When I tell people why I chose to study psychology, they look at me with a judgmental face. Indeed, what I am telling them is actually very concerning and can be considered contradictory, but I believe it is the truth. Ever since I was a child, I was aware of this phenomenon.
Now that I am an adult hoping to become a University student in psychology, I know what my first intellectual challenge will be.
Ever since I watched ‘Sophie’s choice’, I know I am not the only one. Having been a girl who lived with a sibling, I am very much aware of the fact that parents don’t love all their children the same.
If you are a parent yourself, you are probably judging me, too. But, I truly believe that there is such thing as having a favorite child. Wondering how I know this? I know it because I was the other one.
Of course that it is us who recognize this phenomenon. My brother could not possibly notice the difference. After all, you can hardly detect that someone does not get the attention and love you get if your parents spoil you every second of every day.
Since I set this to be my biggest focus ever since I started exploring Psychology, I learned that my parents aren’t to be blamed for this behavior. Even science writer Jeffrey Kluger speaks of this behavior in The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us.  My belief is that this is something that is already hard-wired into our brain. Since even parents can’t really do anything about it (except to pretend to love both children the same), teaching people that this is normal human behavior might lessen the blow to those who feel left out.
I learned how judgmental my parents get when I tell them I am the least-loved child in my family. They are angry because, in their heart, they want to convince themselves that they love both their children the same. But, when it comes to a situation when both children need them, they will always turn to help the favored one. Even when the situation is not as tough for both of them, parents will feel more compassion for their preferred child. It is the hard truth and probably a reason why one child in almost every family in the world grows feeling left out like I did.
This is a very serious problem. Children who feel less loved are much more likely to fight with their siblings. In extreme cases, such behavior can lead to hatred between the children and is the most common reason why many siblings fight over the stupidest things. Jealousy is also a very normal phenomenon but in this case, it is to such a high level sustained and expanded throughout the years, it can reach a very dangerous level. This can extend to hating the parents or hating the sibling for being the favorite one, and even cause depression in a child who feels left out.
Funny thing is, even our parents tend to say the same. If you are lucky enough, you’ll get the two favorite children of their families as your parents, so you will never hear this from them. In my case, I got a mother whose parents favored her brother. Interestingly enough, she was so frustrated and always talked about it, but never admitted or recognized the same flaw in herself. Not even when I pointed it out. Parents live by some unwritten rule that they have to love all their children the same. So, when they are actually faced with the problem, they cannot see or accept it. Not even a parent who has lived through the very same thing all her life, and still have the invisible scars that simply won’t ever heal.
When I confronted my parents about it, they yelled and got mad. But, whenever I tell another person how I feel at home, half of them understand me! It is such a strange psychology – if you talk about this to all the children of the same family, one of them will completely understand what you are saying.
This claim was even backed by science very recently. Catherine Conger, a community and human development professor at the University of California, Davis performed a research on how families work through conflicts. Her research showed that 70% of fathers and 65% of mothers had a preference for one child!
This is my goal for a while now – to learn more about human behavior and family relations and see what can be done to improve this. I don’t think this is a solvable thing. Since it is in the nature of humans, they will keep favoring one child over the other. But, what I can do is find the truth for myself and everyone else, and prove people once and for all that they do favor one child over the other. If this is finally accepted by the people, we can move on to helping those who feel left out and even attempting to make both kids feel like they are the same to us.
Until then, I will have one child only. I will love him or her unconditionally and there will be no one else there to compete with him. That’s why I want to be enrolled in your University – to be able to widen my knowledge and explore this topic to start with. Psychology amazes and terrifies me, and is the best thing that I could have discovered in my life.