Study Confirms Your Parents Absolutely Do Have A Favorite Child

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Your Parents Have A Favorite Child Based On Birth Order

Your little sister, the baby of the family, has always gotten away with everything. If you brought home a D on your report card, you were punished, but she only got a stern "Please do better next time."

Then there's your older sister with her athletic trophies. Your parents certainly loved bragging about her! And don't forget your brother, the scholastically gifted middle child. Did your parents have to frame every single one of his awards?

There's so much competition for your parent's attention, it stands to reason that your parents must have a favorite child. Unfortunately, you'll probably never know, as your parents continually insist that they love all of their children the same.

But as much as parents want people (especially their children) to think that they don't pick favorites, science says something entirely different. In other words, parents totally have favorites.

A recently resurfaced study by Katherine Conger found that 74 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers reported preferential treatment toward one child. Conger and her research team surveyed 384 sibling pairs (each within four years of their sibling) and asked them how they felt their parents treated them, if they sensed some sort of differential treatment, and if they felt a positive or negative reactions from the perceived difference.

The research team then interviewed the siblings' parents for their perspective. Although the parents didn't say which child they preferred, Conger and her team theorized which sibling felt the discrepancy the most.

"Our working hypothesis was that the older, earlier-born child would be more affected by perceptions of differential treatment due to their status as older child — more power due to age and size, more time with parents — in the family," Conger told Quartz.

However, it turned out that their hypothesis was completely wrong! Firstborns reported feeling they were the preferred child because for a glorious time they were (technically) only children. Once their siblings started to come along, their status as oldest child made them the first in the family to kill at sports, lead the way academically, and generally challenge their parent's parenting skills.

Eldest children paved the way, and when the younger kids got to the age of their older siblings, their parents had a better idea of how to handle certain situations and tended to get a little tougher. So the younger siblings believed that they could sense the firstborn bias and that it affected their self-esteem.

The research also found that the birth order didn't matter, as each child was suspicious of their parents liking their siblings more.

"Everyone feels their brother or sister is getting a better deal," Conger said.

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You'll probably never know for sure which child in your family is your parents' favorite, so you might as well go on believing it's you.