Summary: Couples, Pt. 3
To relatives and friends, guessing who is the favorite child in the family is not difficult. Growing up, my sister was daddy’s girl. The family included two boys and a sister in the middle, each a year apart, but my youngest son status was in vain.
The stark reminder in Asia of who the golden child is usually occurs during festive occasions. At the Chinese New Year dinner time, my saliva would drip at the sight of every child’s favorite part of the boiled fresh chicken – the drumstick – and but my heart would sigh knowing on whose bowl it would land on. My father would use his chopsticks, lift the first piece and the masterpiece from the plate before anyone could dig in, sticking to the same old text as he explained to the boys: “Sister is a girl, the middle child; so she deserves the drumstick.” The boys would alternate the other drumstick, but it usually ended up on my brother’s bowl, because he wore the eldest son mantle in the family and because I had no voice in the family. I would sit glumly, act brave but fume inside. The subtle rejection was another blow to a child whose parents were divorced by then. Drumsticks were not to blame, the lack of self-esteem, security and status in the family was.
Favoritism in the family is common, subtle, hurtful and destructive. Francine Klagsbrun in her 1992 book “Mixed Feelings” reported that 84% of 272 people surveyed said one or both of their parents had shown favoritism when they were growing up. Only 16% deny that. In the case of a perceived doting mother, 66% of the men compared to only 27% of the women felt favored by her. In the case of an accused father, 62% of women, compared to 49% of the men, felt they were favored. When respondents did not choose themselves as favorites, they tend to choose a brother over a sister as Mom’s favorite, and a sister over a brother as Dad’s favorite. 43% felt “secured” when favored by their fathers and 36% felt so when favored by mothers. The twist in the study is that 13% favored by father also felt “resentful” and an even higher 18% favored by mother resented the burden (p. 174).
The favoritism Isaac showed Esau and Rebekah to Jacob is one of the best-known stories in the Bible. The guilty party was the parents, not the children, but the burden was passed on the children and the behavior was picked up by the children.
What can parents and spouses do to raise healthy children? What kind of godly and moral character and example do you leave behind for your children? How are you preparing your children for their growth and independence?
The More Communication You have, the Least Concern There is
27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your weapons--your quiver and bow--and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.” (Gen 27:1-4)