired to have a favourite.

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It is a debate that has been longstanding in society and a quick Google search shows many mums searching the internet for answers to questions like, “Does anyone else have grandparents who have favourite grandchildren?” and are followed up with pages and pages of comments and discussions about situations deemed as favouritism.

Whether it is right or wrong to have favourites among grandchildren seems rather black and white, but whether it is right to play favourites is another thing. It is interesting to understand whether some grandparents are even aware of their own behaviour in favouritism and have spent time taking account of the relationship they have with each child. Grandparents.com suggests that grandparents should ask their children if they are playing favourites by asking point blank “Am I playing favourites?”, and take on board their feedback carefully. But what if they tell you that you are? Would you modify your behaviour? How important is a balanced relationship with your family to you?

Even the Daily Telegraph quotes research on genetics that apparently encourages a grandparent to offer a more protective effect to the grandchildren they are most closely related to. In an article from 2010, Dr Urban Friburg, of the University of California, and colleagues, are quoted as saying grandparents can “differentially care” for grandchildren based on both their gender and their lineage.

His team developed a mathematical model that shows there is “profound evolutionary consequences” when there is competition among siblings.

So today, we want to open this for discussion. Do you feel a tighter allegiance to one or more of your grandchildren than others? And if so, do you keep your preferences to yourself?