Were you the favorite child of your parents? Did you think they liked you best because of who you were or what you did? I hope you have had a playful argument with your siblings in whom each one claimed they are the favorite and can even provide anecdotal evidence to prove it.
I also hope you have never had the feeling that you were not the favorite. Yet, sadly, I know that this happens every day. It doesn’t make sense. It is not right. It is not fair. I think it may not even be a conscious effort. But it happens and I cannot explain it. I am sorry if this has been your experience and I hope that it will change.
I do know there were days and times when I was not pleased with a particular child and even had times when I did not “like” one of my own children. But I still deeply loved them and that is what I clung to when I was unhappy with their (pick any one of the following: behavior, attitude, choices, character, anger, outbursts, tantrums, language, etc ). I think every parent goes through this struggle at some point because they do not have perfect children and they are not perfect parents.
I do know that true favoritism in a family is not good. It can cause great harm to the not chosen. It can instigate jealousy and resentment between siblings. It can permanently divide families.
Last weekend my youngest son, age 21, and I were discussing a Bible lesson he was preparing for some teenagers. His text was from Genesis 37, which is the introduction to the story of Joseph and his 11 brothers. Joseph was Dad’s favorite and this nearly cost him his life. Our discussion reminded me of a poem I read years ago and was able to find. Thank you, google.
MY FAVORITE CHILD – BY ERMA BOMBECK
Every mother has a favorite child. She cannot help it. She is only human. I have mine – the child for whom I feel a special closeness, with whom I share a love that no one else could possibly understand. My favorite child is the one who was too sick to eat ice cream at his birthday party – who had measles at Christmas – who wore leg braces to bed because he toed in – who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack, the child in my arms at the emergency ward.
My favorite child spent Christmas alone away from the family, was stranded after the game with a gas tank on E, lost the money for his class ring.
My favorite child is the one who messed up at the piano recital, misspelled committee in a spelling bee, ran the wrong way with the football, and had his bike stolen because he was careless.
My favorite child is the one I punished for lying, grounded for insensitivity to other people’s feelings, and informed he was a royal pain to the entire family.
My favorite child slammed the doors in frustration, cried when she didn’t think I saw her, withdrew and said she could not talk to me.
My favorite child always needed a haircut, had hair that wouldn’t curl, had no date for Saturday night, and a car that cost $600 to fix. My favorite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered, and self-centered. He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in the world, and quite wonderful.
All mothers have their favorite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse charges to, to unload on – but mostly just to be there.
I suggest we follow Erma’s example for choosing a favorite. My poem version would be something like this:
My favorite child is the one who brought head lice home. It is the one who jumped off the roof. It is the one who totaled their car, the one we left behind, the one that needed to held daily.
My favorite child is the one wearing a cast again or the one whose best friend is moving away. It is the one struggling to read and the one who is afraid to drive.
My favorite child is the one who just talked with me for an hour or with whom I have had an argument. It is the one I am with.