I have always believed very strongly that a parent should do everything they can to avoid falling into the trap of favoritism. When a parent adores one child over another, either openly or subtly, the child who feels that he or she is less loved never shakes that feeling. It can cloud their entire life. I’ve seen this in those close to me, friends and relatives, and the results always seem to be same. This feeling of “Why did Mom or Dad love my brother or sister more?” can undermine their very sense of self.
A friend of mine just lost his father after a lengthy battle with cancer. HIs father, it turns out, named my friend as executor of the estate, but the kicker is that he has left everything to his other two children: my friend’s brother and sister. I am beside myself with the what I consider to be a huge slap in the face.
When asked why, my friend simply says that his father always loved the brother and sister more.
Knowing his father only in passing, I have a feeling that what’s more to the point is that while my friend is an entirely self sufficient adult, capable of starting and growing his own home business and raising a wonderful family, his siblings definitely are not. They needed taking care of well into adulthood. Whether it was because of because their father did everything for them and they never learned themselves, or because they are just inherently slackers or because they used their father’s weakness to their advantage, they always managed to garner more attention and get more “stuff” in the process. My friend, never asking for anything, never got much of anything: attention or otherwise.
I wish that my friend’s father were still alive. I’d tell him the damage he did with this less than stellar parenting. I would make him see that of his three children, it was my friend (and his amazing wife) who was there throughout the cancer, throughout the doctor’s appointments, the search for a skilled nursing home, everything. My friend was always willing to drop his life to take care of his father. You couldn’t say the same for the brother or the sister.
I would show his father how wonderful a son he has in my friend. I know it. I just wish that his father were the type of parent who could see that the point of being a parent is to one day no longer be needed by your children. It is to train them well enough that they can stand on their own, without assistance. This man never told my friend that he is proud of the person his son had become. Now, it’s too late.