My cousin still loves his parents - if he didn't, he wouldn't care so much about trying to please them. And he (and many of my friends) are pretty successful despite of it. But he doesn't particularly like being around his parents.
If the adult children wanted clarity, they could be more specific, like, "Why did you treat me this way when this happened?" The potential answer is MUCH more helpful than confirming that you were not as loved by your own parents. That's just a rejection of the highest order.
Most parents I know may have a favorite but they either don't admit it or try to hide it. And I think if you can't help but having a favorite, that's the right thing to do.
We are close friends with a family with fraternal twin daughters. The older one looks like dad and younger one looks like mom. The dad made no effort to hide the fact he favored the older twin from day one. He repeatedly told the girls in front of us and other family friends he wished the younger twin looked like the older twin. His blatant favoritism was so obvious I thought he was as immature as a parent could be.
The mom was different. While she privately told my mom she also secretly favored the older one because that child was more easy going, she made a great effort in front of the girls to show she loved them equally. Sometimes she went out of her way to praise the younger girl.
Now both girls are in their mid twenties and guess what? They are both close to their mom and only maintain minimal contact with dad, even the older twin whom the dad favored. Children are smart and know who truly loves them and who looks at them as a piece of prize.
The other day my younger dd was complaining about something ... you know "why does she (meaning the older one) get to do it and I don't?" I answered "obviously because I love her more." The younger just cracked up laughing and said "of course you don't!!" but she realized how silly her complaint was. I guess because we all know they are both equally loved and adored we can joke like that.
"You can get so much of good thing, you can linger too long in your dreams, say good-bye to the oldies but goodies, 'cause the good ole days weren't always good, and tomorrow isn't as bad as it seems" Billy Joel (as quoted by BigBadBob)
I have 3 daughters, 1 is 16 and the twins (identical) are 14. I feel like I have close relationships with all my girls, but I have an especially close relationship with my oldest daughter. My twins are extremely close--best friends--and have always leaned on each other. Last summer, one of my twins was mad at my oldest daughter because my oldest was sort of defending me to the twins who I was having some trouble with. My twin said that my oldest was the "perfect child" and that she was my favorite. I told her that I loved them all the same, that I didn't have a favorite, but that I was close to my oldest because she allows me to be close to her. The same isn't true with my twins because they tend to go to each other more than they come to me, and they are generally not as open with their feelings as my oldest.
This subject is a really hard one for me personally because of what I mentioned above. Also, it's true that my twins are much more difficult than my oldest was, mostly because of personality. It doesn't make me love the twins less, it just makes the dynamic different. Until my twin mentioned that she thought my oldest was my favorite, I had no idea the depth of her feeling (she was very upset). I know that's where I need to work harder so my twins feel equally loved; I have and will continue to do so.
I know I am just going to repeat what many others have said but maybe one more opinion will help:
I don't know why you would LOVE one more than the other? My bf jokingly asks if I love him more than my cat and the truth is that I love them both as much as I can love anyone or anything. There is no rating system going on in my heart. The same is true for my family members. Unless someone did something horrible to me (abuse, for example) then I would continue to love everyone as much as I could.
Now, that being said, it is possible to LIKE one child more than the other. This isn't something that may always be set in stone, one day you may prefer one to the other and then it could all change. That is normal to me and fine. (for example, I like my cat more than 99% of the people I know. Cats are perfect. )
Should you say anything? NO! Why would any sane person ever tell a child they love them less? That is cruel and as someone else said, it says much more about the parent than it does about the child. Should you tell a child if you just like them less? I still say no, not unless there is some actual need for them to know.
"Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher
The point of that article was that you almost can't help having a favorite - but what you do about matters. If you ignore it - you will probably show it. If you acknowledge it, then you can act on it to minimize it.
All this has as premise that you as a parent know that favoritism is bad - if you blatently favors one child and don't care, then I believe you have issues.
And I still think actually loving one child more is rare compared to liking one child better which is extremely common.
Every time you say something stupid on the internet, Tim Berners-Lee punches a kitten.
And the faternal twins case, no wonder why one twin was more easy going than the other.
As to loving one kid more.... You love them all, the do your best to treat them equally... Some are just more fun.... easier for you to be with, any etc.
