Everyone is talking about blogger Buzz Bishop's (Dad Camp) confession that he has a favorite child. In his blog post, titled: "The Time When My Girlfriend Got Pregnant,” he told the story of how he met his wife. Toward the end of the post, he says: “If I were to be absolutely honest, 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.”
And the Internet went BONKERS. Some applauded the post, and said that they, too, have a favorite. Others argued that they do not have a favorite child and worried about the effect of such an admission on one's children. In an effort to clarify his feelings, Bishop wrote a follow-up post titled: “Admit It, You Have A Favorite Kid. I Do.” In it, he explained why his prefers his older son:
“I admit it, my oldest son is my favorite because he can do more things. To me, he’s more fun. I don’t love either of my sons any more than the other, but I do like them differently. I’d be willing to bet you’re the same.”
Bishop seems to be defending his statement by saying, “Well...so do you!” But the issue isn't just – as far as I am concerned – about whether or not a parent actually does have a favorite child. The issue is also that this parent chose to use a public forum to share that favorite. I find that sad, and unfortunate for his youngest son, who gets carried along in the wake of his father's 15 minutes of fame.
It is possible that Bishop chose his words poorly. It is also possible that that was intentional, in order to create more buzz. But when he says that he prefers to spend time with his older son because “he can do more things”, that doesn't sound like a father who cares more for one child than the other. That sounds like a dad who likes to play in a different way with his older child, and who – when his younger son grows older – will eventually play with both boys the same way.
Perhaps he has a preference for one AGE over the other. THAT I could understand. I love the age my kids are right now, and I can guarantee that if they had a younger sibling I would not be as excited about infant and toddler care as I am about hanging out with my preschoolers. It's the difference between saying a child can do more fun things, and, as Bishop puts it, saying that “[that child is] more fun.”
Bishop says that it is a matter of “liking” one more than the other. So does liking a child and calling them your favorite differ from the love you feel for all of your children? To Bishop, I suppose it does. But I have always liked the phrase, “I don't just LOVE you, I LIKE you.” Because loving our children is (for most of us) a given. But liking someone infers that there is a choice involved – that this person is so terrific that you don't just love them as your child, but you like them as a person.
So, no, I do not have a favorite child. I do not have a child that I love but don't like as much as the other. Are there times when one is a pain in the butt and the other isn't? YES. Double and triple yes. But that does not change my feelings for them. In my mind, parental love is unconditional, because what you like and love is that child, that particular little soul...not their actions that day, or whether or not they are old enough to kick a ball around with you.
Perhaps Bishop has forgotten what your parent's opinion means to you as a child. It is not a news flash that parents have an effect on their child's self-esteem. Life is going to throw so many lemons at my children – I want them to have at least one person in their life with whom they never feel “less than”. One person who they know will always have their back. One person that they know loves AND likes them no matter what. That person will always be me.