Favorite- “one that is treated or regarded with special favor or liking”
I always knew I was my parents’ favorite child. After all, I was the oldest, smartest, cutest, and most obedient! How could I NOT be all that in a house filled with boys? Even when I just had one baby brother, he didn’t know a thing until I showed it to him. He was always getting into trouble, while I was mostly too afraid to get into trouble. Once I had three brothers it was not even a contest. It was “Mary” and "the boys”. They didn’t even have names! LOL Number four may have later claimed my privileged place as favorite, but only because I was married and gone.
As adults we sometimes forget how desperately some children want to be the “favorite”, the “best” , the one admired above all the rest. They want to be the first in line, the first to get a treat, the one to sit on Mom’s lap, or next to the window, or beside Dad at the table. They want to be chosen first for the baseball team and get the highest grade in math. We may think they do that because they just know they are smarter or stronger or faster or better than anyone else, but the opposite is usually true. The child who isn’t confident and isn’t sure of his abilities often needs that special treatment from someone in authority to reassure him that he is “worthy”.
I honestly never questioned my place in my family, I suppose because I was the oldest and the only girl. I even assumed I was the favorite grandchild! However, my own children, especially my girls, often pondered who my favorite was. I don’t think anyone can truly understand the absurdity of that question until they have more than one child. There is no way to have a “favorite” child when each is such a vital part of your heart and soul! It would be like trying to decide which piece of a puzzle made it complete. If you remove any piece, it destroys the picture!
I think what confuses children is that they don’t understand how unique they truly are. They aren’t clones of us and we may find it easier to get along with or understand the child who has more of our own personality traits. I grew up with boys, so sometimes my “prissy” girls were baffling to me! :) What was the big deal about getting dirty or having a scraped knee? What do you mean you can’t pick up a bug? But sometimes children perceive the ease with which we interact with one child as favoritism toward them, when it is simply the comfort of familiar ground. We may have to work much harder to interact comfortably with a child who takes more risks than we would, or is smarter than we are, or who is louder or quieter. It has nothing to do with love or favor, just interaction.
My students vie for my attention on a daily basis. Their parents ask me numerous questions about favoritism problems at home. I’ve even had some say things like “well, the problem is that she’s the favorite grandchild”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a child feeling like he or she is the “favorite”, but I do think there is something wrong if we are still using those terms, or seeking that approval as adults. We don’t have to be someone’s favorite to be loved. Do you think God has a favorite among us?