Dads

You have a favorite child? Fine, just don't admit it!

Sep. 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM ET

A dad blogger wrote about how one of his two children is his favorite, and now he's surprised that people are criticizing him for it.

Dude, are you serious?

First of all, liking one child a little more is nothing remarkable. Plenty of parents have a favorite, even if the status rotates based on which child has not recently colored the dog with Sharpies or put pancakes in the DVD player. 

Vote: Would you admit you have a favorite child?

But you don't say it out loud! And you certainly don't publish it on the Internet for everyone to see, and Google, in perpetuity. While the writer doesn't use his own name on the column, he does helpfully supply photos and name his children, both the favorite and the other one.

There's nothing subtle about what he writes:

Yes, I have a favorite son and I’m not ashamed to admit it....

My choosing Zacharie as my favorite is not about ‘playing favorites,’ or ‘preferential treatment’ when I’m parenting.  I don’t let Zacharie get away with anything because he’s my first pick, I just .. yknow .. like him better. ...

When it comes to weekends when my wife and I divide the boys up to have an easier time running errands, I usually pick Z.

If there was a parenting boot camp, and maybe there should be, this would be one of the first lessons screamed at you by the cranky drill sergeant. When your children ask who's the favorite -- and they will, and they will be persistent and sneaky about it -- SAY NOTHING. Oh sure, they may suspect that you have a favorite. They may wonder, and they may accuse. But they must never know. Sibling rivalry is tough enough, and naming a favorite is just throwing parental kindling on the fire.

If you feel up to more advanced parental Jedi mind tricks, you can take each child aside and tell them that they are secretly your favorite child, but not to tell the others. If you're lucky they won't compare notes until after you're dead. If not, at least you'll discover which of your kids can keep a secret.

In the comments, the writer responds defensively to critics, saying they must be "perfect" parents. But this isn't about being perfect. Parenting expert and TODAY contributor Michele Borba, author of "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions," says it's unrealistic to treat siblings exactly the same -- after all, they're different people. But she says parents do need to refrain from comparing siblings (she's talking about more subtle comparisons, but naming one as your outright favorite certainly qualifies):

Don’t drive yourself too crazy trying to always make things always fair. The real trick is to minimize conditions that break down sibling relationships and cause long-lasting resentment. ... Never compare or praise one kid’s behavior in contrast to a sibling: it can create long-lasting strains.

So, for example, writing a blog post that says "my older son is my favorite of the two. He and I are adventurous partners in crime, and I can’t imagine life without him," as this dad does, is the kind of thing that can really mess a kid up.

In the comments, the dad blogger uses the everybody-thinks-it defense, saying: "Why is it so evil to say out loud and work through?"

Here's the thing, dad blogger: Not every thought you have as a parent needs to be published. There's a thin line between refreshing honesty and just being mean, and going on and on about your favorite (and least favorite) child crosses the line. At least in my book. What do you think? Do you have a favorite, and would you admit it?

TODAY Moms editor Rebecca Dube, has a favorite reader, and it's YOU, because you are a special snowflake. Shhh, don't tell the others....

More stories:

Three strategies to stopping sibling squabbles

Parents fess up to secretly having favorites

Giuliana Rancic writes about falling in love with her baby

Dad's view: I wanted a boy and got a girl... thank goodness

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