While attending her Grandson’s wedding lunch recently, an in-law relative asked Grandma, who has 6 daughters and one son, on who was her favourite child. Gran answered easily, ‘I have no favourite. They are all the same.’ Most mothers would also answer in a similar way but practise otherwise that gives others a different perception. Then when confronted, they probably give excuses like, because he is the youngest and couldn’t fight his own battle, so I must come to his defence, as was given to me by my sister when I pointed out to her the difference she treated her son and daughter. (But I am sure she loves both equally.)
Recently on my siblings’ visit to our nanny in Malaysia, my nanny pointed out to my sister on how my brother was the favourite of my parents among the three of us. This was obvious to us even when we were children, not because of perceived prejudice by ourselves, but adult relatives had often pointed this out to my sister and me – your brother is your parents’ favourite. We concluded it’s the Asian patriarch society custom to value boys and didn’t think much about it unless sometimes the unfair treatments become too much to bear.
In my own family of three boys, my eldest son often complains I treat my youngest, Aaron, more favourably – I don’t see through Aaron’s punishment fully and Aaron has traveled more widely than him. Aaron has similar complaints – he has all hand-me-downs, including an outdated Gameboy set when his brothers each has their own set at five. I don’t know if my sons were jesting or not, but I am comforted by my two elder sons’ calls home recently from the army which tell me otherwise:
Despite a late book out and an early next-morning book in, Ivan wanted me to pick and send him as he wanted to come home to his own bed to sleep. (You miss your mommy right, Ivan?)
Andreas called on Sunday to tell us that he is faring well and enjoying his BMT. His friend was adding into the call from behind. When I told him his company had called me that morning to confirm his details, his friend started asking me who, what time, etc. I asked Andreas if his friend had called home. His friend’s reply was, ‘No need. She (Mother) doesn’t care. She has nine children and can’t care less if one is in the army.’ I advised Andreas’ friend to call home. I felt sad for the boy but at the same time, relieve that Andreas felt differently enough to call home to reassure us. (Okay, so I don’t have nine children, but if I did, each one of them matters.)
I asked Mike if he has a favourite and he thought honestly and hard and couldn’t answer me. It’s true, both of us have no favourite son. If I had given Mike a daughter, he would have answered easily. But having a favourite child is quite normal and natural. Time magazine wrote an article about it once.
In the article, it tries to give reasons as to why parents favour one over the others;
1) Favoring a beautiful child over a less beautiful one.
2) Firstborns are often the family’s favorite
3) Or the youngest
4)Favoring the most vulnerable child (as in my sister’s case.)
5) Gender (Favouring boys in Asian society)
So anyone, son or daughter, eldest or youngest, could be a parent’s favourite for reason unexplained.
By the way, Grandma do have a favourite, obvious to all – ME! Except I am her grandchild, not her child, albeit only one year younger than her own youngest child. I am her favourite probably because she is English educated and does not believe in gender inequality. I was also the youngest in the brood she was caring for, and probably the most vulnerable, and her eldest grandchild too that. (I hesitate to add – most beautiful child?)