You’re My Favorite

By Nick Anis

 

One of the challenging aspects of parenting is NOT playing favorites with your children.  I remember when I was growing up how sad I felt that my father and mother favored my brother.  Mom and Dad bought him a bicycle, I had to buy my own.  They bought him a car, I had save up and get one myself.  They paid for him to go to college; I had to pay my own way through school.  But they again, I graduated and my brother didn’t – so I suppose I turned out to be the lucky one in that respect.

Actually, it wasn’t the “material” things that bothered me.  I was quite an entrepreneur as a teenager, and I always seemed to manage to make whatever money I needed to get any material things I wanted.  What bothered me the most was how they would heap praise on my sibling while omitting me or even putting me down.  They only time they seemed to think of me was for something negative or after they had finished thinking about and praising my brother.

You might be thinking this made me jealous of my brother, but actually it just caused me to grow up a little faster and concentrate more on school and work.  My brother and I were and still are, on good terms.  Besides the favoritism problem, my dad’s excessive corporal punishment also helped to keep me at school and work and out of my dad’s way as much as possible.

As it turns out, I’m also on good terms with my Dad.  My only problem these days is being careful NOT to repeat the same process that was so painful for me while I was growing up, while raising my own children.

When I look at my two sons, I see myself.  They look like me, and remind me of myself at their age.  I certainly don’t want them to experience and feel as I did when I was their age.  When I praise Joey (age 13) for something I make a point to also praise David (age 11).  I have a running joke with the boys, Joey is my favorite “oldest” son and David is my favorite “youngest” son.

Looking back 30 plus years ago it seems like it was only yesterday.  Rather than brood about my past, I think about the present and frequently ask myself am I being a good parent and are my sons happy?

I think having their mother and I working at home as they grow up has helped them to feel loved and secure.  At times this involved quite a bit of quid-pro-quo and we ended up having to do quite a few things in pairs.  In fact, we make it a point to periodically declare it “David Day” or “Joey Day” and for that day Joey and David get some VIP treatment as if it was their birthday or something.  In this way they can always be reminded each of them is very special to us.  It seems the only conflict in their life is a touch of sibling rivalry, which Patty and I try and keep out of unless it elevates to physical contact.

Patty and I have told our sons time and time again we will not play favorites, but I can tell from their questions and expressions each one likes to think of themselves as our “favorite.”  I honestly believe that if you strapped me up to a lie detector I would pass the exam with flying colors while telling the examiner that I love both Joey and David with the same enthusiasm and intensity and, that they are BOTH my FAVORITES.

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