A survey reported in today's news says that 1 in 12 parents admits to having a child they love more than the rest. Eight percent of parents say they know they show favouritism to one child above others. This would be inconceivable to me, speaking as a mother of two children I completely love equally, if it wasn't for my experience as a daughter.
My mother, always frank, has become increasingly disinhibited as she has got older. She is now almost 80. Just five feet tall with the brightest blue eyes and snowy white curly hair, with her flat, round toed Sarah Jane red shoes and cuddly cardies she looks like a central casting Granny. But the breath-taking candour of her outspoken observations isn't softened at all by their delivery in her soft Southern Irish accent.
My sister and I have had our appearances, marriages, parenting skills and all life-style choices used as material for inimitable maternal barbs.
But yesterday's announcement was classic when she announced to me in the middle of a busy cafe that she preferred my sister to me. My sister who was with us, winced along with the neighbouring coffee drinkers. We'd both learned long ago not to take offence at Mum's statements and my sister has individually had just as devastating prounouncements directed at her, but for the sake of all listening closely now to our table's conversation I said lightly, "Oh Mum - you don't have to tell me that."
"I do," she insisted. "I do have to tell you. Because its true. Its always been true."
Telling a friend about this exchange I was surprised to hear her story of contrary. Although nothing is ever said, she feels her mother's constant disapproval of her compared to the praise and favouritism extended to her older brothers. She feels their relationship has been eroded to a mere sham over the years by the hypocrisy. "After all, she said, "Its not that your mother doesn't love you at all, she didn't say that and at least you know that if that was the case she'd tell you."
Mmm, not sure about her logic. Which is it best to be? Better out than in? Or least said, soonest mended? Leave a comment or email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any thoughts.