Re: Black Sheep

1

Charismatic, clever children are less work?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:18 AM
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1 is exactly right.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:21 AM
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Anyhow, I am surprised by the idea that it was common to openly love one child more. I assumed it was always hidden, or hinted at, or revealed spitefully in low moments. I wouldn't know, of course, since as an only child I had the complete, undivided attention of my parents at all times, which is healthiest.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:23 AM
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You learn most when you're the oldest and have siblings who look to you for wisdom.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:26 AM
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My grandmother is all-but-explicit about which grandchildren she prefers. So she's a touch less than I'm claiming, but at least I believe people sometimes admitted it openly.

(I'm sure they were seen as being assholes. But it wasn't as super taboo, I think.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:27 AM
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So heebie, which is your favorite child?


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:39 AM
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The skinny one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:39 AM
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4 is exactly right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:42 AM
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I am surprised by the idea that it was common to openly love one child more.

So am I. It's generally portrayed as a mistake that will warp the unloved child and cause problems. See, for example, the whole of King Lear, and the Duchess of York in Richard III:

Thou cam'st on earth to make the earth my hell.
A grievous burden was thy birth to me;
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild, and furious;
Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;
Thy age confirm'd, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred:
What comfortable hour canst thou name
That ever grac'd me with thy company?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:45 AM
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For basically her entire life, my sister, the middle-child, has been convinced that my parents and everyone else disfavored her somehow, despite all material and affectional evidence to the contrary (okay, except for my wacky aunt, who is actually kind of open about preferring my little sister to the other two of us). It's pretty bizarre. I mean, a lot of people whose parents assumed responsibility for their college debt (3 years at one of the most expensive SLACs in the country) would be grateful for that. But not her. So anyhow, I wonder how much of that perception about the past is really accurate, and how much is just middle children with their "Marsha, Marsha, MARSHA!" all the time.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:46 AM
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my grandfather had a favorite child and favorite grand-children. it did fuck a lot of things up, especially after his death. I feel it used to be more acceptable to have a favorite in past generations. I always worried: what if I were to love one child more than the other? that would be so horrible! it's fine so far now that I'm actually a mother, but I see how it could come about that you did.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:51 AM
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It's generally portrayed as a mistake that will warp the unloved child and cause problems.

I said above that it made you an asshole. But any given context has acceptable ways of being an asshole and taboo ways of being an asshole.

Plus I have no clue what Shakespeare's time was like. I'm coasting on a belief about my grandparents' era.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:52 AM
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What if you waited until your youngest child is 15 or so before you picked a favorite? That seems fairer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:54 AM
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Certainly it used to be more acceptable to send the boys to college but not the girls. Or just the brightest kid.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 5:55 AM
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12: it may have appeared a lot in Shakespeare because it was a mistake that a lot of people made back then... certainly in the context of inherited titles, land etc it is difficult to avoid discriminating between the Heirs and the Spares.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:01 AM
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Certainly it used to be more acceptable to send the boys to college but not the girls. Or just the brightest kid.

And yet Issac Newton was obsessed with the idea that his mother loved him less than his (half-) sibs. Mind you, as I understand it he was allowed to go to college chiefly because he was a total liability working on the farm.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:02 AM
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I think that it's still pretty common now. People who write here grew up with enough resources and have enough to provide for their kids. When there's not enough to go around, either materially or in the economy of attention and affection badly dysfunctional families, kids see the choices their parents make. Admitting to it is rare, but much of civility is hiding dischord, so I don't think that it's anything new.

Gay kids with straight sibs might have something to say here.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:06 AM
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Jammies half-jokes openly that his mom prefers him to his half-siblings. There's probably a bit of truth to it - she raised him alone until he was 5 and carries a special bond with him, even though there's also a sense that there is one dad (the step-dad) and one nuclear family containing everybody. She would not admit it, but she might say something like "Well, I went through something with Jammies that I didn't go through with the other kids." Also the step-dad was stricter with Jammies because he was given a 5 year old for his first parenting job ever, and the 5 year old took him very, very seriously, whereas the next three kids rolled their eyes. So Jammies' mom was a bit more protective of him there, as well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:08 AM
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Admitting to it is rare, but much of civility is hiding dischord, so I don't think that it's anything new.

