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I love one of my children more than the other

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 10 July 2014
Dear Patricia Marie

I'm worried that I love one of my children more than the other. While one is sweet-natured, funny and full of character, the other is sullen and unresponsive. My husband doesn't seem to notice the difference, but to me it's obvious and I find it hard to treat them in the same way. I hate myself for it, but I'd rather spend time with one than the other. How can I stop this cycle?

Patricia Marie says...

If you think favouritism is no big deal - think again. The consequences for both the golden child and the least favourite can last a lifetime. Many adults embark on counselling due to the psychological damage of having either been the rejected, or indeed the favourite sibling. That early message of  "you're the special one " to a child can give a distorted view of themselves and their place in the world. For those parents who show preference and turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour, the child can then grow up struggling with rules, as well as lacking in morals and may struggle to find a partner who cherishes and spoils them in the way their parents have.

The least favourite, on the other hand, can go through life never feeling good enough, constantly feeling they are undeserving of love and kindness - often embarking on relationships with partners who treat them poorly.

Step into their world and try to imagine how they are feeling. Indeed, both are victims of your favouritism, and unless you see things more clearly and break the cycle, you could jeopardise any future relationship with them.

Your letter indicates you are feeling guilty for your behaviour -  this recognition is a good step towards promoting positive change. Start by treating your children equally. Lose comparisons and begin celebrating, rather than criticising their differences, as this will allow you the opportunity to turn things around and create a healthy, happy family.
And finally, sibling love is unique. Who but your brother or sister remembers, the family rituals, the good, bad and crazy fun times -  all those childhood memories that help to bond this special love. Favouritism can ruin a relationship between siblings, depriving them, sometimes forever, of a precious resource. It is one of the best gifts you, their parent, will ever give them: one another.

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows


Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 02 September 2013
Can a nanny have a favourite?

There will always be moments and even far-TOO-long-and-torturous-times, when one of the little darlings in your care is bound to be more likable than the others.

However, there is never a time when your behaviour towards each one must, and I stress, should not be fair and healthy, and without reproach.

Whilst one may be easier to engage, to enjoy, to be around, or to have fun with, this is a situation that should be a challenge rather than unjust.

Sweet, accommodating, respectful, versus frustrating, disobedient and just plain exhausting. Sarah pushes your buttons with her hyper, head-spinning behaviour, and her more subdued older sibling Jimmy embodies raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Reality is that you won’t be able to sing your way out of a rock and a hard place, but don’t discount a cheery jingle under your breath. Think “The Sound of Music” and smile, Smile, SMILE!

Actually, forget the muteness, warble as loud as you can. Maybe one of you will soon be giggling.

Another approach is to turn this taxing time into an ideal opportunity to reinforce some ground rules and offer learning lessons. Be clear and consistent. Calm. Talk through what’s happening and aim for an outcome of understanding on both sides, even if you are the one stifling the tears. Life is not a TV sitcom solved in one episode, so don’t get too disheartened.

There is much research by learned souls confirming that attractive people favour more attention. Similarly, a cute child can also be more popular and a genetic lottery should not be an excuse for favouritism. Society's standards of beauty and the media don’t help, again no need to deliver inappropriate messages to impressionable minds.

A child is a blank canvas for new experiences. Depending on their age, first times can have a life-long impact so as the nanny it’s your job to make it positive. A happy memory. Constructive.

And when in doubt, hug.

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