Actress Jamie Pressley recently found herself at the center of internet controversy after she posted an Instagram photo of herself with her oldest son.
"Best time ever hangin with my favorite son, Dezi. That's right I said it. I have a favorite son although I luv all 3 of my boys with everything I have in me. Dez and I have a special bond that no one else will ever match because we've grown up together," she wrote under the pic.
Many internet commenters were quick to come for Pressley, suggesting that it's not okay to have a favorite child. But many parents with multiple children can relate to the nuanced situation. It's complicated and there's no shame in Pressley admitting that she has a special bond with her oldest. What's not okay is people shaming her for admitting that.
Pressley says she has a special bond with her oldest son because they grew up together. It's okay for her to admit that her relationship with her other two sons is different from the one she has with Des. Some commenters pointed out that they would never say that one of their children was the favorite because they would not want to hurt their other kids.
"It's impossible not to have favorites," says Dr. Barbara Howard, a developmental behavioral pediatrician who is the president of Total Child Health, "and we do know that the perception of favoritism is one of the biggest factors in sibling rivalry."
Howard, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told the New York Times that behavioral problems can manifest if kids know they are not the parent's preferred child. And while there is nothing wrong with having a favorite kid, experts do suggest making sure that all your kids know they are loved.
Sometimes love isn't equal, it's different. Admitting that works for Pressley, but it might not work for every parent.
Also, you can have a favorite kid without playing favorites. You just have to be aware of your own tendency to favor a kid and how your kids may perceive it. If you favor one kid right now, challenge yourself to make the other(s) feel special, too.
Many parents feel closer to a certain kid at different times in their lives. Maybe your oldest is your fave in this season of life and soon you'll come to feel closer to your youngest. It doesn't have to remain steady, and it doesn't mean you're a bad mom. It just means you're human.
You might also like:
- My daughter only wants Daddy and—I have to admit—it hurts a little
- Everyone told me my second child would be so much harder than my first, but they were wrong
- Are first-born children more intelligent? Behind the viral headlines