Maybe so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:08 AM
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Eleanor had the experience of being the favored child (by far) of one parent, and the disfavored child of the other parent. Which was a tolerable equilibrium, I suppose, until the parent that favored her died young. That was pretty up-fucking for her, and she still hasn't completely recovered 30 years later.


Posted by: Franklin D. Roosevelt | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:09 AM
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My dad favors Sally over Newt, which is annoying. I think it's partially because he had two girls, so a granddaughter snaps him back into fond nostalgia, while a grandson sets off "Is this kid ever going to stop talking?" But it's not too bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:12 AM
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I think the dynamic is often a lot more complicated than "favored, less favored", in any case. My paternal grandfather was absolutely brutal to my uncles because he believed that they would be failures if they didn't folow in his footsteps and become successful lawyers. He was much nicer (although not, you know, nice) to my mom because she's a girl and who cares what she does. The result, of course, is that my mom is the successful one. But I don't think it was exactly a case of his liking my mom more (although it's fair to say he was deeply disappointed in my uncles).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:13 AM
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I'm the favorite! Seriously though, I guess I am the favorite*, but I was so much younger than everybody else that I was my brothers' favorite, too. It's like my parents adopted a cute puppy when their sons were teenagers and everyone wanted to fuss on it.

Being the only girl (and not just the youngest) probably had something to do with it, too.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:14 AM
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24

Is it too facile to insist that like != love? Because that's what I tell my children.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:15 AM
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In my family it was more complicated, in that I was thought of as the "easy" child, so I was neglected. I tried being difficult, attempted suicide, wrote various cries for help and showed them to teachers and other adults, who then contacted my parents. None of it worked. (After I wrote a particularly intense poem about my desire to kill myself in 4th grade, my mother crowed that I was going to be a writer someday. Yay.) My job was to be the easy one.

For a while my brother couldn't stand all the attention so he changed his name and moved away and we didn't know where he was for years. During that time I started getting all the attention. Now I sort of see why that's worse. They might think my brother is fucking up his life, but they don't constantly undermine his decisions and micromanage his life.

I've gotten to the point where I finally have a meaningful relationship with my parents, but being the favorite fucking sucks.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:17 AM
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24: Do you like one child more than another?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:18 AM
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This thread reminded me of a friend I had in college whose grandmother had pictures of her near dozen or so grandkids on her mantle. His picture was in the middle, flanked by two candles.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:20 AM
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In my family it was more complicated, in that I was thought of as the "easy" child, so I was neglected.

This happened intensely to my cousin. She was also expected to be more mature than her older sibling, resulting in all sorts of (horrendous) experiences like "you get sent away during older sibling's birthday party so that sibling's friends won't display preference for you in front of sibling."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:20 AM
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My ex's family had an absolutely poisonous habit of choosing one child or another to be the favorite, occasionally switching kids. They made it completely explicit who was the favorite and who was runner-up. This is the extended family, mind - ex was an only child, but still poisoned somewhat by the dynamics which extended to favorite grandchild and so on. Truly a bunch of horrible people.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:21 AM
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30

27 is creepy. You had a friend in college who was dead?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:22 AM
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30: He was just her favourite. In most circumstances I agree it would be creepy, but knowing this particular family and its idiosyncrases, it was just really, really funny.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:31 AM
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My sister and I half joke about she having been my dad's favorite and me my mom's until I was 20 or so, and then we flipped. It doesn't affect our relationships all that much, but it's definitely there.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:41 AM
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33

Topical.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:43 AM
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34

MOM ALWAYS LIKED YOU BEST!


