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Detrimental Effects of Favouritism In Families and How To Eradicate It


Siblings frequently make fun of being Mom’s favourite. However, a new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family demonstrates that parents favouring their children is no laughing matter. 70% of mothers who responded to the study said they had a favourite child. While this is alarming, we should be concerned about the long-term implications of favouritism in families.

Children have an innate need for their parent’s love, care, and support. Children are motivated when their parents encourage them, and they are demotivated when they are not. Parents frequently offer disproportionate attention to their younger children while neglecting their older children. Parents in mixed households prefer their biological children over stepchildren, yet in patriarchal settings, parents show intense fondness for the male child.

Favouritism in families especially towards one child over another has an impact on their mental well-being. A neglected youngster is extremely likely to lose self-esteem, get melancholy, and lose faith in themselves as they grow. This, in turn, has an impact on their academic performance and intellectual development.

As a result, parents must exercise tremendous caution and treat all of their children equally. So, let’s take a look at some of the negative consequences of favouritism in families as well as how to eradicate it.

Definition Of Favouritism In Families?

Did your sister always receive better gifts than you? Did your younger brother receive all of the attention? These are instances of favouritism in families. Favouritism in a family occurs when one or both parents consistently favour one child over another.

More time spent together, less punishment, and more privileges can all be part of it. As parents, we normally try to maintain objectivity and treat all of our children fairly. But that task is far more difficult than it appears.

Why Do Parents Have A Preference?

Your first child is a tiny girl who looks exactly like you. As she matures into a young lady, you see that her demeanour, behaviour, and attitude mirror your own. You are pleased to recognize yourself in her. And, even if you don’t mean to, you will favour her.

The favourite is either the oldest child or the infant. Your firstborn has a particular place in your heart, and the infant needs continual care. Parents may have a special bond with their children who have illnesses or special needs.

In these circumstances, parents will frequently address the varied treatment with all of their children to ensure that they understand it is not personal. As a child, it still feels personal.

You can fight the natural desire to prefer one child by being mindful of your behaviours and conscious of your judgments.

What Are The Consequences Of Favouritism In Families?

Growing up in a family of parental favouritism has major long-term consequences, according to Mallory Williams, LCSW.

“The main long-term concerns for both favoured and non-favoured youngsters include sadness, anxiety, unstable or even traumatic reactions in personal relationships, and performance anxiety,” Williams explains.

She also addresses self-esteem issues and emotions of rejection as the youngster grows into adulthood.

“The non-preferred child will have poor self-worth and value, emotions of rejection and inadequacy, and a sense of “giving up” because they believe they will never be deserving of the same attention, love, and care as the favoured child. This frequently has long-term consequences for their performance at work, in school, and in interpersonal relationships, because the parenting relationship “lays the basis and expectations for future interactions,” according to Williams.

Also Read: Choosing A Parenting Style

Feeling neglected can lead to a more autonomous outlook on life, which is a surprising impact of parental partiality. They are not dependent on their parents. They don’t require anyone. While some independence is normally beneficial, this mindset usually leads to isolation.

While being the favourite child may appear to be a piece of cake, it is far from it. Being favoured almost always involves being despised by the other youngsters. Without even attempting it, the parents’ unequal attention damages sibling relationships.

Williams claims that she has witnessed problems occur for favoured youngsters on a regular basis. Parents are frequently startled because there appears to be no reason for them to be affected.

“Because of the adulation and preference they receive, they frequently struggle with the failure of any type,” Williams explains. “They frequently feel so much pressure to maintain their star performance that they believe there is no tolerance for error.” They are also prone to rejection or a hostile connection, at the very least, with the non-favoured sibling, and find it difficult to mend such a relationship, given that they contributed nothing to the issue.”

Long-Term Effects of Favouritism In Families


1. Favoured Children Develop Into Spoiled Brats.

Children who are frequently petted tend to develop into spoilt brats. They can throw unneeded tantrums, demand excessive gifts, and exhibit obstinate behaviour from childhood. Favoured youngsters may have a sense of superiority and believe they can break the rules. This can have a negative impact on their capacity to maintain connections, as well as their behaviour at school, a job, and even in friendships.

