Do parents really have a favorite child? According to “The Science of Favoritism” by Jeffrey Kluger, yes, parents do have a favorite child although they try very hard to hide it. This article is about parents having a favorite child and the science behind it. It also talks about how nature plays a role in child favoritism, how favoritism is influenced by gender, and what it feels like to be the second best.
Not only does Jeffrey Kluger bring up great points throughout his article but he has many examples of real life situations from interviewing people.
For example, when going and actually watching various siblings and parents, Catherine Conger, found that “70% of fathers and 65% of mothers actually do have a favorite child” (Kluger 44-50). She says that “these numbers are probably even higher because parents try very hard to try and hide their favoritism” (Kluger 44-50). The author relates child favoritism to how it works in nature. Parents want their kids to be the best and most successful out of all the other kids.
Just like with animals, parents will pick the strongest, healthiest child to be the favorite and this is mainly because of genes and reproduction.
Douglas Mock says that “we are like the black-eagle who has more than one kid for insurance purposes” (Kluger 44-50). The second or third child would be considered insurance in case the first kid is not strong or smart enough, but if the first child is superior then the policy is terminated.
With gender roles in favoritism, the author states that the mother may pick the first son as her favorite and the father may pick the youngest daughter as his favorite. Douglas Mock shows many examples of how this is true and writes that girls will follow in their father’s footsteps where as the boys will follow in their mother’s footsteps.
When talking about being second best, the article shows how not being the favorite is very hard on a child. Clare Stocker did a study on 136 sibling pairs and found that the child being loved the less will usually develop depression and low self-esteem. This doesn’t mean that that most favored child will always be the most successful. Child favoritism can also damage the favorite child because they may be used to getting everything and may not develop certain skills.
I find all this evidence very compelling, and being the second child and youngest of two sons, I believe a lot of what this article says is true. I also think a lot of it depends upon who the parents are and I don’t totally agree with some of the points made. Yes, my brother is bigger and stronger, but I am probably healthier and smarter. We both have our perfections and we both have our flaws but I would say we are both equal. That doesn’t mean our parents don’t have favorites, because I’m sure they do but I would say it changes from time to time.
This article can be used by many people but there is a specific audience that can really benefit from reading this article. I would say the author was trying to reach either young couples thinking about starting a family, couples that have recently started a family, or couples that have already gone through parenting. He would try to reach young couples either thinking about a family or young couples that just started a family because it would be helpful for them to know this information and would hopefully lead to better parenting and decision making so their kids, either the second best or even the favorite, don’t end up totally damaged.
The author would also be trying to reach couples that have gone through parenting and all their kids are grown up because maybe they need to help the child that wasn’t loved as much. I think that the author effectively addressed the target audience especially with all the stories and research he found and put in the article.
Kluger, Jeffrey. “Why Mom Liked You Best: The Science of Favoritism.” Time. 02 10 2011: 44-50. Print.