Posted by: OPINIONATED TOM SMOTHERS | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:44 AM
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It looks like the mild taboo against identifying a favorite child has been around for at least a century, but it might have been weaker before we started to put so much focus on tenderness in parenting.

Popular Science, 1923: "Even as a mother or father will hesitate in picking out the favorite child, so will a mechanic hesitate in naming his favorite tool. He loves them all, yet one will be usually of greater practical worth than all the others."

The Crisis (trade-union paper), 1832: "We ought to reflect and reason on this subject, as we may suppose an enlightened parent to do, who, possessing ample means, sits down to consider how he shall train his favorite child."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:45 AM
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I was always the black sheep. But my little brother and sister think they were the ones who got the shaft, as, I suppose, my darkness wore our parents out on the whole parenting thing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:48 AM
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My story is very much like AWB's. Lee's was probably more like oudemia's, but made much more complex in that she was raised/adopted by her grandparents, some of whose children resented that.

Lee is terrified that she won't be able to love another child as much as she loves Mara, to the point where she says that maybe it's better not to have another child just in case. She is completely paranoid about treating Nia badly or unfairly because she doesn't feel she has as much natural affinity or patience with her, by which she really means what she's built up in two years with Mara, but she does very well with her and Nia adores her.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 6:55 AM
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I was reminded of this quote, but I'm not sure what side of the argument it favors.

It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is DAVID COPPERFIELD.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:00 AM
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39

23 is basically true of my wife, I think. Much younger than her two siblings. I don't know if she's her parents' favourite [I suspect not] but she was the 'cute puppy' of the family.

I'm the oldest, and was also by far the easiest. I was also the bright one [relatively speaking, my sister is far from dumb]. So my sister makes catty remarks occasionally about living in the shadow of her perfect brother. I don't think there was any real sense though that I was the favourite, and in terms of material and emotional support from my parents, I was always the relatively neglected one,* and she's certainly closer to my mother than I am.

* something which pisses my wife off when my sister is telling her 'poor little sister' stories, since my wife is perfectly able to observe the reality of the situation. Viz that at times when I was really really struggling, I got shit all help from anyone.**

** which sounds like I'm bitching, but qua older and mellower, it actually doesn't bother me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:12 AM
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12: I think "acceptable ways of being an asshole" is a contradiction.

I think 35.1 gets it right - parental favoritism has always been acknowledged as bad, at least outside any practical considerations of an heirs vs. spares system like in 15, but it's only in the past century that people have started thinking so hard about parenting methods at all.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:16 AM
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at least I believe people sometimes admitted it openly

That was just the alcohol talking.


Posted by: Opinionated Lucille Bluth | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:24 AM
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42

3 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:26 AM
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43

I love all commenters equally.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:34 AM
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44

43: But some more equally than others.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:34 AM
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39.2: I think most families probably have that kind of dynamic, where the kids have very distinct roles, and depending on which bits you focus on you can make it sound as if any of them was the favorite. Dr. Oops and I are certainly like that -- you can tell completely true, non-overlapping stories that make either one of us sound favored.

(This is probably truer in small families -- more than three kids or so, and there are probably kids who don't have their own narrative of being the best/most beloved in some area. Not that they're neglected, but just that they don't necessarily have a distinct story.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:40 AM
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re: 45

Yeah. I think there was certainly a time in our teens when our parents probably liked me more [due to being much less of a spectacular flaming arsehole]; but long periods since when I was essentially left in 'sink or swim' mode, while my sister was much more actively cared for. So there's probably equally true narratives to be told. What is true [being a little bitch about it] is that only one of us generally complains about it, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:42 AM
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One night I was hiding from a CA-family political argument in the kitchen with CA's s-i-l and she said, "I've never seen parents so favor one child over another as CA's parents do with CA." This was gob-smacking to me, since I've said the same thing about the parents and her husband, CG. CA was the bad, bad, bad, bad kid and CG the happy and eager-to-please one. After some discussion of what everyone meant, it turns out that CG is enormously resentful that the parents maybe think CA is the smartest or most authoritative or something. They seek out his opinion on things for answers. But they definitely are just nicer to his younger brother, do everything in the world for him, never get in arguments with him, and in all other ways seem to favor him. So I guess there are favorites and there are favorites.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:44 AM
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I think 45 gets it right and is definitely my experience.

