This weeks dust up is coming from a father who wrote a blog post on Babble about how he likes his older son, 5-year-old Zacharie, over his 2-year-old son, Charlie, and when it comes time to split up the kids for purposes of running errands, he always picks Zacharie.
Some moms on the Internet thought the declaration of having a preference for one child over the other was super shitty. And it is pretty super shitty when you think about it.
It’s shitty because it’s inexperienced and rude. Of course a 2-year-old is less engaged and mature and a little less interesting than a 5-year-old. Duh.
Furthermore, it’s shitty because the father, who posted as “DADCAMP”, gave examples absolving him of guilt and granting him permission to support his writing about his favorite child online in way that suggested, ’Hey! Everybody does it. I’m just writing about it’.
Writing about it online makes it worse to the 10th power because now his toddler son has his runner up placement already carved in his father’s life and he lives it out infamy, for the world to see and cite and for friends to reference when he gets older.
It’s also shitty because, unlike this supposed grown-up and contrary to the father’s beliefs, Charlie will catch wind of this. While DADCAMP said that he loved both his sons the minute they were born, he also makes it clear that he’s not ashamed to admit that he has “a favorite son”.
He goes on to ask his readers to look themselves in the mirror and admit they have a favorite too. But why? Whose purpose does it serve? Does it help the child who is not the favorite? Does it make that child feel more ashamed, and therefore the father and favorite child get a little schadenfreude from it?
So, unless the lesser liked son learns with the understanding of selfish adults, in a way mature beyond his years — understanding and forgiveness is totally presumptuous. This father has no way of knowing if his declaration will have a long lasting impact on Charlie. It’s hardly a stretch to think that this could very well affect his self esteem and self confidence.
And for what? Pageviews?
Now before I delclare this father asshole of the year, I must admit he did clarify that he simply enjoys hanging out with his older son because he’s not that into the baby stages. He says his wife is, but he isn’t. He claims to enjoy the age when kids can interact with adults, instead of changing diapers, shaking shiny objects and making sure they don’t stick their finger in a light socket. Okay. I can get behind that. That makes sense and is completely unoffensive and understandable and common.
But that is also back-tracking on his original point — that’s it’s okay to have a favorite and announce it to the whole world. If it were only a case of liking children more when they can interact more than when they are so reliant, it would not have been offensive and sad.
I have personally witnessed families torn apart by “favorites”, with siblings so resentful and angry that they wind up hating their “favorite” sibling or worse, the “favorite” winds up bullying the other child when the parent isn’t looking, knowing they have an elevated place in the house and they can simply bat their eyelashes, claim the other one is lying and they get away with murder. If the parent isn’t there to witness it, they will likely side with the favorite. It’s just the way it is, especially to those who openly state a favorite to begin with.
Furthermore, there is a reason making a definitive statement on which child you like best is considered boorish. It’s called boundaries. It’s called being a parent and not always saying everything you think. It’s about self control and it’s about trying to overcome your preference as a parent and working hard to seem completely love-neutral to your kids because your kids didn’t ask to be born and they didn’t ask you to be their parent. It’s your job to keep you lesser liked child protected from every single thought you have in your head, the same reason you try to keep yourself from calling your child an “idiot” when your child does five dumb things in a row.
Every parent makes mistakes. It’s gonna happen, but failing to see it is to the determent of your kids…not cool.