2. Sibling Rivalry

As a parent, you may unintentionally encourage rivalry between your children by showing favouritism. The child that receives less favouritism is more prone to develop a rivalry with his sibling. During his or her childhood, a jealous child may even attempt to damage or injure his or her sibling. When interacting with their children, parents must remember that all children require equal attention and love.

3. Self-esteem And Stress

When one child is shown favouritism, the other youngster suffers unrequited stress. A child’s self-esteem can suffer as a result of the emotion or perception of being the least favourite. 

For example, describing one of your children as brilliant or intellectual may encourage unneeded and unhealthy competition among the children, with one always trying to put the other down. 

In adulthood, the less fortunate youngster may still lack self-esteem and so be unable to function successfully at work.

4. Emotional Consequences

People rarely forget that their parents did not treat them fairly. Children who have been neglected may develop resentment toward the parent who has shown favouritism. Furthermore, such youngsters are more prone to engage in aggressive and improper behaviour at school and with their siblings. A lack of parental affirmation and affection may leave an unfillable hole in their lives. Children might also show signs of depression at a young age.

5. Talents Are Stifled

When you favour one of your children because he or she is talented, the less fortunate child suppresses his or her talents. Because of a lack of encouragement and support, individuals begin to question their abilities, suppress their gifts, and fail to reach their full potential. Psychologists believe that an emotionally healthy youngster will desire to show off his or her talents and will learn faster. Never encourage or reward only one of your children to show off their talents. Encourage all of the children to give their best effort.

6. Avoiding Social Situations

Children are expected to behave appropriately at social gatherings and activities. They are supposed to welcome and wish the seniors, as well as respond to dialogues. The unfavourable child may withdraw and respond poorly. Due to a lack of self-confidence, young children tend to lack social skills as they grow older. According to experts, disadvantaged children may grow up believing that they are not good enough.

How To Eradicate Favouritism In Families

In order to eradicate favouritism in families, there are some critical steps you must take

1. Determine Your Child’s Love Language

Even though parents try to love their children equally, the manner in which they are expressed can vary. However, keep in mind that some children may not feel loved at all if their parents do not demonstrate love in the way that they require.

This is why determining each child’s unique love language is critical. This necessitates paying attention and spending time alone with each child. Inability to grasp each child’s style can sometimes lead to parental favouritism. In actuality, if one child is more difficult to raise than another, the parent may be rougher with that child.

Observing how they give love is another approach to learning their love language. This is because the way your child expresses love is often how they wish to be loved in return.

2. Spend Individual Time With Each Child

Make time in your busy schedule to spend one-on-one time with each of your children. Maybe a Saturday morning brunch or a Sunday afternoon excursion to the mall. Simple, but deliberate. Create opportunities to be spontaneous. Surprise them with some extra snuggle time, a sketching project, or even teach them board games to help them bond. Spend individual time with each youngster to make them feel unique.

3. Learn To Listen And Take Notes About Your Youngster

Do not always rush to solve a child’s situation. Rather than offering a solution, it is sometimes better to simply listen and provide a hug. You can then work together to figure out how you can assist your youngster in coming up with their own solution.

Begin a parenting journal in which you record how your child shows love and how they want to be loved. Because you may forget certain details, taking a little time to scribble down thoughts might be really beneficial!

Be more deliberate. You may be guilty of favouritism if you find yourself comparing one child to another or preferring to spend more time with one child.

FAQs About Favouritism In Families

What Factors Contribute To Favouritism In Families?

Most times it is because one child is simply easier to parent and be around than another. Also, it could be that one child exhibits desirable characteristics compared to the other.

What Exactly Is Golden Child Syndrome?

When individuals use the term “golden child syndrome,” they are referring to a kid who has been regarded as extraordinary in one way or another by their family—most typically the parents—but the child lacks a foundation for the attributed exceptionality.

How Does Favouritism Affect A Child?

Favouritism can lead to a child’s anger or behaviour problems, increased despair, a lack of self-confidence, and a refusal to communicate properly with others.


You can eradicate favouritism in your family. Just show love equally to each child.

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