The Youngest Sibling Tends to be Mom and Dad’s Favorite—Here’s Why

The baby of the family is mom and dad’s favorite.

December 11, 2017
By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: iStock

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When it comes to playing favorites, every mother will tell you that she loves her children equally. However, she may be fibbing because researchers are now saying that your mom and dad actually favor the baby of the family. While the youngest sibling is usually the funniest kid, mom and dad favor the youngest for a reason that might surprise you.

According to a new study conducted by Brigham Young University's School of Family Life, the youngest sibling of the family tends to be mom and dad's favorite child because of perception. If the younger sibling feels like they're the favorite child, their bond with their parents is strengthened and the entire family begins to perceive the youngest siblings as the favorite. So because they are perceived to be the favorite--they actually become the favorite by default.

For the study, researchers examined 300 families, each with two teenagers. The teens were asked to describe their relationship with their parents. Younger sibling who said they are their parents' favorite notes a closer bond with their parents-- if their parents agreed. But if their parents disagreed, their relationship suffered. However, if the older sibling felt they were the favorite, it actually had no effect on their bond with their parents.

So basically younger children are more likely to perceive their parents prefer them, and then everyone around them believes it is true. That's how the baby becomes the favorite.

"It's not that first-borns don't ever think about their siblings and themselves in reference to them," says BYU School of Family Life assistant professor Alex Jensen. "It's just not as active of a part of their daily life.

If your family has more than two kids, don't worry, middle child, we've got a few answers for you, too. "If you had to ask me, 'Do we see the same thing with the second born and third born?' I think probably so," says Jensen. "The youngest kid looks up to everybody, the next youngest kid looks up to everyone older than them, and it just kind of goes up the line."

While we can't do much about who is the favorite from our childhood, we can look at the way we parent our own children. "When parents are more loving and they're more supportive and consistent with all of the kids, the favoritism tends to not matter as much," Jensen says.

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