If I ever have more than one kid, I totally want them to compete for my love.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:52 AM
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re: 47

That's interesting, because I think my sister occasionally thinks the same, re: 'smartest or most authoritative', but in fact we have extremely non-overlapping spheres of excellence, and my mother is at least as likely, and probably more likely (for good reason) to seek my sister's (smart/useful) opinions/advice on lots of things.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:55 AM
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50

I would have to express the number of commenters I have loved as a percentage of the whole. Oh, say... forty percent.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:58 AM
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51

I did more damage to my parents cars than all my other siblings combined, but my parents had no good way of knowing that would be the case until it was too late to favor the others over me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:58 AM
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45.1 gets it exactly right IMO. It was the pretty clear dynamic when I was growing up (my older sister was self-confident and gregarious, I was precocious and, when little, cute), and it's pretty similar to that with my kids (although Kai has an almost politician-like charm that is sometimes disconcerting - it's really hard to believe that a 4-y.o. can sincerely be inquiring into your own interests or wellbeing, and so it seems suspiciously like buttering up; but that's hard to believe as well).

My take is that, for the most part, it comes down to the same kind of self-awareness that's vital to having a healthy romantic/partner relationship: if you have your own personal shit more or less together, then you can recognize what's going on well enough that you don't get wrapped up in e.g. Child 1 reminds me of Bad Parent. I mean, you'll see it, and you'll have some emotional reaction, but you'll know it's happening and not let it become the dominant note in your feeling for the kid.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:04 AM
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...and so it seems suspiciously like buttering up; but that's hard to believe as well

How is that hard to believe? Kids that age have nothing to do but learn how manipulate the adults around them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:06 AM
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Affection was doled out pretty equally in my family so instead my sister and I competed to be the one the 'rents don't worry about, because it is not enjoyable to be worried about. She has a long-running advantage in that she's the more successful offspring, but the last few years she's gotten to bask in my mother's unadulterated "I don't understand why you're single" concern, so it's hard to say who is ahead.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:06 AM
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50: I think we established in another thread that you mean the number of commenters you have had.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:10 AM
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39.2 is familiar to me, though I wasn't comparatively neglected either. My brother, 2 years behind, decided to excel in fields where I failed, and dedicated himself to hands on crafts (auto shop, fixing mechanical things) so as to shine in a different field.

Unfortunately, he also decided to hang out with the "bad crowd", which got him more interventionist attention. In our late teens we resented each other. Going away and living our own lives helped us appreciate each other as something other than competitors.


Posted by: MooseKing | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:13 AM
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I was my grandmother's favorite child partly because of where I went to school. But it's also the case that I strove very hard to do what she wanted. I went on a train trip with her and made sure that the reservations for the dining car were handled and calmed her down. She routinely showed up on Saturdays and demanded to be entertained for a couple of hours. I always went and sat with her while my sister hid in her room. The other cousins were farther away. I'm sure she also favored one male cousin, because he was the only blood relative who was a man and would carry on the family name. But mostly it was just that I was extremely dutiful.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:20 AM
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Actually, there's probably a bit more to it than well-adjusted (or non-exhausted) parents: if you're basically an optimist, then you'll identify the good in all of your kids, and appreciate them for that, whatever their other foibles, whereas I suspect that a more generally negative parent would find it easy to fault all the kids except the one who caught his/her fancy (whether due to good behavior or physical attractiveness or charm or something more idiosyncratic).

