I think it's safe to say that many parents tend to favour one child over another. Whether they know it or not. But to an outsider, or worse, the child itself, it's probably pretty obvious. We often see this phenomena portrayed so accurately in television shows like Modern Family. As a grow-up yourself, you may have remembered a time when one of your parents paid much more attention to your sibling than to you. You also probably remember how bad it made it you feel. So now that you're a parent, you may want to do eveything in your power to stop playing favourites. To start loving both your children unconditionally. To love all your children unconditionally for all your strengths and flaws. But in order to do that you must first understand what parental favouritism is. What is Parental Favouritism Parental favouritism is exactly what the term suggests. It is when one or both parents are more affectionate, attentive, lenient, and compliant to one child than they are to another. This is especially true if one of them is "golden child" and the other is the "black sheep". You probably don't need much exposition on which child gets special treatment. But as common as it is, there's a reason why many psychologist discourage it. When not addressed, parental favouritism can exacerbate sibling rivalry, promote misbehavior and rebelliousness and even cause depression and anxiety in children and teens. Teens who grew up not having the love of one or both parents can spend their entire adult lives overcompensating for their flaws and having mommy and\/or daddy issues. But what's hard about parental favouritism is that sometimes not many parents want to admit that they're guilty of doing it. Or that they are even aware they are doing it. More often than not, parental favouritism is a subconscious thing that can be influenced by many things. But one of the common ones is when a new child is introduced into the family. Parents may tend to shower the baby with more attention. This may be the slippery slope that leads to some parents favouring the younger child more than their previous one(s). But by and large, it seems that middle children tend to suffer the most when parents start to play favourites. If you're ready to admit that you may be a bit biased in your parenting, here's how to remedy the situation. How to Stop Playing Favourites as a Parent Reach Out This seems like obvious advice, but one that not many parents know how to execute. If you think that one or more of your kids may not be getting much attention from you, be the first to reach out. Sometimes kids are so used to having a less present parent that they sort of get used to it. Some may even end up leading entirely independent lives in the house. Taking care of their own schedule, responsibilities and yes even expenses, on their own. It's good for kids to be independent, but depending on how young they are, they shouldn't have to be. One good way to mend bridges and strengthen ties is to ask for their help with things. This gives you plenty of opportunity to start a conversation. Ask them how they are, what they enjoy doing these days and if there's anything they need help with. Practice Fair Parenting One common element of parental favouritism is biased parenting. This means being too lenient or compliant to one child than the other(s). This can translate to screen time, time outs, chores and even things like clothes, books and non-essentials. If one of your kids verbally complain about you letting one child get away with things more than them, then it's time to face the music. You're playing favourites. Most parents will attempt to make excuses, like the other child getting a good report card. Or that they were well-behaved throughout the week. But if this is something that happens a lot, where one child excels better in their school or personal life than the other, then it may be the result of other underlying issues. And you may actually need to give them more attention to address it. Maintain Awareness You may have been a biased parent in the past, but going forward, be more mindful of how much attention you give each child. While it's true that some children need less parental love than others, it still doesn't let you off the hook. Kids still need to know that they're loved and cared for. In the same respect, be aware of how you individually discipline your kids as well. If one of them misbehaves, make sure to give them the same amount of time out (or other punitive measures). The same goes for gifts, allowance, and privileges like screen time. When celebrating birthdays, be sure to have the same kind of celebration for each child. If you throw a party for one child, then be sure to do the same for the others. Even if you're on a budget, consider giving old clothes to charity instead of repurposing them as hand-me-downs. Practicing Unconditional Love As much as we'd like to believe that all parents love their kids equally, it may not always be the case. In which case conditional love needs to be an active effort, instead of a natural predisposition. After all, your kids didn't ask to be in this world. So as parents you need to give them a good life full of love, fairness and acceptance. No matter what their interests are or what kind of individual they decide to be. Sometimes it's completely understandable why a parent may favour one child over the other. They may be smarter, better behaved and more fun to be around. You may even see a little bit of yourself in your favourite child. So it's easier to love a child that's easy to love. But parenting isn't supposed to be easy. And for some, the hardest part about parenting is loving all your children equally. And having the unconditional love of their parents is something that all children deserve, regardless of their flaws and shortcomings. Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!