Favorite child?

My husband and I had a major fight tonight! I go back to work very soon and I’m scared to death to leave all 3 of our children for him as a stay at home dad, especially now that he has admitted to me that he has a favorite. When I begged him to take it back through tears, he simply told me it was idealistic to think you could love them all the same. I asked him who his favorite was, and he stated “well isn’t it obvious?” I was so angry I smacked him across the face. We have 3 wonderful children, and I can tell you in complete honesty as I sit here, that I do NOT have a favorite child. I love each of them equally. Sure, they have different personalities, so there are things I like and appreciate about one vs another, but I don’t love or favor one over the other. They are MY babies, my flesh and blood, and I love them so much it hurts. I could not imagine loving one more or less than the others.

Was I wrong to be so angry at him? Does he have a point or is he just disordered in his thinking? I’m so angry!

Well you were certainly wrong to slap him!

As for the principle involved, I think some people are honest and upfront that it is natural for them to favour one child. Other people find this repugnant. My view is somewhere in between. I think it is certainly natural to favour one child in terms of thoughts and feelings, but I think it is a parental duty, at least while they are in your care, to do as much as possible not to show favouritism, or to treat one differently to the others.

You should try to have a calm discussion about what exactly he means. I think if he means that he tries to treat them equally but natrually feels more affection to one, that you should respect his honesty and the reality that this is often the case. If however he feels that it’s OK to treat one child better than the others, I think you will need to consider this further.

You can’t help how you feel. No he is not wrong to have a favorite. He would be wrong if he allowed his other children to know it. Over time his “favorite” may be replaced by another. You need to be calm in talking to him. Why is this child his favorite? Does he treat him in a way that offends your other children? Does He love his other children?

Getting angry and hitting him is not a good way to handle this. It doesn’t help your husband and it doesn’t help your children.

What he said! But also, I am wondering if your anger might be due to his honesty touching a nerve, that perhaps you too have different feelings toward your children but that makes you feel very guilty. I am playing armchair psychologist of course, but your reaction seems like it was extreme based on your own reaction to it. It may be that he simply had no shame about treating your children unfairly unequal and wasnt going to modify his behavior. That would be frustrating and upsetting. But as others have stated, it seems only natural that parents do respond differently to the different personalities of their children. How can this be wrong? The problem is when you treat them unfairly differently in discipline and affection.

I think our culture seems to try to stigmatize the fact parents feel differently about each of their children. In different literature, I have noticed at times that authors will portray parents who almost explicitly identify their favorite children and the authors dont always seem to portray this negatively through any particular reaction from the other family members or others or through the author’s own narration, but simply uses it as a part of the narrative. Im not sure this accurately reflects an actual difference in other cultures or other times, but I think in our egalitarian culture we tend to deny the reality of our psychology.

Obviously your reaction was upsetting to you , but unless your husband was admitting the clearly inappropriate attitude and behavior I mentioned, his honesty , frankly sounds refreshing. I hope he was just confiding in your his honest feelings. Dont be too hard on him. But God bless you for being so concerned about all your children!

It is possible to like all your children equally, but certainly a parent who loves all his children equally can find he likes one better than the others. Fathers tend to be far more willing to admit this point than mothers, even if they do not play favorites any worse than mothers do. It is a gender-difference thing, I guess. Men do not expect their male friends to pretend that they’re all equally close, either, but some women do this to ridiculous degrees. Maybe it is because social ties can be the coin of the female realm. :shrug:

The main thing is to be loving, fair and polite. You don’t go around telling your friends about other friends you like better, and you don’t flaunt it if you have one friendship that is closer than others. That would be rude and hurtful. That does not mean that you do not like some of your beloved friends, relatives, or faithful clergy better than others. It only means that you have decided to love them all the same, regardless of your natural affections.

Oh, and don’t ever slap the father of your beloved children. Apologize. That was out of line.

