The subject of family favourites is likely to cause fierce feuds between siblings, and is it any wonder? No child likes to contemplate that their parents might favour one child over the other, but a new study has (uncomfortably) confirmed this may be the case.
In a study carried out by sociologist Katherine Conger, researchers asked 384 groups of adolescent siblings whether or not they felt their parents preferred one child over another, and how that has affected their self-esteem. The primary findings of the study revealed that the eldest child most commonly feels that they are they favourite, due to a combination of factors including first-born status, and the increased power that comes with age and a lifetime spent paving the way.
Firstborns tended to feel preferred, perhaps because for a while there, they were (technically) only children, according to the Science of Us. Once the younger siblings came along, their status as the eldest child made them the first in the family to score in sports, lead the way academically, and generally confound their parents as to what to do.
Younger kids, therefore, felt a little shortchanged by parental attention, saying that they could sense the firstborn bias and worryingly, that it affected their self-esteem — much more so than older kids.
But here’s the surprising aspect of the study: Even if parents didn’t admit to kids that they liked one child over another, 70% of fathers and 74% of mothers confessed to researchers that they definitely showered one child with preferential treatment over others.
However, Conger added that children tend to sense that parents favour a sibling regardless of age. “Everyone feels their brother or sister is getting a better deal,” she said.
So, there you go. Let the sibling rivalry commence.