In the last few days I became uncomfortably aware of an article doing the rounds promoting the notion that parents have a favourite child (apparently there's a guy promoting a book about sibling rivalry, which I don't need to read.  I have three brothers and three sisters and basically we learned to eat fast and run faster).
While it's an intriguing topic, it initially had me running screaming to my favourite river in Africa (Denial) with my hands over my ears and my eyes squeezed shut.
But it got me thinking.
I really  feckin hate when that happens.




While I was doing the damn dailies (housework in  Dr Phil-speak) the question popped into my head with unwelcome frequency, clawing the inside of my head for an answer.
Do I have a favourite kid?
How is anyone vaguely human supposed to answer that? 
Give them a gun with three chambers and two bullets and may the best (and favourite) child win?

It took me a few days (the cerebral cogs are pretty rusty) before I realised that it's a really stupid question.
For most parents. 
I'm sure there are some who do favour a particular child, may they be forever cursed with frizzy hair and bad shoes.
But most of us don't.

I hold my hands up to treating my kids differently.
Not to the extent that one will get a sorrowful "tut, tut" for burning down a school while another will be grounded for eternity for smelling a bit strange, but I am mindful that I use different approaches with the three of them  in response to similar situations.
But that's because they're different people, not because I prefer one to the other.
For example, Jimmy (14) will give me a big old bear hug after we have a row, we'll have a chat and then all is well with the world.  Ellen (11) on the other hand, practically needs to be sedated if I raise my voice an octave  to her.  Ergo, while it's not useful or productive to yell at Ellen, sometimes I have to bellow like a dying ass at Jimmy just to get him to register my existence.
Every evening I line up a small row of sweets on the table as an incentive for Finian (7) to do his homework...much as my older sproglets would love if I did this for them, I expect them to complete their homework without the need for a dangling carrot (or *ahem* less wholesome, but much more attractive, sweets).  This could be misconstrued as favouritism, but it's nothing more than employing different tactics with different kids  to produce the same result.
(disclaimer; to my knowledge, none of my offspring have been involved in the conflagration of any educational institutes.  Please don't sue me.)

My obsessive brain is incapable of of just letting an uncomfortable topic go, so I tried to be logical and reason that perhaps we favour the child who is most likely to survive to adulthood and produce grandchildren.
So far, so Darwin-tastic.
But that doesn't explain the intense protectiveness we feel for our special needs kids, who are  unlikely to grace us with grandchildren and who may leapfrog past us into an early grave due to underlying ill health or risky behaviour (feel free to refer to my last post about playing chicken with traffic).
Plus to the onlooker it could appear that I favour Finian as his autism demands that I spend way more time with him than I do with my other kids.  Most of that time is spent preventing him from killing himself, but it's extra time and attention nonetheless.
So that  throws that one out the window.


So I have a conspiracy theory, which is much more fun.
I wonder if it's possible that psychotherapists are planting these stories to ensure a future steady income when our adult kids flock to them with their bruised egos.  It seems to me that they suggest that, from the outset, parenthood is an exercise in damage limitation.
Maybe the recession is hurting them too and they feel it necessary to toss a psychological grenade into the family unit to ensure a steady stream of future punters.





So I have an answer to that question.
It's a stupid question, so stop asking it (erm, except for the  parents actually do favour a child...those kids are allowed see a therapist).
Parenthood is hard enough without being whacked around the head by some psycho-babbling guilt-merchant.




...although, the devil in me is tempted to gather  my Little Dears around me and reassure them by saying "Darlings, you have no need to fret.  I hate you all equally."

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Tags: autism, favouritism, guilt, parental

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