BOGF's mother was a horrible person by many measures, and kept having kids because she really only liked babies (7 kids in ~15 years, plus numerous fosters, one of whom ended up adopted). I suspect all 7 kids would have different stories about which ones were favored, although my sense is that the eldest would get the most votes, followed maybe by the youngest. Actually, now that I think of it, the second-youngest may have had it best - almost the baby of the family, and he was very charming; he grew up into a shithead, but I don't think the mom really cared - classic prodigal son. But I bet that he wouldn't have called himself the favorite. They all got shit on.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:21 AM
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My grandmother really clearly favors my dad's brother over all her other children, to the point where it's a family in-joke, but anytime someone alludes to it in front of her she gets really angry and denies it. He's also the one she has the least interaction with, since he lives far away, whereas the others are constantly helping her out with things and getting mostly snide comments in return.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:41 AM
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I'm halfway through a CM Yonge novel in which *of course* one child is favored, because there are rigid standards of worth and you punish children who don't meet them. That's in the 1810s, about, & the narrating child compares the parenting style favorably to the sentiment of his "current day".

Still to see if scaredy Clarence pulls together or dashing Griff falls apart.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:46 AM
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My sister is my mother's favorite, but she totally deserves it. She was easy-care as a child, and totally solicitous of the parents as an adult. What more could you want, really? By contrast, my mother's favoritism for a particular grandchild (not one of mine) is inexplicable to me on any grounds other than primogeniture.

My father favored a different sister, but only in a tallest midget sort of way. I might have nudged that sister out of first place in his eyes as an adult, but it's hard to be sure, given the low absolute levels of affection we're talking about.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 8:58 AM
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In my family, my parents believed and tried very hard to practice absolute equality between siblings. Still, they liked some kinds of achievement better than others, and my sister and I traded off doing well. My sister and I can and do joke about who is the "good kid" right now, and acknowledge that it shifts. She was up for having kids, but now I'm rising for having a steady sweetheart.

My boyfriend's mom absolutely and conspicuously favors him. He and his sister are close, so somehow they just joke about whatever the last blatant example was. It shocks me, but they've come to grips about it. They don't have a ton of respect for his mom, so maybe that helps.

The one that is really hard for me is my sister's boys. I love them both, but they each very much represent one parent's traits (looks, talents). We aren't still close with the father. It is very, very hard for me not to gravitate toward the one that fits in with our side. I have to consciously overcorrect, and probably don't manage even after paying attention to the problem.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 9:57 AM
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62.last: That's a bit of what's going on with my dad and Sally and Newt, too. Sally is very strongly from my side of the family, and Newt is much more Buck's. Dad likes Buck fine, but Newt doesn't seem to set off the family affection in the same way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:01 AM
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My mother's mother, the Irish grandmother, had nine kids and you could tell the favorites from the baddies by whether they were "that" or "my." My mother was always "my Peggy" (as opposed to her sister, "that Helen"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:05 AM
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64 con't (thanks, O!): .) Her sons William and John were always always always "that William" and "my John," even though William was the super responsible good son who did everything right (and whose house she ended up moving into!), whereas John was the smooth talking, smiling Irish bastard-type -- very charming, but a rogue, no doubt.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:07 AM
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I feel like there might be a relevant bible story somewhere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:08 AM
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Heh.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:09 AM
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My evil Irish grandmother would refer to the truly disfavored (which was everyone, mostly) as "that one".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:09 AM
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My aunt said something once about my grandmother trying to get all her kids and grandchildren to compete with each other, because she always praised mine cousin in front of another. I said that that was, because she was proud of all of us. She just didn't want us to let it get tour heads. Does that attitude exist anymore?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:41 AM
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My three-years-older sister and I did the typical high-achieving-and-responsible first child vs. coddled-but-resentful-and-acting-out baby thing. I absolutely despised her until she moved away for school, and we'd still regularly make each other cry (well, mostly me making her cry) during family vacations at least through my college years; I don't think it was until Caltech offered me a larger PhD stipend than they'd given her that I finally gave up the last of my bitterness (because I'm a petty, petty man). We're not close, but we're no longer hostile towards each other; we actually had a decent time e.g. visiting Berlin together when we were both in Europe. And the whole dynamic fucked up my relationship with my parents even more, though that improved in my mid-20s, before I got really locked into a downward spiral with grad school.

