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Parents may claim that they love all their children equally, but a study by University of California has shown this to be a lie.

Sociologists have shown that 74 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers tend to have a preferential bias towards one child.

Published in the Journal of Family Psychology, the study did not identify which child is the favourite within its findings, although Program Chair, Katherine Conger said the study did show that more firstborns believe that they are the most favoured.

Rather than working with the usual assumption that eldest children are treated differently because of their position and ‘status’ within a family, this result works against this common hypothesis.

The result is based around the eldest child’s ability to achieve things first within the family, for example sports or at school.  They even have the ‘power’ to “generally confound their parents as to what to do.”  

The younger children within the family also believe that the firstborns are preferred.  It is also perhaps because when the younger siblings repeat the action of the elders, the parents are better prepared to take action. Whatever the exact reason, no matter what the birth order, every child feels that there is preferential treatment to other siblings.

Ms Conger says, “Everyone feels their brother or sister is getting a better deal,” adding, “Regardless of how you look at it, both [earlier and later-born kids] are perceiving preferential treatment.”

Image source: Shutterstock

  • I think the study is quite true lbs to still favour the children I must say not all parents do I certainly don’t favour either of my children as I have two boys 2 Years Apart what one gets the other one gets and if I can’t give it to one I don’t give it to the other I think it’s extremely unfair and it makes the child feel less than equal I also know this is a fact even though I don’t favour either one it does create a wedge between two siblings regardless of how many children who have I think it can be very cool to do such a thing .you can actually scar your child psychologically. Which will stay with your child for ever. So parents please think before choosing to do this as it does have consequences.

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  • I think it depends on the day and the circumstance, i love my kids but some days they really make it hard for me to want to be around them

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  • My preference changes often – which kid I prefer varies.

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  • I wouldn’t call it favourite but I definitely find one of my children easier to get along with.. That may change. I love them both equally though

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  • Really? Is this ‘middle child syndrome’ talking? I love our four kids to pieces and connect with them in different ways, accepting their personalities and traits. I’m conscious when I’m talking to my mum or grandma to share special news of all four kids with each phone call, even if one hasn’t had anything dramatic happen that particular week. I certainly perceive that some families may have favourites, but I don’t feel I do. I don’t believe my parents did either, as they simply adjusted their parenting as we grew up and still maintain a close relationship with all of us.

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  • I don’t believe my parents had a favourite, but they did treat the children differently based on that child’s personality. For example, I’m able to dish out and take criticism, so my parents were far more direct with me, whereas my sibling is far more sensitive, so the approach was a little different.

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  • Despite what parents say, I think kids are not fools and can tell who is more favoured. We do however, try to treat all kids equally – and thats the main thing – that they are all loved and provided with as much as possible to support them throughout their lives.

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  • No favourites – all are unique and special!

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  • As someone who knows the heartache of not being a favourite, I could never do that to my own children. The hurt never leaves. I love my children all equally and no one gets special treatment.


    • I agree with you – all children need to feel special and loved. :)

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  • Ive got 3 daughters and I would not say that I love one of them more then the other but I do connect with each of them on different levels and in different ways.
    My eldest is the responsible one that always wants to accompany me if I have to attend a funeral or rush to someones hospital bedside. She tells me everything (or almost) thats going on in her life and talk every few days.
    My middle daughter is a laugh a minute and such a sweetheart. She is happy to go for a month at a time without contact but its not because shes too lazy to call or email its just that she feels there is nothing new to share and she knows shes loved and i know she loves me so all is fine with the world.
    My youngest and i share a passion for skincare and beauty items. She worries bigtime if im sick. When something is bothering her she becomes stressed and has the habit of being bitchy so that I feel relief when she leaves the house….but I still love her to bits :)

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  • I do not have a favourite…. yet!

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  • I am a middle child and I never felt like I was the favourite kid! :D

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  • I think there is truth that the first born has more responsibility and always is told that they need to set standards for the rest of the children. I also think that the youngest gets the most attention particularly if there is a big age difference between children.

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  • Like it

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  • I have two girls 9 and 5 and I can tell you some days I have a favourite other days not so much – it generally has to do with who is being the most well behaved for the day lol!

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