Monday, October 20, 2014

I Have a Favourite Child But I'm Not Allowed to Admit It

The other night I broke one of the cardinal rules of parenting.

I admitted I had a favourite child.

Image result for favourite child image

The looks on the faces of the two people I was talking to made it quite clear that I had stepped over a line, as was their comment ‘you should never say that, Shannon’ which also was quite to the point.

Not for one second does admitting you have a favourite mean you don’t love all your children. It doesn’t even mean you don’t love all your children equally, that you wouldn’t fight for them if they needed you, that you wouldn’t jump in front of a bus for them. Because I would.

It’s just – at the moment – I understand one better than the others. No one would bat an eyelid if I said ‘I love all desserts, but my favourite is crème brulee.’ And I don’t just eat crème brulee, because that would be boring and fattening: I still eat icecream and pudding and pie and cake and waffles. Because they’re fattening too.  Equally, I would never actively promote one child above the others, or tell them any of this. And I promise that is where the small child/dessert comparison will end.

I have had numerous, eye-rollingly frustrating conversations with The Bombshell about this very topic.

‘Whose your favourite, Mum?’ she would ask hopefully as I tucked her into bed.

I would kiss her forehead and say in that tone all mums use, ‘I don’t have a favourite. You’re all my favourites.’ And then I would stand there and think ‘I should really write a book about that’ and then I’d remember that someone already has.

‘But if you had to choose,’ she would press. ‘Who would it be?’

And I would give her that annoying, condescending smile that all mothers use and walk out of the room.

But honestly, if I had to choose:

My favourite person to hug is probably Baldy, because she is still small enough to pick up, and she holds on like a baby koala, so sometimes I don’t even need to hold her, because she is already holding me so tight. She is excited about little things and that excitement is contagious and energising. (And she likes to make people kiss each other which is pretty funny.)

My favourite person to cook for is the Curly Mop, because she is adventurous and doesn’t mind real flavour and I love cooking for people who love to eat. She gets excited about dinner and likes to talk about food which is one of my favourite subjects. And she ate $40 worth of sashimi last Christmas, which is kind of impressive for a three year old. (Just as long as she doesn’t do it again this year.)

My favourite person to talk with is the Bombshell because she is happy to chat about history and culture and people and all these topics which I sometimes wonder might beyond her seven years, but then she asks such pertinent questions and I am amazed by her empathy and intelligence. (And because she helps me with the washing and watering the garden while we are talking about worldly things.)

I don’t think there is anything controversial in saying this, because it is clear that a lot of what motivates my preferences is the age of my daughters.

I believe that you don’t really choose who you fall in love with. You can try to love someone, but that doesn’t mean things will click. And so with your children, sometimes you might just click with one more than another. It’s a function of age and personality and gender and timing and how much sleep you had the night before. And it changes constantly and regularly.

Kids always get to say they have a favourite parent and no one chastises them. I don’t doubt for a second that my kids love me even though Daddy is their favourite because he makes them pancakes and plays silly games and takes them trampolining. When he makes me pancakes, he’s totally my favourite too.

So while I am probably not wrong to recognise that at this point in time there is a child I prefer more (mostly because she is the one who annoys me the least) and that this preference will probably be different tomorrow, I realise that I probably should not have admitted it (especially not after a few glasses of champagne. And especially not in public.)

Do you have a favourite child?


  1. I have 2 and they are both my favorite when they sleep! The little is my favorite for cuddling and for watching. My oldest is my favorite when it comes to books and activities. I don't think I've ever admitted it, but it is true.

    1. Great point, who ever sleeps the best is my favourite (or whoever allows me to sleep). And thank you for admitting that you have favourites too!

  2. I've thought about writing a similar thing on my blog, but I can't in case my kids read it, so I'll write it on yours.

    I don't believe I have a favourite child, but I often have a 'least' favourite. This changes, depending on who won't do their homework without a fuss, or who won't eat what I've cooked for dinner. Basically, it's the one who's causing trouble at the time.

    My biggest problem, and it has caused me much guilt, is that I have one child with whom I have very little in common. She and I are poles apart in our interests—I like reading and learning and the bush and the ocean, and have no interest in clothes or cooking. She likes make-up and fashion and nail polish and baking, and has no interest in studying or nature. It makes it very hard to relate as we share little common ground. I force myself to go shopping with her and spend hours traipsing around the shopping centres wearing a fake smile, as she tries on dozens of shoes, all with 10cm heels, all looking the same, and all equally as uncomfortable and the opposite of something I'd choose. I even went with her and got a pedicure and facial, and if you know me, I find it excruciating to sit for a couple of hours and do nothing.

    The one love we do share is music, and at the moment that is where we meet and about the only thing keeping us bonded.

    Parenting is so hard and it's completely understandable that you have more in common with one child than another. I, personally, don't call that favouritism—it's just shared interests and personality differences. I've spoken to mothers whose daughters are grown and have their own families, and they say the same thing. The funny thing is, the child they felt they had least in common with while they were growing up, they often now feel the closest to.

    I don't know if any of this relates to your topic, or helps, and I've probably gone off on a tangent, but I think it's a good topic to bring up. It's understandable that you feel closer to one child than the others, and totally forgivable, so don't beat yourself up.

    1. PS. I absolutely adore my daughter.

      PPS. I also know that a daughter with these interests might be another mother's dream-child—someone to go shopping with and for!

    2. Actually Louise I think your reply is spot on... maybe my thinking a child is a favourite is simply a reflection of not 'getting' the other one(s). I keep hoping that since mine are so little, maybe it's just the alienness of utter youth and that one day I will not find them so completely annoying and 'other'.

      I think it's interesting that you also say that as children grow up and become adults, it's the ones you had least in common with as children that you are closest to now. It means there is still hope.

      What concerns me sometimes is that I see myself in all of my girls, but I 'prefer' the child who has my nicer qualities and traits, and the things I hate about myself and see in my other daughter, frustrates me. I feel I need to work harder with her, which makes me more anxious that I am getting it right and not letting my frustration show.

      Thanks Louise, I always love hearing from other mums who share the same experiences.

  3. I have two beautiful daughters. My oldest will be 3 in march, and in only a few more days in January my youngest will be 1. Some days I have a favorite because she is the leas fussy one at the moment haha. My youngest is so goofy and she's a ham and loves attention. She's squishy and Trenton good to kiss on. My oldest is so smart. I can have conversations with her and the silly stuff she says. She is more apt to cuddle than her sister NOW. She used to hate cuddles like her sister does now. They are both my sweet precious girls.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...