I’m one of those who consider parental favoritism to be repugnant. Then again, my parents have always pretty blatant with (although not open about) their favoritism, and I didn’t even come in second. The worst part about it is that, if it continues, it will apply to your grandchildren as well. It could lead to a host of problems with your kids and their kids, especially when they get old enough to see the favoritism come into play. As a child, it’s hard to get over the disparity in treatment, whether it’s having to call your friends for a ride to a school function or activity because it conflicts with your brother’s and both parents have decide they have to go see him, or dealing with the unfairness of your siblings always getting 2-3 times the gifts for major events (Confirmation, graduation, milestone birthdays). As a parent, it’s unbelievably disheartening to hear a child ask you why Grandma and Grandpa are missing out on their championship game yet again to to go another of their cousin’s preseason practices, or to have to cancel another date night with your wife (the first in months) at the last minute because your babysitters canceled to go spend the evening with the nieces they spent the day with three times already that week.

I believe you’re absolutely right to be angry with him. I’ll say that I agree that you were wrong to hit him, although my heart’s really not in it. I think it’s horrendous behavior, especially if the kids can tell (and I severely doubt that the kids can’t tell). I can honestly say that my wife and I love each of our kids equally. Although my kids always accuse us of favoring of the babies (it’s hard not to give them more attention because they’re babies and that comes with the territory), we go out of our way to make sure they all receive equal treatment. I make a point of taking each girl out for a special day at least once a month, and we’re extremely careful to make sure we spend the same amount (usually to within $5-10) for each kid for Christmas and other occasions. I wish I could offer advice on solutions. I think you need to get the point across to him, though, and do your best to make sure your other kids don’t feel neglected because of his behavior.

True, I should not have slapped him, and I do feel badly about it because I NEVER do that. I was angry and upset, not because it struck a nerve of guilt for feeling the same way, because frankly I REALLY can’t identify. It struck a nerve because I had a rush of anger over multiple realizations (1. I realized it WAS obvious who his favorite is. 2. My heart aches that our 2 y/o probably notices and the realization will only grow as that child gets older, and i cant protect from it. 3. My father and my mother were both the least favorite children in their families growing up, and to this day I see them continue to suffer from it. My father’s mother always talks about how she resents him, and I’ve watched him trying to please her my whole life, and it’s never enough. She’s extremely ungrateful, gives my aunts all of her family heirlooms and leaves him with nothing. It hurts so badly to see someone you love so much, be mistreated that way. My mother’s mother doesn’t even talk to my mom anymore unless its to blame her for the misery in her life. 4. We have 3 children, and it brought to light the realization that he doesn’t love our youngest at all as he blames me for the fact that we conceived a 3rd) in that moment, we had been fighting for quite some time, and his attitude was rather smug about everything.

I find this “fact” that someone could love and favor a child more horrifying, I just don’t get it. I think it’s extremely unfair to the other children. I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to make up for hubby’s favoritism and protecting my other children from suffering what my parents did.

Just the other day, my dad sent an Edible Arrangement to his mother for her birthday. I was with her when she received it and she looked at me and said “I’m sure it was your mother’s idea” , then proceeded to call him to say thank you to my mother. He wasn’t surprised, but my mom told me it was 100% my dads idea, like he’s still trying to earn his mothers love. It’s so heart wrenching. If my parents had a favorite child, I really couldn’t tell, and they would never say so. Also, my husband was the least favorite in his family and suffers from it. I’m appalled he would repeat the process.

THAT I find to be repugnant. True that people can’t help their feelings (and apparently it is quite common for parents to admit having a favourite) but that’s not an excuse to make it obvious to the non-favourite child/ren. What are they supposed to do about it, other than feel bad?

Reminds me a bit of parents who tell their children that they were an ‘accident’. Maybe not so bad if they mean ‘happy accident’ but sometimes they don’t. My dad’s mum was always quite open about how she had only wanted the first two of her five children (my dad was number three). I just don’t understand what good that does.

Kids always know who;s the favorite of either mom or dad. My friend used to proudly tell people he had “favored child status.”


On another thread you have already talked about your husband’s mental illness. He needs professional help.

If you think he is emotionally, psychologically, or physically abusing your children, you need to start thinking about your options for limiting their exposure to him and his mental illness and protecting them.

