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Finally, The Truth About Favouritism

Of course you have a favourite child

Sibling favoritism and birth order |

Think you don't pick favourites among your children? Think again.

A study about birth order led by sociologist Katherine Conger found that the vast majority of us (74 percent of moms, and 70 percent of dads) admit to treating our kids differently, yet few would come right out and admit they favoured one over another.

The teens involved in the study all had a sibling within four years of their age. Over a span of three years, researchers collected and analyzed interpersonal data. (Though the research hails back to a 2005 publication in Journal of Family Psychology, it's enjoying a resurgence online because sibling rivalry never goes out of style. Children just can't seem to help themselves.) 

Tellingly, while the first borns in the study were unfazed over favouritism, the youngest of siblings got a raw deal. Their self-esteem took knocks over real or perceived favouritism.

All children - regardless of birth order - felt the rub to some degree, convinced their parents treated them unfairly.

"Our working hypothesis was that older, earlier born children would be more affected by perceptions of differential treatment due to their status as older child—more power due to age and size, more time with parents in the family," Conger told Quartz. "Everyone feels their brother or sister is getting a better deal."

Parents, whether you consciously show it or not, kids are going to assume you love their brother or sister more, so you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Might as well come clean and own up to your favouritism. 

And this is where I proudly admit to being an only child. For all the denigration we 'onlies' face, this is one burden we don't have to shoulder. No competition, we are the privileged few, the apple of our parents' eye - unless step siblings enter the picture. Then it may just be every man for themselves. 

 RELATED: Why Your Only Child is Going to be Just Fine