Growing up in a Caribbean household means two very different things, even being raised under the same roof by the same people, for daughters verses sons, stemming from the fact that many mothers “baby” their sons while are much harder on their daughters. Even if they are unaware that they are doing so, it is safe to say that there are some thinking biases to how parents respond and react to their child based on their gender. The only fair way to parent is by keeping it an even playing field for everyone. In many ways the style of parenting that doesn’t make the playing field fair can affect their child’s relationships, opportunities and overall quality of life.
In this, perception is everything. We know no parent deliberately means to belittle their own child. In many cases, survival skills are being taught, which should be praised but it’s more about how things are taught than what is actually being learned. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the chosen child or not, the perception of unequal treatment has damaging effects for all siblings. For example, daughters doing the chores while sons get to play. The less favored kids (the one doing the chores) may have ill will toward their mother or preferred sibling, and being the favored child brings resentment from one’s siblings and the added weight of greater parental expectations.
Long-term effects of being the favored child are not all negative. There are, in fact, lots of advantages – including a bolstered self-esteem. The favorite child often grows up feeling confident and powerful with an attitude of ‘I can get things done.
The overlooked child, who didn’t have to do the ‘pleasing dance,’ may have been free to experience the things he or she wanted to experience and to be the person he or she wanted to be.
- Negative effects
On the flip side, in the long-term, favorite children may struggle with intimate relationships when they find that no one can possibly love them as much as the parent who favored them.
They’re more likely to be depressed because they spent so much of their lives trying to court parental favor that they may not have developed their own personality.
On the other end of the extreme is the unfavored child, who is often on the receiving end of the parent’s anger.
The unfavored child perhaps stands to suffer the most – even long after he or she has left home whether it be through depression, weakened self-esteem or a chronic need to feel special.
In many cases, sibling relationships are strained as resentment from favoritism breeds.
Just be aware and change the behavior to something more consistent. For instance, switch off different responsibilities in the household to give a fair chance for everyone to experience the task. We will find, if we break the bad cycle of favoritism many of the little issues we all picked up from the way some of us were unfairly raised will not be passed on to the generations to come after us.