I have two children, a 24 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. They are the best of friends until it comes to one particular argument that they have been having for the last 19 years since they were both old enough to debate it….who is Mom’s favorite child? And regardless of how many times I have explained to them that it is impossible for a parent to have a favorite child because you love each of your children unconditionally, they are still determined to stake the claim as “the favorite”.
The methods they use to prove who is the favorite child range include things such as counting the number of photos I have of each of them in pictures frames at my house, to counting the number of compliments one child gets in a day versus the other child, to figuring out how many Christmas gifts each one received in comparison to the other. All of which has caused me to constantly worry over the years about doing anything that would make one child feel less favored than the other. In fact, when we built our new home I had to make sure that both children had the exact same square footage and layout for their bedrooms just to remove any potential claims being made about favorites. I couldn’t help but wonder if other parents had to deal with the accusations about “favorites” in their families?
I discovered the answer to that question recently on a trip we took with several families. The kids in the different families all began talking about which child was the “favorite” child within their families and which child was seen as what they titled the “bottom feeder”…or “bf” for short. I and the other parents in the room immediately spoke up telling the kids that no one was a bottom feeder and no one was a favorite. The kids fought back all citing past examples of situations that they felt proved their case:
One teenage son shared the story of how late one evening he told his mother he was hungry to which she responded that it was too late to make him something to eat and he’d be fine until tomorrow. He said moments later his older brother, who was visiting home from college, came into the room and asked his mom for a quesadilla to which she immediately responded “Do you want an Italian one, or a spicy one, or what kind can I make you?” The teenage son said, “See…it’s cause he is the favorite and I am the bottom feeder.” His Mother quickly explained that his brother isn’t home very often and that was the reason why that occurred.
Then my 21 year old daughter joined in saying how she understood the teen’s pain because she also had a brother who was the favorite at our house and she too was a BF (bottom feeder). I immediately jumped in saying, “You know darn well just how loved and spoiled you are…” and started listing out several of the ways she’d been blessed by her parents who clearly don’t see her as a bottom feeder!
The teenage boy who had shared the quesadilla story cut me off as I was rattling off a list and said, “Look, we aren’t saying that you don’t love us…we are just saying you love us a little bit less…”.
Aye Yai Yai….for the rest of the trip we listened as the kids from each family would share with one another their woes of being the “BFs” while their siblings bragged about being the “favorites”.
Sometimes as a parent you just can’t win…but hey, there is comfort in knowing other parents are dealing with it too… #strengthinnumbers Maybe we should be the ones asking our kids to make us the quesadilla! #parentsarethetruebottomfeeders
~Amy Rees Anderson