Both of these situations are the result of a parent not acknowledging and healing their own pain from their childhood. The mother, who swore her daughters would never feel like she was treating either one of them preferentially, made this commitment as a result of her own pain, knowing what it felt like to experience the feeling of being "unfavored". A part of her that wouldn't allow for her to forget that story was holding emotions and burdens related to her experience that were affecting how she was parenting her children.
By getting to know the part of her that believed she was unlovable and unworthy because of the role she played in her family, this mom was able to unburden the emotions and beliefs that she had been carrying since she was five years old. As a result, she was able to see both of her daughters as individuals and acknowledge the strengths, gifts and challenges that each of them came with.
Rather than working so hard to treat them equally, she was able to point out the different strengths that they each had and how she loved the different qualities they each posessed. This helped her daughters reduce their need to compete with one another for her love. She was able to recognize that because they were different, they had different needs and interests and that she would treat them based on their individuality.
For parents who have a blind spot and are replaying their own family dynamic of favoritism, it also requires self reflection and the ability to look at their own wounds in regards to the role they played in their family. Getting to know what protective parts took over and helped them not feel loved or important in their family, hearing the story that this protective part holds along with the emotions and beliefs it took on, will allow the part to be transformed.
The part that is currently protecting the parent from the pain of their childhood is often connected to the part that creates the denial of how they are repeating the pattern with their own children. Finding Your Child The Right Education
It's easy to externalize our own problem(s) onto our child/ren, but the truth is, parenting starts from the inside out. Having children provides endless opportunities for us to relive our own childhood joys and pains. Avoiding the pains that are still being carried will result in recreating the very same dynamic with our own children.
The beauty of it is that our children can reflect the parts of us that are still hurting, if we are open to seeing it. By recognizing and working with our own hurting parts, we have the ability to heal and end the passage of unhealthy family legacies.
Almost anyone can also name the humorous and endearing statements our parents made such as, "if you cross your eyes like that they will get stuck!" or "when I was your age... (fill in the blank)". While sometimes I cringe when I hear certain things come out of my mouth that sound like my mother, knowing I've just hit another protective part that needs my attention, I also hear her delightful and funny sayings roll off of my tongue and I find them endearing and have to laugh. I think of it as a little piece of my mom that I'll always carry with me.
See Leslie's parenting website OMG! I Sound Just Like My Mother.