My parents favour my sister over me and no matter how hard I try to please them; it just doesn’t work. This is frustrating especially since I don’t know what else to do to win them over. I feel very hurt and I wonder if I can change anything about it.

Distressed girl

Favouritism exists in many families. In psychology, the phenomenon is termed as differential parenting and it is believed that a parent would favour a child that is most likely to take care of them in old age. This is usually the first or last child.

And there are consequences of favouritism. A child who is favoured often has an enmeshed relationship with the parents that hinder successful development; in contrast to a child who has been less favoured and has had to fend for himself. Those children tend to be independent, self-reliant, and assertive. However, in extreme cases of favouritism, a child who has been shunted aside in favour of a sibling loses confidence, is submissive, and unable to sustain positive relationships with others.

The March Issue of Parents Magazine is here!
As we celebrate our women this month, we bring you the best stories and the most inspiring features to get you going.

In trying to find answers to your queries, it is important to note circumstances that might have led to the differential parenting. For example, do your sibling’s values seem more compatible to your parents than yours? Are you as emotionally available as they are? Are you a middle child, and therefore don’t have the natural favoured role of oldest or youngest? If it helps, know that most parents do not do this consciously and they may actually be unaware that their actions are sending the wrong message.

Tileh Pacbro: On dancing his way to his best life
With a stunning dance career and a casual nod of acknowledgement from A-listers such as Cardi B and Justin Bieber, it is easy to think his start was just as glamorous. It was anything but.

The most important thing to do at this point is to have a talk with your parents, hard as it may be. Point out to them ways in which they presently practice differential parenting. Be smart about it and don’t bring up the past hundred years of transgressions because that will only put your parents on the defensive.

Be clear about what you want from your parents. When you give specific instructions, measurable and quantifiable direction, it is easier to incorporate them into life than vague, non-specific behaviours.

Finally, accept that some parents, although they love all their children passionately, they can sometimes like one child more than others. Your relationship with your sibling doesn’t need to be affected if you realise that despite your parents’ behaviour, your favored sibling loves you just the same.

Photo courtesy: PEXELS