Love is Not a Pie
There were so many heartbreaking comments on my Do You Love One Child More? post. Many were from people who felt that not only were they not the favourite, but they were the "black sheep" (for lack of a better term) of the family. The experience of watching a sibling be the "chosen one" had made some feel unlovable, others felt the need to prove their parent wrong by succeeding and others had cut off ties with their family.
It just shows how influential we parents are. The unconscious beliefs and emotions that drive our parenting may be more obvious to our kids than to us. How we treat them matters because, as many commenters pointed out, it is hard to move beyond the beliefs that our parents taught us.
It seemed to me while growing up that favouritism was clear-cut. Your behaviour meant that people loved you more, or loved you less, in comparison with others. Now I realize that it is much more complicated than that (for me at least). I don't have a favourite child: I may have a child I am more enmeshed with at any given time, one I understand better, one I appreciate more, one I love for showing me how there are different points of view. But those feelings change on a daily, hourly basis. Their behaviour affects how I react to them, but not how I feel. My love for each of them is boundless and I don't love each of them the same way. They are different people, they deserve more from me.
I try not think about equality when it comes to love. Equality implies measurement and there is no measurement of an emotion as strong as loving your kids. I have always loved the saying love is not a pie because it reminds me that love doesn't sit in a pie dish and get carved up between family members until there is none left.
Perhaps as some of the commenters suggested, those of us raised with favouritism are more aware of it as parents and work against it. I hope that the people who did write that they have favourites look over the comments and realize the potential damage that they may be creating.
Another Babble blogger, John Cave Osbourne wrote a dissenting post to Kate Tietje's, in which he says that he wouldn't compare and contrast his children publicly. He writes that he would never take a snapshot of a relationship and hold it up to the world as a truth, knowing that things change so rapidly. I would go one step further and say that I wouldn't take a snapshot of a relationship and take it to heart as a truth. Because kids change, we parents change, and the world changes around us. I expect to love my kids even more as time goes on.
Want more chaos? Last year, I posted my complicated, convoluted breastfeeding story.