Dr. Violeta Bautista, Ph.D., psychologist and family therapist, explains that preference is determined by a combination of factors: • Personal History. “Sometimes it has to do with the personal issue of the parent. The mother or father wasn’t able to study so he puts all hopes on the one who seems to be the brightest,” says Dr. Bautista. • Connection. Generally, mothers become closer to the sibling who understands her the most, the most helpful, the one who makes her feel light-hearted and happy when overwhelmed by work and domestic concerns. Often, bonding or close attachment between mother and child begins as early as infancy. • Gender and Culture. Favoritism could be rooted in gender, too, Dr. Bautista adds. “It depends on your culture and your values.”
Dr. Bautista also says, “You may be close to the same-sex parent within a certain period of time for identification purposes. Then eventually you get fascinated with the opposite gender; thus, you’ll grow closer to the parent of the opposite gender, too,” she surmises.
Drawbacks Oftentimes, favoritism spurs hatred on the part of the one being neglected. This leads to various behavioral and psychological problems that can be carried on into adolescence and adulthood. “When a child is having doubts of her parents’ love for her, she may feel resentment toward the sibling being favored.”
The one who is always praised may grow up thinking he or she is better than others; becoming arrogant and spoiled. Dr. Bautista continues, “And then they get used to being the center of attention. So ’pag nawawala na sa kanila, they don’t know what to do—they’re lost. It can even lead to depression.”
A favorite child may be deemed as “the most intelligent, the brightest—the golden child,” but he/she may actually need support in areas that the parents have failed to see, simply because they see only the good things in the favored child.
The same goes with the other children. “Because you are so taken up by your favorite child, you don’t see the needs of the other children.,” Dr. Bautista shares. Consequently, it breeds anxiety, distrust, resentment, and hatred.
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