Playing Favourites: Taboo Carnival

The Taboo Carnival

Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this summer is PLAYING FAVORITES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on favoritism in relationships with children, parents, siblings, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



Playing favourites is perhaps instinctual and derived from an evolutionary mechanism of protecting and loving most the ones that we are most like. Having taken zero anthropology or psychology in university that is my best guess as to why humans have favourites. I have loads of favourites, but what about in family relationships?

My mom was my favourite because she was my only. With my birth parents divorcing (and my birth father later dying) when I was just beyond 2, it was me, my mom and my little brother for many years. By the time my mom met and married my dad 1 I think I might have already started to enter that long stretch of teenagedom that, for me, meant: “I don’t really like my parents very much even though I love them so much, so much” so playing favourites didn’t really enter into it. I disliked them both equally let’s say?

I think I was a favourite of my grandmother, who died over a decade ago. Her favouritism impacted other members of the family in ways that, as a child, I never could have imagined. Cousins felt slighted and not able to comprehend why she loved me/us more than she loved them. This of course was not the case, but instead a consequence of a causal relationship. For years my mom looked out of my grandmother. She was at her mom’s house almost every week, while her brothers and sisters (the parents of the hurt cousins) were, in accordance with modern family cliche, only around on holidays. Of course it appeared to everyone, even me, that my grandmother loved us more.

Of course she didn’t love us more. But she knew us. She felt comfortable around us. We knew the same jokes. She was a part of our life in a way that she wasn’t with her other grandchildren. Geography, old strife and need played a much bigger role in these family dynamics – not favouritism.

In reflecting on this I can help Kevin deal with why Aodhan seems to favour me over his father. To a casual observer and to Kevin himself, it appears that Aodhan has a favourite. 2 When his dad gets home from work, Aodhan tells him to go back to school. When Aodhan is broken-hearted, it is to my arms that he runs. When it is time to find sleep, it is me that he needs to get comfy and relaxed.

I can see that this has been difficult for Kevin, and for me as well; for years now I have been unable to put down the role of caregiver in those ‘end of the day moments’ when I really need five minutes for myself. But, really? It is all relative. Since birth, Aodhan was literally on me ALL. THE. TIME. It is hard to find a picture of me that doesn’t include Aodhan attached to me via carrier. People who see me roaming the streets on my own will ask me where my other ‘limb’ is and smile. Aodhan’s early breastfeeding behaviours and his reflux meant that he was wanting to nurse every 30 minutes. Attachment Parenting heightens the role of the primary caregiver and we decided early on that it would be me and not Kevin giving up a career 3 And, by having to focus on his career, this has also served to increase the time that he is away from Aodhan, and unable to build the bridges that need to exist before Aodhan will make the connections needed to ‘favour’ Kevin over me.

Aodhan does not love me more. He does not love his dad less. He just needed me more for a very long time and that has translated into knowing me more, which means he wants to be with me more.

The only creatures playing favourites in our house are the cats. Eliot is mine and Sylvia is Kevin’s. They decided this when they came to live with us and it has been a hard and fast rule ever since.

The fun secret: This summer saw Kevin being home for over two months straight. This has meant that Aodhan is much more comfortable sharing his love with both of us. I can only think of once in the last two months when Aodhan has specifically said “no, not you daddy, I need mama.”

Things are changing and he is spreading himself out more equally between the two of us, which has made Kevin so very happy and has made a huge difference in my ability to manage the expected stresses of parenting a 3 year old.

I can’t comment or really even think about what this feels like on the other side of a parent-child relationship. Having only one child has saved us from having or not having a favourite child; perhaps that doesn’t even happen. I never felt that my parents had a favourite; even with my dad, who is biologically the father of one of three,I never felt that he was more focused on our younger sister or privileged her experiences. Perhaps it would have been different if we were close in age, or maybe I just have an awesome dad?! Yah, I am going to go with that one!

What has your experience been? Have you been a favourite? Do you have a favourite?


Visit Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Taboo Carnival! Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 28 with all the carnival links.)

  • Playing Favourites — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school looks at how her intense parenting style has created what ‘looks’ like favourites but is more causal than reality.
  • Taking Longer to Fall in Love with My Second Baby — Dionna at Code Name: Mama fell helplessly, powerlessly in love with her first-born. Love with her second-born has not been as easy, but does that mean #1 is her favorite?
  • Yes, Parents Have A Favorite Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her thoughts on parents having a favorite child and how this may have long term effects on both the favored and unfavored child.
  • Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same? — At Authentic Parenting, Laura investigates whether or not we should provide exactly the same for our children financially.
  • My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at tries hard not to play favourites with her kids – but they make no secret of which parent they prefer.
  • What makes a favorite? — Jorje of Momma Jorjeponders what caused her grandparents and parents to choose favorites. She also considers possible causes for her own favoritism.
  • There Are No Favorites (I Hate You All The Same) — Amy at Anktangle guest hosts about it being easy to see how a cycle of conditional love can make a mother keep her children at arms reach.
  • Mommy Dearest or Darling Daddy? — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro guest hosts about every parent having faults. Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders why she would prefer one parent over the other and whether this applies to every situation or can it vary?
  • On having two kids & not playing fair — Lauren at Hobo Mama learned from her mother that you don’t raise children based on what’s fair but on what’s right for each child.
  • More Than the Kid Sister — Amy of Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work always felt that she lived in the shadow of her older brother’s accomplishments, until her parents made her aware that her personality and passion have always brought them joy and pride.
  • The Ugly Side of Favoritism — Shannon of Pineapples and Artichokes shares a guest postwith a warning: Don’t favor one child over the other.


  1. I don’t bother with the word step-dad, this guy is my dad and has been the only man to ever be my dad. end of story
  2. less and less more so
  3. Because he is older, Kevin has more earning potential in the work that we both do, so it made financial sense for him to stay employed.

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