I am sure this is not what you want to hear, but your husband is not mentally stable and your other thread and this one basically hint at you trying to cover up or take up the slack for him.

You cannot spend your life doing that. You have to deal with reality. And reality may be that you have to protect your children. You state you were afraid to leave them with him, why is that?

One set of my grandparents was even more blatant about their favoritism, to the point where their favorite grandchildren were invited over to pick their inheritance before my grandmother died, while the rest of us got nothing. Like Tay said, I can’t comprehend carrying on this behavior.

Almost as troubling is the fact that others accuse my wife & I of favoritism over the tiniest of perceived discrepancies in how we handle our children. It puts the idea that we really do play favorites into our kids’ heads, which at times can be almost as hurtful and difficult to deal with as if we really were doing it. Years ago we took our kids out clothes shopping. Our son refused to wear anything from a thrift store while our girls were more than happy with it. The girls ended up with 5-7 new outfits each while our son only got a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. His one outfit cost more than the girls’ haul, but after a family member accused us of favoring the girls because we bought them so much more, he sulked about it for days. He hadn’t been neglected in the least (if anything, the girls got the short end of the stick), but because someone else convinced him of it, he was crushed.

I can’t reiterate enough how important I think it is to do away with this behavior. I truly believe it can be just as damaging to a child as other forms of abuse.

The only thing we should be talking about is your admission that you assaulted your husband. I can’t even begin to understand why anyone is entertaining the question itself without addressing that first.

Uh… she just made a casual reference to the fact that she assaulted him.

You feel badly about it? Oh, it’s no big deal then. /sarcasm tag

I agree.

If it makes you feel any better though, basically all children are convinced that their parents favour the other child/ren more. I always used to be, and so was my sister (and there’s just the two of us). That’s sibling rivalry for you :smiley:

I’m not a big one for recommending counseling, but it sounds like you and your hisband are suffering a lot of stress, and I think that you two might benefit from at least a couple of talks with a wise third party, who could be your priest or a friend or a regular counselor. You need to be able to voice your thoughts and be taken seriously, and he needs to be able to voice his and treated considerately. Right now, it sounds like a bad pattern is developing between the two of you.

I would have been shocked an hurt as well.

Based on your last post. I think one thing that needs to be done is your husband needs to be reminded that it isn’t the child’s fault that they were conceived and born. It honestly sounds more like he wishes to be detached from the child, because he is resentful towards you.

I can see now why you are concerned about leaving them alone with him as the main care taker.

I agree that favoritism is extremely hurtful. My husband has an extremely hard time with his mother because she heavily favors his sister. To the point she has cancelled a dinner, because his sister had a migraine (she’s in her 20s).

I see my son suffer from the same favoritism from my husband’s grandparents. They will invite my daughter out to do things and get her really nice gifts. But my son is left at home or give simple and practical things. My husband and I already agreed that if it continues through the next year, when they can’t use my son’s age as an excuse (he is 22 months) we’ll cut them out of our lives.

Unfortunately you don’t have that luxury. You may need to get him into counseling so that he can realize that while he may have the feelings of favoritism, he should never show it. It will be detrimental to even the favored child.

I agree.

If he had hit her, everyone would be up in arms about spousal abuse.

She hits him, and its “you shouldn’t have done that, but let us get on to what is really important.”

Loving one child more than another is a terrible, terrible thing. Love is in large part an act of will, if a person find himself choosing good for kid A to the detriment of kid B repeatedly, that is bad.

Liking the company of one child over another is probably hard to avoid, although one should definitely not let it be obvious. I think it would be worthwhile to determine which one your husband means.

If your husband does have mental health issues as has been mentioned as a possibility (based on another thread to those who jumped on 1ke), then you should take that very seriously, and seek out the help of a professional not only for your husband but to determine what effects this may have on your children and if something needs to be done.