Other than that... Not every thought or feeling needs to be expressed. Being TOTALLY HONEST may clear your mind... but it really dumps on the other guy!
DH - and that's just my opinion
My mom's really glad she had two girls actually, considering how rambunctious and uncontrollable my cousins were as kids. (Well, the parenting wasn't stellar but still...boys. ) She'd say, "Can you imagine your quiet dad raising boys? Hahahaha!"
What an interesting thread.
One of the best things I ever read in a magazine was in an essay that pointed out different people have different parenting strengths. One woman might be a great mother to infants, another to teenagers.
My mother waited a while to get married and a while to have children. I think if she'd been born 50 years later, she wouldn't have had children, but when she and my father were married, there was a lot of pressure on people to reproduce. My mother was 33 when my brother was born, 36 when I was born. My brother was a paragon of babyhood and childhood, very easy going, very nice, very smart (he still is all those things).
The family joke is if I'd been born first, my parents would never have had a second child. I was difficult from birth. I was also very much like my father, and my brother is very much like my mother.
I remember feeling strongly that my mother favored my brother, and now, decades later, I have the same feelings. My mother didn't understand me, certainly not in those charming years of 10-16. I could have been a space alien, I was that different from her.
But the thing is, it doesn't matter. My mother turned out to be the best parent of grownups I've ever known. Our relationship perked up when I started college, and it's been wonderful ever since.
She turned 100 a few months ago. I talk to her daily on the phone and visit her a couple of times a week, and she glows when she sees me, as she does when she sees my brother.
Parents change. Children change. Relationships change. What's true at twelve isn't necessarily true at thirty.
My parents definitely favored my younger brother. My sister was the straight A student, I was the problem child, younger brother 1 was the Golden Boy, younger brother 2 was the baby. My father never admitted that this was the case, but when I was 11 I called my mother on it and she had no problem telling me that I was right. And why. I resented the hell out of it when we were kids but that changed once he went to college and we've been very close ever since. He's still the acknowledged favorite, but we can laugh about it now. Being the favorite child of my parents isn't exactly a blessing.
"...some people are moulded by their admiration, others by their hostilities.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
Family dynamics are so interesting. Whenever I talk to siblings individually about their shared family, I can barely believe they grew up in the same household. The same cast of characters, but a totally different plot.... I used to think it was just my family, but it's more prevalent than I realized.
I think there are always going to be special bonds within families. If the highs you feel are a bit higher and the lows you feel are a bit lower for one child, do you really love them more, or are you just more emotionally connected to them (or is that the same thing)? Even if you do love one child more, does loving one child more necessarily mean loving another less? I'm not convinced it's a zero sum game.
I'm obsessively fair with my niece and nephew -- in terms of time spent with each, dollars spent on gifts, ensuring "equal opportunity," etc. But there's one who tugs on my heartstrings a bit harder, who makes me hold my breath a little longer, and whose accomplishments make my heart soar a little higher.
Does that mean I love one of them more? Maybe, I don't know. I don't think it's outwardly visible (I've never been called on it by adults or by the children), and I'm acutely aware and control for it. Whatever it is, I don't think it's wrong.
Would I ever admit it? Maybe, to the one who has more of an effect on me, but only if I felt it would serve a needed psychological benefit. I would not mention it to the other one.
It was in my family. My brother was far the favoured child, the prodigal Jewish son. This was clear to my sister and I from as far back and we can remember, although she and I are 10 years apart and therefore experienced very different family dynamics. We always said the he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, could never do wrong as far as mom and dad were concerned (though ultimately this didn't serve him well)
There are many situations where boys are favoured more than girls today, although I hope that's a dying tradition in our society.
But even then, I'm sure there are favoured children in my families be they boys or girls. And that the less-favoured know it, even if it's not explicitly acknowledged.
I think the poster above who said dynamics change and feelings change is correct too. I know when I was growing up; I felt a lot closer to my Youngest (baby) brother. Now I'll be honest and say I'm a lot closer to my middle brother. Maybe ten years from now it will change again.
I think at the end of the day, we can't always choose our feelings. We don't even get to really change our feelings. But we can help is our actions. And frankly that goes for any scenario in life when you think about it.