I don't have anything particularly useful to add; I just like talking about myself!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:44 AM
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I don't have anything particularly useful to add; I just like talking about myself!

New mouseover?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:46 AM
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62.last: Well absence of a parent will certainly put that parent's proxy child (if there is one) at a disadvantage.

Our kids are very blended, trait-wise. Iris has a strong bodily resemblance to my sister (tall and thin, although my sister was gangly in a way that Iris isn't), and I think Kai looks like AB's dad when he was little, but there's neither an uncanny physical similarity nor clear-cut personality distinctions. I'll admit it would be harder not to play favorites if one were much more simpatico with me, but they're their own people, truly.

If either kid resembled my MIL who drives me nuts*, that might be hard to take.

*good person with some serious flaws, and I think the outlier of the 4 grandparents in terms of overall personality/character


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:18 AM
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I don't have anything particularly useful to add; I just like talking about myself!

I think this accounts for a much larger fraction of my comments than it used to, but it's harder to find the time to contribute more subtantially these days.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:29 AM
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+s


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:29 AM
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73 shatters the use-mention distinction!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:35 AM
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I'll admit it would be harder not to play favorites if one were much more simpatico with me,

I've got this going on more than I'd like to admit. One child is often suspicious and cranky. The other child is playful and happy and easy-going.

It's hard to know what's okay for my internal monitoring and what's not. When does compatibility become unfair to the other kid?

(I'd welcome any thoughts/advice, actually.)


Posted by: JFK | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:37 AM
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77

If only I were more of an expert on hyena clitorides I could feel useful.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:39 AM
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78

77 to 76.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:40 AM
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79

77: this is how the whole physicist-switching-fields thing starts, isn't it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:42 AM
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80

76: So which one is more like you?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:43 AM
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80: I know it's the pat, easy answer, but it's true - I am more easy-going and jokey than my spouse.


Posted by: JFK | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:49 AM
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76: I would say keep as hard a lid on it as you can. I complained about my father favoring Sally over Newt above, and he's really not doing much to be unfair - presents are level and all that. But the transparent expression of differential levels of liking is really obvious, and I think it does lead to hurt feelings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:49 AM
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C's mother has always, by all accounts, completely favoured his older sister, and thinks he's a bad son. Which of course has meant that over the years he has turned into a bad son because when she sees him she's not very nice. She also sends to favour SIL's children - she thinks SIL's son is special because he was born a few weeks after her husband died. It's fucking irritating. The SIL has also had far more support (various forms) than C, which is kind of annoying, but not really, because being the well-functioning sibling is clearly preferable to the alternative.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 11:51 AM
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The pernicious part for me is my initial attention-giving. Ask about the boys and my first few answers will be about the one like us, and my next answer will be 'and the other also was great'. When I focus on the problem I can do better, but the initial bias is strong and I have to assume that I don't catch all the times I don't focus on keeping my attention equal.

I hope it isn't obvious, and for all I know, the dynamic is reversed when the boys are with the father's side of the family. But even being alert to the problem doesn't completely fix it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 12:22 PM
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76, 81 - I find it strange how traits that I can forgive or even find amusing or endearing in C, can completely infuriate me in kid B.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 12:32 PM
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JFK, I don't know what age group you're dealing with and you don't need to compromise your presidentiality by saying, but we've had some good luck on that front by having each parent cultivate a special shared interest or activity with each child or at least with the child who's a less comfortable fit. But I'm not sure I'm the best person to be answering this.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 12:41 PM
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I definitely think this was more acceptable in the past. My grandparents had clear favorites and it kind of fucked up that nuclear family to the extent that my mom is over-scrupulous about issues between my sister and myself ("I bought your sister a new blouse, so I'm sending you a check for $19") even though we think things are pretty equal and tell them not to bother. Our parents got along better with different kids (I get along with mom because I'm much more like dad, my sister and mom are too much alike to easily co-exist), but we always felt they both loved us and treated us equally.