And last - maybe I’m just wrong (I’ll think about it in depth later), but while I would be “up in arms” about a husband hitting a wife, and while I certainly know that it is wrong for a wife to physically assault a husband, I don’t think the wife making a single slap in such a situation necessarily counts - and if I ever get married and do something similar to telling my wife that I love one of my children more than the others, that it’s obvious which one it is, and that I think both of those facts are ok, I actually hope she slaps me.

Please be assured of my prayers.

I would urge you to go to confession at once and to focus on your anger and your lack of control. In most states you could have gone to jail for your actions, physical violence is not okay.

It seems (and I could be wrong) that you are focusing more on your husband’s actions than your own. I am only judging by the information in your posts. I know you are upset but I am just making an observation, with all Christian charity it seems about 5% of what you write is about the assault and your remorse, and the other 95% is about your husband and how wrong he was and how wrong favoritism is.

A physical assault in a marriage is extremely dangerous and you need to seek help for your lack of control. Of course I agree with you that what your husband said was awful, and I guess I could affirm that repeatedly but what would that accomplish? Of course he said something awful, you wouldn’t have slapped him otherwise. My husband has said awful things for years during arguments and so have I and so has every married person on this forum. That is unfortunately the nature of sin and it’s impact on a marriage. You were in a heated argument and your spouse said something mean and nasty, unfortunately you took it to another level.

Of course your husband’s comments were serious and need to be addressed. However, I believe that the most serious issues need to be addressed FIRST. Therefore, go to confession, seek anger management and sincerely apologize to your spouse for the physical assault and vow to control your temper. Then, sit down calmly and try and focus on his favoritism and whatever other issues that are facing the two of you. Does your husband really favor one child? If so, then bring this up with a counselor or spiritual director. Does your husband have other mental health issues? If so then bring these issues up with his medical doctor or other professional.

Clearly this is a stressful situation. You love your children and you were so hurt by his words, I can only imagine it felt like a knife through you heart but your actions are not the way. If you don’t work hard to control your temper it could easily happen again. Please seek help for your family. God bless you.

You really do need to apologize profusely to your husband, and perhaps get some counseling.

You assaulted him for being honest with you. Please, what kind of incentive is that for him to be honest with you in the future? Do you think he may be less likely to be honest and share things with you?

An honest discussion with him may have revealed that his ‘favorite’ isn’t due to a difference in love but the fact he enjoys/relates better to on older child than a younger one. As someone else said, his ‘favorite’ may shift between children due to either relating better to their age or similar personalities and interests. Some adults really have a hard time relating to and understanding their kids in the teen-age rebellious years.

I treat each of my three kids differently because they’re different. I find it easier to do things with the ones that share my interests. I participate in activities with all of them, but its harder to do the activities where the interest isn’t shared. I agree with you that I do love them all the same, but I do respond differently to their different personalities. Which again, may really be what your husband was expressing.

Sorry, kids come to the conclusion of who the favorite is and they can easily be wrong. In my family of six kids growing up, each one pointed to somebody else as the favorite and argued over it.

I did sit my kids down and explain to them who my favorite is when they got into the typical Dad likes you better squabble.

“Dad’s favorite is whoever isn’t p***g him off at the time.”

I think you are putting a lot of hurt that you see in your parents onto your husband.

You husband gave you a logical assessment to an emotional issue. You can’t quantify your feelings, but he can.

You say he has a favorite, but you had never noticed it before he said so. He said “Isn’t it obvious?” - and you had no immediate answer.

That tells me that he isn’t acting on this at all - or it would have been obvious.

And if it were true that he were changing his behavior based on this - you can assure him that he would be harming his favorite more than the others. Often a favorite feels guilty. The favoritism causes resentment of his siblings and thus causes negative repercussions. The less favorites have to work harder - and often accomplish more because of it.

But he isn’t treating anyone differently so far. Now it’s in your mind so you’re looking for it. But since your kids are different ages, genders and have different personalities, you can’t be sure what influences his reaction at any one occasion - so you can read anything you want into it.

Your husband was honest with you. May I ask - what brought up the discussion that lead to him revealing that he has a favorite? Did you ask him directly, or did something lead to the conversation?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.