Headline, May18, 2014



NOT ALL favoured kids come to the grief the fictitious Biff did, of course.

For most, the humbling that comes from moving into a world in which people judge more objectively can be an essential step to success.

But whether favoured kids learn the lesson well or not, it almost always awaits them. As family expert and author Judith Harris puts it, the first-among equals status conferred in the home  ''doesn't travel well.''

Favoured sibs have other burdens to carry well before adulthood  -among them a sense of guilt. It's hard not to feel pleasure at the preferential treatment that keeps coming at them from Mom and Dad.

BUT it's hard not to feel sympathy for brothers and sisters who are denied it too.

Lawrence Wynn,  20, a  ''college student''   raised Pacific Palisades, Calif, experienced such mixed feelings about his younger sister Emma, 17   -not their real names- . Lawrence was their father's favourite, and he and Emma knew it.

The disparate treatment got worse when their parents were divorcing and the stress of a fracturing family was expressed in their father's occasional outbursts of anger, often directed at Emma. Lawrence would come to her defense.

''I remember our dad would start yelling and my brother would try and steer his anger away from me,''  Emma says. ''Then I felt guilty because my father would be screaming at my brother.'' 

It's a neat trick when a single parental act  -openly preferring one child over another  -can leave both kids with a guilt burden to carry.

But even the most blatant favouritism is easier to take when there's a defensible reason for it. Perhaps the most extreme example is when one child in the home has special needs.

Children with  Down Syndrome  or autism certainly require a particular kind of care and attention, including extra applause for skills learned. 

Kids with physical disabilities or challenge will require more time and attention from parents too, and that-

Time and attention will necessarily be subtracted from the fixed amount they will have to give other kids. This is the human equivalent of the  coot's  instinct to protect the weakest  -though amplified exponentially by our specie's capacities for love.

Still even the most tolerant siblings will at some point begin to feel that, healthy or not, they deserve their full share of care. Talking about the situation openly is the best and most direct way to limit resentment. 

''Parents should give reasons for the differential treatment is important,'' says Whiteman.

 ''Research suggests that differential treatment may have no negative effect when children understand why.''

Kids are also good at understanding that an older sibling will enjoy certain prerogatives that younger sibs don't get. What's more, the fact that the older sib does such trailblazing can mean looser rules for the younger ones.

Parents may be besides themselves with worry the first time their firstborn  gets behind the wheel. By the time the second or third kid is doing it, things are more relaxed.

''What comes first is more salient,''  Whiteman says. ''The age at which kids get privileges will look the same in terms of trajectory, but for second-borns, everything occurs earlier.''

One of the best things about favouritism conflicts is that they usually fade away as children grow older. 

Usually, of course, is not the same as always, and childhood resentment may never be entirely forgotten. 

Life issues such as which child becomes the caretaker of aged parents or who is bequeath the most in a will can often become occasions to refight old wars and relitigate old grievances.

But take heart,  because, still, in the best of circumstances, these battles can be fleeting.

At every later stage in your life,  -you will discover parents defending every past act. They will have their version and their story. 

'''And they will stick to it. Come what may!'''

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

''' Honour & Honours '''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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