The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Parents Playing Favorites


For all you parents out there trying to make sure you halve the chocolate bar right in the middle:

Perceived favoritism on the part of a mother can cause long-term psychological effects on all her children well into adulthood, according to new research. Gerontologist Karl Pillemer from Cornell University looked at 275 mothers and their 671 adult children and found that in families with a perceived sense of favoritism, children were more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms as adults. Interesting, this applied to both the favored children and non-favored children. The study found that it’s not the type of treatment each child receives that matters so much as being raised in an environment where a sense of unequal treatment is present.

In other words, the Cornell study says that it doesn’t matter if the kid is the black sheep or the shining star — the negative effects of perceived favoritism last for many years after the children are out of the family home.

With a study as optimistic as that, you might as well go ahead and buy two chocolate bars.


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