Here’s What It Feels Like When Your Parents Play Favorites

I love my parents. In fact, I spent all my life searching for my parents’ approval and love, but I never received it. Instead, I experienced the pain of playing the role of the scapegoat in the family, getting blamed for trivial things such as my siblings’ mistakes and choices, despite trying to be a good daughter to them. 

Growing up, I had good grades, and I listened and obeyed my parents. And yet, I never got that love or approval that I had always sought to find from them. One of the most painful experiences I have ever felt was being told who their favorite child was. Having to live with that kind of rejection from your parents hurts a lot, and unfortunately, it is the kind of rejection I will have to live with permanently.

They say a child is the most precious gift a parent could ever receive. Therefore, children should be made to feel that they are special. Instead, some of us are given parents who make us feel less loved. Sometimes, we are given parents who make us feel like we have to compete for their love. Sometimes, we are given parents who, unfortunately, play favoritism.

Favoritism is showing your likeness or affinity towards one child more than the other. This behavior from parents can sometimes be unintentional, while some parents are a lot more blatant about it than others.  

Some of the things that go through a child’s mind (based on experience) when their parents are blatant about playing favoritism can prove to be detrimental.

Feeling like Second Best

When parents give greater attention towards one child’s achievements over other, the child is made to feel like they are second best, which in my opinion is unhealthy because it can lead to low self-esteem. Living in someone else’s shadow is devastating.

Feelings of Neglect

Being neglected is another emotion one experiences when their parents play favoritism. Neglect, whether physical or emotional, feels very similar to abuse and parents need to be more cognizant of it.

Feeling like The “Black Sheep”

The “black sheep” of the family is always wrong. Parents compare their children’s personal or academic achievements that lead to sibling rivalry. The thing to remember is that each child is different. No two people are the exact same and neither are our accomplishments, personal or academic. We won’t always follow the same path or make the right choices. As for our parents, we hope for guidance during those times, not abandonment and a label of failure.


Resentment is a negative feeling which occurs for different motives. As a result, it can destroy families and be a mental trigger in children. If a child comes to feel resentment towards themselves or their parent, that relationship will suffer greatly. The parent and child relationship will never be perfect. It requires constant attention and growth, almost like tending to a garden.

I spent many years questioning: Why wasn’t I enough for my parents? Why did they choose to neglect, shame and ignore me?

I guess I will never know the answer to these questions. It’s true I was the least favored, but, I thank God every day because it only made me a strong and a better person. 

Featured image via Unsplash.


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