My husband's family is a nightmare--three boys and he (the eldest) was nobody's favorite. It totally messed him up in ways that still affect our relationship (why are you such a needy, attention-hog? oh, right, you were nobody's favorite ) and affect parenting. He is really favoring one child over the other right now and I need him to cut it out. Also, his mother completely has favorite grandchildren (interestingly, our oldest child is the golden grandchild--she just doesn't really care as much about any of the others). The baby is too young to notice, but in a few years, I am sure I will get to have a lovely conversation with her about treating them equally. yay.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 12:54 PM
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(why are you such a needy, attention-hog? oh, right, you were nobody's favorite )

Wait. Then why am I such a needy attention-hog?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 1:15 PM
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OT: The Kale thread has suddenly become too dirty for me to read. I suppose it was the mayonnaise jokes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 1:17 PM
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Dude, me too! What on earth can you guys be talking about. Please don't say exactly, because then I'll be locked out of both.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 1:20 PM
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I saw the beginning of it -- mayonnaise being compared to a bodily fluid differing by only one letter from jazz. I figure the j-word must trigger the netnanny.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 1:22 PM
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Oh, sorry. It's just on the tip of my tongue.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 1:23 PM
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That's a somewhat offensive WWII-era name for the soldiers of an Axis power, LB, not a bodily fluid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 1:25 PM
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94

Sounds like puns and innuendo. I'm not missing anything, then.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 1:57 PM
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Oh, sorry. It's just on the tip of my tongue.

Mayo is for swallowing, hg.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 2:12 PM
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the number of commenters I have loved

Ze commenters I've loved before
Who travelled in and out my door
I'm glad zey came along
I dedicate zis song
To commenters I've loved before.

Ze commenters I once caressed...


Posted by: OPINIONATED (YET SUAVE) APOSTROPHER IGLESIAS | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 7:43 PM
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any given context has acceptable ways of being an asshole and taboo ways of being an asshole

In today's context, for example, many of the acceptable ways involve bleach.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-29-12 10:36 PM
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Martha's family basically wrote the manual on dysfunctionality, so favoritism was almost an insignificant detail. But one kid (male) was always favorite and one kid (female) was Cinderella. The others were in and out of favor at random, for no reason and with no warning. Oddly enough, most of them have got their shit together pretty well as adults, which both parents deeply resented.

Coming from a family with solidly supportive and engaged parents, it sounds exactly like hell to me. But I never cease to wonder at what children can survive.


Posted by: George Washington | Link to this comment | 08-30-12 2:18 AM
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My parents did pretty well on not having favourites. My father managed to have a different special bond with each of the three of us. (He also more or less managed this with his own siblings, actually.) My mother is probably closest to me now for reasons of shared gender and my spending most time wih her; my older brother is probably more like her in temperament in ways which make them clash, if anything. This brother kind of shocked me during my father's illness by saying that my father was his favourite person in the family. My younger brother was a bit sickly as a child so appeared "favoured" in ways and for different reasons is probably the most worried about now.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 08-30-12 5:09 AM
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BREAKING NEWS from nineteenth-century didactic literature: if you aren't repressive and pessimistic about your children, they will marry stupidly and die of an (implied) venereal disease!!! If you are repressive, they will have the good fortune to be crippled by ill-health and spend their lives in Christian virtue, loved by all! This is true parental love.

I had forgotten how much Yonge loves a crippled-protagonist resolution. _Chantry House_ has two, by the end.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-31-12 5:53 PM
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