Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Who's the Favorite Now?

The cover story for this month's issue of TIME is "Playing Favorites," an article adapted from the book The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveals About Us. The author, Jeffrey Kluger, writes about the inevitable act of parents favoring one child over another. It is also inevitable, he says, that parents will deny they have a favorite, but they do have one, and siblings know it. Usually favored are the oldest children, simply because parents have invested the most resources into them. The more attractive and stronger children usually get parents' attention, too. And what of gender? Kluger explains that mothers favor first-born sons and fathers favor youngest daughters.

The article got me thinking about my own family and my parents' favorites. I think we would all agree that my mother favored my oldest brother Brooks. My sisters and I even turned it into a joke by putting our hands in the shape of halos over our heads whenever mom mentioned something he said. My dad, on the other hand, favored my two older sisters. Things changed somewhat when my second-oldest sister developed juvenile diabetes. When that happened, she was the clear favorite. But why?

"Favoring the most vulnerable child is a counterintuitive choice, at least in survival terms," Kluger says. However, in evolutionary terms, spreading care around "in the hope of maximizing the raw number of offspring that survive" is at play, too. "This can mean not just remembering to treat the weakest of your offspring equally but favoring them, since they're the ones that need the help."

For my diabetic sister, that meant the most hugs and concerned and loving looks from my dad.

Lucky for me, it's also the reason I am now the clear favorite of both my parents. :) Here's why: I am the only single child left. Everyone else has someone to love them. Everyone else has clearly succeeded, and my parents don't have to worry about them anymore. I, however, am all alone in a big city. To my parents, I am vulnerable, and as such, they shower their compassion -- and favoritism -- on me. It's a good spot to be in. ;)

Thing I'm thankful for: allergies instead of colds


Blogger Unknown said...

There is always a different perspective on things. I am the only unmarried person in my family but in my family children aren't the important thing, grandchildren.

4:25 PM  
Blogger bh said...

I like to think we have some control over being the favorite or not. I innately understand my dad better than the others, but I also worked really hard to have a good relationship with him. Without my efforts, I don't think I'd have such clear favorite status.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

my parents are really good at not showing favoritism, but we all know that everyone's favorite (not just the parents) is emily. because she is beautiful and talented and smart and most of all... normal. and she has no faults. the rest of us are just a little too quirky (among other things). she is the clear winner.

but i will say that with my mom's mom, i am definitely the favorite. because i'm the baby. i'll always be the baby.

ps- congrats on your promotion to top favorite!

7:57 PM  
Blogger cardlady said...

Oh SARA! You know I don't have any favorites. I told you all, individually, once, that you were my favorite. hahahahhahahh But we are concerned about you and do shower more upon you right now!

1:01 PM  

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