Trans4mind Home Page

How Harmful is Parental Favouritism?

What are the long-term psychological effects of favouring one child over another?
How often have you heard a child complain, "But that's not fair! He always gets his own way"? Although sibling rivalry is common, how is a child's mental well-being and your relationship affected when your spouse so very obviously favours one child over another?

Some parents may show favouritism subconsciously by taking sides depending on the gender or age of the child. Do the seemingly harmless expressions, "You're older, you ought to know better" or "I always wanted a son" sound familiar?

Favourtism not only occurs in the stepfamily situation where a parent favours a biological child over a stepchild, but also occurs in first families when a child can be given preferential treatment based purely on gender.

Interior Designer and former editor of Parent's Voice, Nadine Higgins, said, "'I remember as a child all too well the painful distinctions my mother made between we girls and her beloved boys and it's an experience that you don't leave behind very easily. The ghost of her nagging disapproval, slaps, put downs and unfair house rules still live within me as an adult."

Parental favouritism not only affects the children, but also causes conflict within the parents' relationship. Relationship Counsellor Paula Hall Dip PST says, "Certainly, parental favouritism in second families is a common reason why families seek counselling, but it is important to establish whether the perceived favouritism is a reflection on your own childhood, or reality. Some people who were disfavoured as children go to extreme lengths not to favour any of their own children, so may feel that their partner is giving preferential treatment to a child when they are just treating them differently according to their individual personalities and interests."

PR Consultant, Sarah, has sadly experienced the marital discord that parental favouritism causes. "My husband Graeme's favouritism of our natural child over my son from a previous relationship led to a rift that deepened over the years. My son felt increasingly rejected, so he hated his sister. My son is 16 and is now able to tell me that, as an 8-year-old, he felt he had to compete for my husband's affection. My husband has recently left and the favouritism was one of the major factors that divided the family."

Dr Caron Goode, Inspirational Speaker and Author of Help Kids Cope with Stress & Trauma says, "Favoured children tend to have better self esteem, yet can also be spoiled and manipulative. These children may think the world owes them a living. On the other hand, with healthy self-esteem, they could tend to be high achievers and do well. Disfavoured children tend to have lower self-esteem, which can either make them try harder or give up too easily. Trying to please is one of the characteristics that might make them either compliant or rebellious. It can go either way, depending upon the temperament of the child."

Paula Hall concludes, "If favouritism is an issue in your relationship, you need to try to sit down with your partner and discuss what impact this is having on you, rather than using the time to arbitrate for your child. If this fails, then I would advise seeking counselling."

Relate General Information Line (UK): Telephone: (lo-call) 0845 456 1310 or 01788 573241

About the Author
Jan Andersen is a British freelance writer and mother of four children. Her youngest three children are aged 17, 15 and 3. Jan's eldest son, Kristian tragically died on 1 November 2002 at the age of 20, as a result of which she has just launched a new supportive website for families who have lost a child to suicide: Jan specialises in humorous, satirical and thought-provoking articles, essays and columns on diverse topics, from relationships, parenting and women's issues, to psychology, health and social issues. She also owns and run Mothers Over 40, an inspirational and supportive site for older parents and those considering midlife pregnancy.

From our extensive site, you'll find good info on many topics using this search:

Support your personal development with these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

  • Public Speaking Fear ~ Banish speaking anxiety and nerves with hypnosis.
  • Motivate Yourself to Exercise ~ Build a powerful exercise habit that you can't break.
  • Get Rid of Fear & Anxiety ~ Stop worry and apprehension wrecking your life.
  • Self Esteem ~ Break the negative trance of low self esteem and give yourself a chance in life.
  • Create Your Own Reality ~ Use the power of your unconscious mind to transform your life.
  • Deeper Self Respect ~ Use hypnosis to connect with your true inner worth.
  • Detach From Fear ~ Tune out nervousness and anxiety with hypnosis.
  • Improving Concentration and Focus ~ Learn how to discipline, direct and command your mind to improve your performance.
  • Exercise Motivation ~ Give you powerful keys to getting back on track with your exercise - and staying there.
  • Overcoming Shyness ~ Provides an invisible security blanket allowing you to develop social ease and overcome shyness.
  • Quick Confidence Booster ~ An audio hypnosis session that's specifically designed to get you (quickly!) back on track.
  • Stop Negative Thoughts ~ Learn powerful hypnotic techniques to stop negative thoughts before they start.
  • Overcoming Procrastination ~ Let hypnosis help you get on with what you need to do, when you need to do it. Let nothing hold you back.
  • Think Thin ~ Use hypnosis to re-train your brain and lose weight naturally... that's how to get and stay slim.
  • Fall Asleep Fast ~ Relearn how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a good night's sleep.
  • The Next Level ~ Designed to radically boost your performance in any field. It's based on a technique used by top athletes and other successful people to help them make a big stride forward.
This is our selection of favorites, but there's a session for every need! Choose from over 800 Hypnosis Downloads...
Search now on an issue that interests or concerns you...

View all the Hypnosis Downloads here

The New Wave in Meditation Technology

Click here to learn more about the iAwake Profound Meditation Program
The iAwake Profound Meditation Program
is a way of enhancing your meditation practice, making meditation not only easier and more enjoyable, but also more efficient and effective.
Profound Meditation provides the smoothest, deepest, richest, most profound meditation experience available anywhere...
Here is a link to a free 20-minute track from iAwake Technologies - a sample of the type of tools that will deepen your meditation immediately and help you quickly become a successful meditator. It's the opening track of iAwake's flagship product, the Profound Meditation Program, called the iAwake Experience...
Learn More and Download the iAwake Experience
We think you'll find this technology a tremendous aid on your transformative journey of becoming your best and most creative self - and you can get started today!
Copyright © 1997-2018 Trans4mind Ltd