There's this long list of things parents aren't supposed to say that's not written down, but follows us around nonetheless. Essentially anything that gives less than a glowing review of the joy of parenting, or hints at human emotions like regret, frustration, anger, or even favoritism. Yes, that's right, parents are just super not allowed to have a favorite kid. No matter what, apparently. So when this mom of four admitted she has a favorite kid, as Us Weekly reported, people kind of lost their minds. Because of all the things you're not supposed to say, that's probably at the top of the list.
Alisha Tierney-March was recently a guest on the British talk show This Morning on ITV, having a frank, open conversation about whether or not parents should ever admit to having a favorite child. Tierny-March is mother to 9-year-old Addison, 7-year-old Harleigh, 2-year-old Kennedie, and 1-year-old Elijah. So let's just preface this by saying Tierey-March is an incredibly busy woman right about now, but that didn't stop her from joining the show to discuss which one of her children is her favorite. Because yes, she actually does have a favorite and she's not afraid to admit it. Apparently it is her 2-year-old daughter Kennedie, as she told This Morning.
One of the co-hosts of the show, Phillip Schofield, asked Tierney-March how that happened, and she clearly had given the matter some thought. She noted that the two older children are quite close to each other, and she doesn't really get that "one-on-one" time with them like she does with Kennedie. Tierney-March told the hosts of This Morning:
When Kennedie came along, the older two were in school so I got those whole six hours together. I breast-fed her, which I hadn't been able to do with the older two.
She went on to explain that it's about more than one-on-one time:
Kennedie is just all around nicer to be around. I’ve just got a different bond with Kennedie. I have got such a strong bond with her. I’m not sure if it’s down to breast-feeding.
And if you're wondering if the other children know that Kennedie is their mother's favorite? Yes, they do. When This Morning co-host Holly Willoughby pressed Tierney-March about whether or not the older children knew they were not her favorite, she answered:
They will say "She's your favorite," and then I will admit to them, I'll say, "Yes, I do like her better."
Twitter was not at all impressed. People expressed concern for the other children, who might feel resentful and insecure as they get older.
As for her youngest child? While she loves her baby son Elijah, she says Kennedie still has top spot in her heart. Especially because she reports that her baby is "a lot of hard work." Although perhaps this won't last forever, because before Kennedie came along, Tierney-March told This Morning that her daughter Harleigh had been her favorite. Why? Because Harleigh was apparently more like her than the oldest daughter, Addison.
So is this common among parents? A 2005 study found that many parents do exhibit preferential treatment towards one child; a full 74 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers, in fact. Which makes sense, because different children have different personalities, of course. But this study also found that much of the preferential treatment was perceived by the children rather than explicitly acknowledged by the parents.
While I'm not a big fan of jumping on the bandwagon here, I don't think announcing you have a favorite child to your other children is the best idea that's ever been conceived. Especially because, as Tierney-March has shown, that favorite can shift over time.
As a mom of four sons, I can tell you that I feel closer to each of them at different times. That I bond differently with each, but with one just as deeply as the other. Every day as a parent is different, so it's probably not the wisest course of action to make a snap judgment about a favorite child when she's only 2; especially when the ramifications of that judgment could last a lifetime.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.