Why Parents Should Have Favorites

I was recently in a restaurant with all our kids and one of my kids needed some help so I helped her and gave her a hug then looked her in the eye and told her that she was my favorite. When other people overhear me tell my kids they are my favorite the reaction I always get is priceless. Most people are either shocked or offended because they counted how many kids we have when we walk in the room. If you have more than two kids you know what I’m talking about when you walk into a restaurant and people either pause or mouth the number of kids you have….apparently four kids is the new twelve. People who are shocked that I would have favorites and worse yet have the gall to say that I did out loud. Favorites

What most people don’t know is I tell all my kids they are my favorite. I tell them each they are my favorite and it never really occurred to me that this is counter-cultural it’s just something I’ve always done. I tell them each they are my favorite then I tell them not to tell anyone. It’s our little fun way of saying I love you more than anyone in the whole world.

The reason this is odd to most people is because the conventional wisdom says have no favorites love everyone the same. Reality tells us something quite different it says, each kid is unique love them uniquely. When as a parent you tell your kids that you love them and they are your favorite you are speaking life over them and pouring love into them. When we tell our kids they are our favorite what we are telling them is they are uniquely special in some particular way.

The reason that most Christian parents don’t believe in favorites is because they believe that God loves the whole world in the generic sense. They don’t understand that they are loved in a very specific sense. When we read in the Bible that God so loved the world what we understand when we are Christians is that we are not just creatures in general that God is fond of. We see that by his grace are brought into adoption we become adopted sons that he loves us we become his favorites in our own unique way. One of the things that is so unique about Christianity is  we believe in a personal God. We don’t believe in a god who is far but a God who came close. Who loves humanity in general but you in particular. We have favorites because God does. We don’t like that because we think it’s somehow unfair, but that is because we don’t understand God fully. We don’t understand how he can love us all and yet each of us are his favorite without him being partial to anyone. The closest we come is in parenthood I remember when I had my first child I could not love him more when my wife told me we were having a second child I worried that I would be unable to love a child the same as I loved my first. When my second son was born I realized then they were both my favorites. I realized how God loves me. His love isn’t divided by his children but rather is love is unending and has no beginning and no end. We don’t deplete his love. So go home tonight and tell your kids they are your favorite. They need to hear it you need to say it.

6 comments On Why Parents Should Have Favorites

  • I look at it a different way…

    I’ve seen what favoritism does to people – to families in particular. It is such a hurtful & divisive thing, that we strive to push it away from us, and all who will listen.

    We have 4 children, & 2 new children and we love each of them with everything we’ve got! We have told them from the time they could understand, they are each different, we love them all with everything we’ve got, & we love the uniqueness that each one has. They know without doubt that they are loved & closest to our hearts, as well as our main priority. We also tell them that we don’t have favorites – and it’s true.

    What favoritism does …

    1. It makes the person that it is given to feel like they are above everyone else. It fuels pride in them, that they have the favor that no one else has, that they are superior to others.

    2. The person giving the favoritism is fueled by the feeling it will give them. They share favoritism, and (probably without realizing it) feel good knowing that the person that is their favorite, will now feel a stronger connection with them than others.

    3. It makes onlookers feel like they can never achieve “love” they way that the “favorite” did, because they have already taken the top spot – and there’s only room for one at the top.

    I think about what it does even outside of our children’s lives … preachers for example. I hear people say… that one is my favorite preacher! I think, what hurt that must cause to their own pastor, and any other who hears it. Not to mention anyone who is new or called to preach. They immediately compare themselves to the “favorite”, and feel like they could never achieve, so why try.

    Because we deal with so much hurt & destruction that happens because of favoritism, we do our best to love each one as much as we possibly can, and to help others steer clear of it. The scriptures teach us to be careful about favoritism & partiality because of the damage it can do.

    I totally know your heart in your post… it’s for good & you’re doing it with love, because you love your children. I just wanted to share a different perspective. 🙂

    • Pearl thanks for your comment. I understand what you are saying but telling all your kids they are your favorite isn’t the same as showing favoritism. I am trying to make the case that trying to avoid making all your kids your favorite does more harm than good. When we say everyone is the same I feel it somehow diminishes our love. I think each of our kids should feel they are our favorite and that’s ok. The Angel of the Lord told Mary that she was “Highly Favored” does that mean he loves me less? I don’t think so. I think we have to hold God’s universal love and his particular love in tension. The same with our kids. We love them all but we also love them specifically. When we don’t let them know that we love them specifically I think they grow up looking to be loved specificly many times in the wrong places, with the wrong person at the wrong time. Does that help?

    • Saying you’re my favorite, is showing them favoritism.

      Each of our children are unique, have different personalities, giftings, talents… and we all celebrate each person’s uniqueness. They each shine in their own way & we love that about them. They each know that we love them more than words, & do everything we can to tell them & show them that.

      When you single a child out & say you’re my favorite above the other children, I feel it can have the opposite result that you’re looking for. We want each of our children to know that they are safe with our love, & that they can always trust us. If we have a secret with them that we love them best, it also tells them that we love the others less. This can leave them feeling insecure. In the future, if they “think” we are treating their brother or sister better than them, they will think they have fallen out of favor & leave room for insecurity of our love.

      I think we can tell & show our children we love them without adding the “favoritism” on top. They will know they can trust us, & that we mean what we say, because we will love & protect every one of our children – not one above the others.

      I’m not talking about “fair” or “sameness”, but loving each of our children, while celebrating all that is special about each one.

      • Ps. I normally wouldn’t post a comment, but I am so passionate about this subject, that I’ve even considered writing a book about it. Love you & your family and the way you’re loving them.

  • Funny, I do the exact same thing. Everyone feels special when they are a favorite and I tell each of my kids they are my favorite all the time!

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