When a parent favors one child over other children, an environment of favoritism can develop within the family. There may be assorted reasons behind a parent bonding more with one child, but the effects can be detrimental for the entire family. If favoritism exists, take steps to resolve it to prevent lasting harm from occurring.
Displays of Favoritism
Favoritism might appear subtly in a family or it could be more blatant. Possible indications of favoritism include spending more time with one child and excluding others, giving more privileges to one child and showing more affection to a specific child, according to social psychologist Ilan Shrira, writing for Psychology Today. Favoritism might also manifest itself as punishing or disciplining one child less than your other children.
When children perceive that one child receives preferential treatment, all of them may bristle at the unfairness of the situation, warns the Dr. Phil website. Because children often have strong sense of justice and fairness, both the slighted children and the favored child likely notice the imbalanced parenting.
Mistrust from Uncertainty
It’s possible that the favoritism isn’t a static situation, which means that sometimes one child may receive preferential treatment and other times he might not. When inconsistency occurs, children may develop mistrust that stems from uncertainty about how a parent will discipline and interact. Will this be a time that one child receives preferential treatment or will everyone receive fair treatment this time?
Favoring one child may create unpleasant issues between children where the disfavored children resent the favored child and the favored child might feel guilty. If a parent compares children with one child coming out on top every time, children will naturally become competitive, warns counselor Richard D. Dobbins. Resentment and anger may simmer between siblings when one child consistently receives preferential treatment.
Children who are not favored may suffer greatly, both during childhood and on into adulthood, according to Shrira. Children may have issues with self-esteem and they could experience struggles with maintaining relationships as adults. Deep-seated issues with jealousy and feelings of unworthiness can continue to haunt a child throughout life.