I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend a few days ago, about whether parental favoritism is a thing. Our conversation led me to do research because I had never paid much attention to this topic and I wanted to hear what people/research and science had to say. At the time, I had nothing but a hug for my dear friend. I have a little sister so I sympathize with her, to some extent. I asked her if I could share our conversation on the blog, she obliged, as long as I don’t use her name that is.
My friend is in her last year at Cal State, where she has been living for the past four years. “Coming home used to be a burden, but this time it was different. I hadn’t seen my family in 7 months and I was really excited to come home. My mom … lets just say she and I have never really had a great relationship,” she said. “My mom and I had been talking more on FaceTime while I was away and I was convinced that our reunion was going to be magical. This time I was actually looking forward to going home. The reunion wasn’t magical, and it hurt me deeply. I feel like our relationship works best when I’m in school, away from home. My little brother is the center of their world, and I feel like a spectator. It’s a miracle if I can finish a sentence without an interruption from my little brother which automatically gets a response from my parents without even stopping to think twice about hearing me speak. Ohh and it’s by divine intervention if my parents get back to me to hear what I wanted to say. I recently attended my brother’s gymnastics class, which was really fun actually. We sat for 20 minutes (and yes I was counting) in the parking lot in our car watching the very same thing that I had just watched my little brother do in his class. I kid you not, we went to lunch and while munching on our smoothie bowls, we sat there watching the very same videos we had watched in the car, and the very same thing I watched my brother do in his gymnastics class.”
I’ve never thought about this question before, I’ve never really had to. I did some research when I got home and the results were quite interesting to be honest, not in a positive way though. But then again, what was I expecting? That a flawed human heart would deny itself of the sweet aromatic option of choosing what and who is worthy of x amount of love and who isn’t? What is fairness to an imperfect heart after all? Here’s a snapshot of what The National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) had to say about parental favoritism. The article costs $11, and I aint about that life. After studying 384 families (not sure about the demographics/age/census of the research), the study concluded that adolescent aged kids were more likely to respond to parental favoritism as having a negative impact on them. However, the researchers concluded that the negative response to the study was due to sibling perception and not necessarily parental treatment. These results came as an annoyance in my life because I wished for a straight forward study and results. But I was knee deep at this point. From the little I gathered from this article, it would seem that the feeling that one’s parents have a preferential treatment toward one child is linked to family dynamics? The relationship that siblings have? Hmmm… now I wish I bought the darn article – it would be nice to find out what the study concluded and how they arrived at it. I read another article or a citation rather, on the Huffington Post, link below. Long story short, “the research, published in the Journal of Family Psychology in 2005, revealed that 74 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers reported preferential treatment toward one child, according to Quartz.” Hashtag, what! All the articles I read confirmed that parental favoritism is a thing, regardless of how the research is conducted and the conclusion drawn from them. Let’s continue with the conversation.
“My brother has my parents attention and there’s no room for me in their hearts, in our conversations and in our home. My dad and I used to be close, I considered him my best friend at one point. His opinion and counsel I respected. Him I could wake up anytime of the day and he would effortlessly wake up to hear my latest peculiar joke. He took me out for breakfast every morning at 6am my first quarter in college. Of course I wished my mom joined us, but she had a “hard” time waking up that early, and she and I grew more apart. My relationship with my dad changed when I had a really pressing question while doing my school assignment, now I don’t know what was going on with him that night but he told me to “google it,” without even looking at me. It’s not even then google it part that hurt me, it was the way in which he said it. It felt like he pulled the rug under my feet. I was probably sent into a sudden shock because the response was unexpected and unfamiliar to me. And since then, we’ve had our ups and more downs. I was really looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, instead, it turned into the regular regretful visits home. When I got home, I could see that my mom was struggling to walk, did she break her leg? Does she have a sprain? Is her back troubling her? Does she have some sort of an infection? The questions where endless but I couldn’t ask what was going on with her because of our relationship, and our family is not one to share between each other. I just want my mom,” she says as she tears up, and that brought an end to my friend’s sharing. It was now my turn to speak.
I was speechless. I had nothing to say, I couldn’t think of a comforting verse to say and so I prayed. As you will come to know, I pray about everything. When I’m sad, I pray. When I’m celebrating good news, I pray. When I have nothing to say, I pray. I pray, I pray, I pray. My prayer is that my friend will find a way to reach out to her parents, both with honesty and consideration. In other words, take responsibility for the times when her own attitude may have intensified the solitude between she and her parents, whilst being able to openly say “mom, dad this is what is happening/happened and it hurt me.” I learned this way of responding to conflict from a lady named Fawn Weave from her Happy Wives Club book, in which she encourages people to step away from their negative emotions such as anger and really get to the bottom of WHY the person is feeling sad or hurt and express what happened that triggered the feelings. As opposed to “conversations” that include “it’s your fault,” “you did this,” which come from a place of anger.
Above all else, you are loved my dear.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