"I have a favourite child. You know you do too."

Come on admit it you have a favourite child.

Everyone does. We just won’t say we do, will we? We don’t want to confess.

We’ve all heard that haven’t we? Or thought it? No doubt at some stage in their lives our children will think it of us.

She’s your favourite. She always gets everything. You never let me do it. 

I definitely have a favourite child, or maybe I should say “favoured child”. But it changes all the time with my three.

When it comes to homework time, it’s my middle child, who I sit with while he is compliant and still as I bribe him one smartie at a time to read out just a few more pages, to write out just another spelling word. My favourite little guy.

I have a favourite, or should I say favoured. Image via iStock.

In the mornings it's definitely my four-year old daughter. She wakes up and gets herself dressed quick smart (for fear I will take control in guiding her fashion choices.) She appears top to toe in pink tulle and frills or Manchester United soccer gear, depending on her inner stylist and I don't have to nag at all.

My favourite for sure.

When it comes to bedtime it's my eldest, the other two have more excuses as to why they aren’t in bed than they do hours to sleep. He happily heads off without a fuss firmly cementing himself at that moment as my favourite.

But one out of my three I prefer? No. One out of my three I love more? No. As a mum it surprises me that any parent does.

But according to many, many studies by psychologists and scientists over the years I am wrong - it seems that overwhelmingly, parents do have favourites and some aren't afraid to admit it.

Last year a mother made headlines when she appeared on SBS's Insight revealing she preferred one son over the other. A few months ago tennis great Andy Murray's mother accidentally caused a sibling spat when she tweeted that Andy was her special one, putting other son Jamie's nose out of joint.

It is not just parents who have a favourite. In this Jimmy Kimmel segment you can see that kids have one too. But who is it? Mum or Dad? Post continues after video....

If author Jeffrey Kluger is to be believed they are the ones admitting the truth, the rest of us are in denial.

The American science writer, and author of The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us says parental favouritism is hard-wired into the human psyche. “It is my belief that 95 per cent of the parents in the world have a favourite child, and the other five per cent are lying,” he said.


When his book was released and a subsequent Time magazine cover the topic went viral with many parents debating whether they did or didn’t have a “favourite.”

What emerged was a pattern of older parents saying that over the course of their lives their relationships with their children had been fluid. Their love had been steady, but that the quality of their interactions had changed over time. For many of these parents by the time their children had reached adulthood – they did have a favourite.

Perhaps that’s where the figure of 95% comes from.

If you look at other studies such as a 2013 survey of 2212 parents for ParentDish, they found a much lower number - 34 per cent of mothers and 28 per cent of fathers saying they have a favourite child.

And even narrowing it down further, the website Mumsnet held an anonymous survey that revealed 16 per cent of mothers admitted to having a favourite child.

The New Zealand website Stuff writes of a poll which found that 55 per cent of mothers find it easier to bond with their boys than their girls. Another study which analysed data from 14,000 UK children, found that due to the attention spent on them, first-borns tended to have higher IQs and were taller than their siblings, which suggested they were better fed.

Does that mean those are necessarily favourite children though?

Just because you spent more time with your first does that mean they are loved more? Image via iStock.

I certainly spent more time with my oldest when he was younger. He was shuffled from Gymbaroo to Music Time to playgroup to story times at the local library. He was held and fussed over and picked up whenever he cried.

When his brother and then sister came along there was less fussing, less shuffling and a whole heap less holding due entirely to circumstances. So if you are measuring “favourite” by quantity of time then he wins out so far as a consequence of his birth order.

If they are equating “favourite” with most loved then I dispute the statistics - surely, tell me you agree - my three are equal? What I think our job is as parents is is to make them feel that way.

What do you think? Do you have a favourite? Would you admit it?

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