Parents of two children treat their youngest as the favourite, according to new research. The study of 1,803 parents shows that 59% of the time, parents will subconsciously choose the youngest child over the eldest.
In particular, mums and dads are more likely to side with a younger child in an argument, lavish them with more attention, let them have their own way and spend longer reading with them.
Younger children also benefit from more treats and cuddles, and their parents find it hard refusing them anything they want. Fifty three per cent of parents polled openly admitted to feeling closer to their littlest child.
Lisa Penney, spokesmum for Bounty, which commissioned the research, said, “Few parents are willing to admit they have a favourite child, and even though research indicates this is the case, we certainly aren’t suggesting parents love one child more than another. But the fact remains that in the majority of scenarios, parents favour their younger children.
“This might be because they are the baby of the family, because they are more demanding, or because they find that children simply need less and less attention as they get older.”
But although eldest children are often side-lined in preference to their younger sibling, more than half of parents polled claimed to have bonded more quickly with their first child. And 64% of parents feel they have more in common with their eldest child, sharing interests and finding it easier to have a conversation.
Indeed, three in five parents say their elder child is more likely to confide in them, and have done since an early age. Older children are also more transparent, with 63% of parents feeling confident they know them inside out.
Being the eldest also tends to mean these children are better behaved – with 53% of parents finding them easier to discipline. And being second favourite isn’t all bad – as older children tend to have more money spent on them, they’re allowed to rule the roost, they have bigger helpings at dinner and usually decide what the family watches on television.
Lisa Penney continues, “The research shows that there are definitely benefits to being either the youngest or oldest in the family. Whilst two in three parents agreed that their youngest was more likely to get away with murder, 60% found themselves talking about and boasting to friends about their eldest child and their achievements.
“Wherever a child comes in birth order in a family, the most important thing is that they’re loved, cared-for and treated as an individual who may have different needs to their brother or sister.”
Of the 1,803 people questioned, only one in five parents were prepared to admit they DID have a favourite child – of these, 54 per cent chose their youngest child. And when asked about their partner’s preference, 56 per cent of parents felt their partner also preferred the youngest. But one in three people say that every parent has a favourite child, but hates to admit it.
A resounding 76 per cent claim it is possible to have a favourite child simply because you get on with them better, not because you love them any differently or any more.