Headline, May14, 2014



Professor Catherine Conger  - who specialises in human and community development at the University of California at Davis-

Assembled a group of  384 sibling pairs and their parents and visited them three times over three years. She questioned them about their relationships and videotaped them as:

They worked through conflicts. Overall, she concluded that 65% of mothers and 70% of fathers exhibited a preference for one child, usually the older one. And those numbers are almost certainly lowballs-

Since parents try especially hard to mask their preferences when a researcher is watching.

If the scientists don't see through the ploy, however, kids usually do  -and react accordingly. From the moment they are born,  brothers and sisters constantly jostle for the precious resource parental attention-

Each fighting to establish an identity that will best catch Mom's or Dad's eye:
I'm the smart one! I'm the funny one!

Just who will win that love-me-best sweepstakes is hard to predict. The father son bond is the stuff of the legend  -unless it's the father daughter one that's the rule in your family.

A mother innately understands her daughters  -unless the girls out to be a mystery to her and she adores one of her boys best. It's equally hard to predict the fallout from favouritism. Being the favourite may boost self-esteem and confidence.

But studies show it can also leave the kids with a sense of arrogance and entitlement. Unfavoured children may grow up wondering if they're somehow unworthy of the love the parents lavished on the golden child    

But they may do better at forging relationships outside the family as a result of that. And there's no telling how the differential treatment will play out among the kids.

''My mom didn't like my older sister and did like me,''  says Roseann Henry, an Editor and the married mother of two girls. ''Everyone assumed that I had great, except that my sister tortured me pretty much all the time  -

And really what affects daily life more for a kid, the approval of of a parent or the day-to-day torment of an older sister?''

IF THE PARENTAL value of assigning different values to different children can cause such pain, it's hard to understand why it ever became such a firmly established part of human nature.

As with so much else in child-rearing behaviour, it begins with the parents' survival needs: the biologically narcissistic act of replicating through succeeding generations.

This impels Mom and Dad to tilt in favour of their biggest, healthiest  offspring, since those kids will be more reproductively successful and get more of the family's genes into the next generation.

That kind of reductionist, bottom-line behaviour is something we share with creatures throughout the animal kingdom.

A crested-penguin mother will kick the smaller of her two eggs out of the nest, the better to focus on the presumably heartier chick in the bigger shell. 

A black eagle mother will watch idly while her bigger chick rips her smaller one to ribbons. ''The function of the second chick is insurance,''  says Douglas Mock, a professor of zoology at the University of Oklahoma. ''If the first chick is healthy, the policy is cancelled.''

Humans may be a lot smarter than black eagles  -and certainly more loving -but we're driven by the same evolutionary impulses, even if we're unaware of them.

The most conspicuous signs of fitness, of course, is physical appearance, and parents have a connoisseur's eye for what's appealing in a child. 

There is not a parent on the planet who would admit to favouring a beautiful child over a less beautiful one, but scientists aren't constrained by the same pretense of impartiality.

Long standing bodies of work point to human's deeply  wired bias  for the lovely over the less so   -in the family, in the workplace and certainly in the dating market.

It's part of what psychologist and sibling expert  Catherine Salmon of the University of Redlands in California calls  -the  ''general heuristic that things that are attractive are healthy and good and smart.''

The Honour and Serving of this Unique Post continues. Don't miss the next one.

With respectful dedication to all the Moms and Dads of the world. With respectful dedication to all the Students of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

'''Hardwired For Love'''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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