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Jan
14

How to be the Favorite

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I was the favorite once.  Then I wasn’t. Then I was!  But then . . .

There is some, of what I will affectionately call ‘loose,’ science on birth order and affinity toward a certain parent.  In general, firstborn kids are more ‘like’ (have personality affinity toward) the Mom.  Second-born share a preponderance of personality traits with Dad.  Generally they even resemble (have more physical characteristics in common) these respective parents; first-born will get a lot of, “you look just like your mother,” etc.

Subsequent kids are a crap-shoot on looks and personality.

But this is all lumped into “loose” science.  Which means that it happens a lot, but, there is not a lot of empirical data to birth order ‘psychology.’

Here’s a fact though that you can count on: kids go through stages of closeness and affinity with either parent as they grow up.

I was the ‘cat’s meow’ for a while

My wife stepped in as ‘the bomb’ at some point.

Then I was the ‘wizard’

My wife took over as the ‘awesome-blossom’ . . . 

Many times I had flexibility to be home with the kids when they were little.  We did some fun things, and I was also ‘the disciplinarian.’  So you’d think that I’d be at the top of their favorites.  But, the truth is – don’t get offended until you read further – kids were created to have both parents.  So my boys missed their ‘mom time’ and were super-excited to have interaction with her when she was home.

If you’re a single parent though, this concept on how to be their favorite is especially important.   It’s not loose science that kids need parents.  In fact, kids will subconsciously seek out what they ‘need’ from parenting.  I’ll explain:

Society is built around children growing up to be successful members of the populace, so there are objectives that kids need to learn.  If they aren’t getting a skill, then they have to find it someplace.  So kids will gravitate subconsciously toward ‘parents’ modeling or offering the skills they need.

Example:  You might be a total introvert with no viable social skills (commenting on the Do the Dad Thing Blog might be the pinnacle of your social interaction).  But kids need to learn how to interact socially, so they might parrot the used car salesman they see on TV, or mimic the next door neighbor talking with their hand motions to the mailperson, etc.

So don’t worry if your kids have a favorite outside of you, or model someone else they see, or idolize an attribute in someone that is not exactly idol-worthy.  They are following the natural desire to grab the skills they need from the surrounding world.  This becomes more and more pronounced as your kids grow up and our accumulated set of skills gets more and more limited for their growth.  I.e.  I used to be the favorite to help my boys with math, but as they entered high school, suddenly my skills were sorely lacking. . .

–Warning– most sexual abuse is committed by family members or extended family; especially, for some reason, by uncles and aunts. So make sure there is adequate supervision and safety protocols for kids spending time with other adults.

The good news is, no matter the outside influence and modeled skills, your children always have the desire and need to find their ‘home’ favorite in a parent (yes, even if you are secondary care giver adoptive parent or foster parent).  The concept of ‘home’ and ‘family’ is core to people, and  children will always treasure the link they have with you as their safe place for understanding and acceptance.

So, with all this being true, how can you be their favorite?  . . . By not obsessing about being their favorite.  You will have your time as their favorite.  It’s healthy though if you aren’t always their favorite.  But you ARE always their favorite . . .because you are their parent.

I know, it sounds confusing.

Some of you might remember reading my summer series a man after God’s own heart http://cwahm.com/2015/articles/gods-own-heart-summer-series-part-i/   (it was awesome).  I used King David as an example throughout the series.

If you read through some of the exploits of other kings of the Israel nation however; some kings were . . . not so good.  And the problem resulted from little kinglets being taken away from Mom and Dad and raised by a royal steward or advisor that didn’t have ‘parenting’ at their core competency. Many boys in line for royalty were taught how to be fierce leaders and diplomats, but didn’t get a chance to sit with their mom or dad and play checkers.  Did they even have checkers in Biblical times?  The point is, parents, parenting, and yes, DADS! – are created by God to be important to the development of your kids.  So don’t worry; you’re their favorite even if it doesn’t seem like it all the time.

One last bit of wisdom on this topic.  If you do find yourself as the clear favorite, it’s best not to let it go to your head.  Kids have a way of making you wish you weren’t their favorite.  When I was the go-to favorite for helping them to learn how to tie shoes, I introduced them to the concept of ‘barefoot.’  I was happy to trade the ‘favorite’ title back to my wife.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brad Washburn is a husband, father, counselor, and pastor.

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