To love one child more than another

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To love one child more than another

Post Number:#1  Postby Simplyhuman » March 1st, 2017, 10:45 am

The "participation trophy" aspect of today's society has severely numbed an integral part of the human psyche. No two humans are equal, be it mentally or physically. No two human relationships are equal to one another.

It is ok to admit to yourself that you love one child more than the other.

One child may respond to your love with gratitude, respect, kindness, and love. While another may take it for granted, being cold, narcissistic, and not show love in return. Over time, if these two examples remain constant, the relationships will evolve differently.

There are no predetermined borders, minimums, or maximums to the relationship between individuals based on who's sperm fertilized who's egg. The blood we share (or do not share) has no outcome on how a relationship will grow or crumble.

Accepting that we are all human, and therefore unique as well as imperfect, will only help you through this journey. The amount of false illusions of love and empty words that flow through the average American home is a bit dishonest and disheartening at best.

Some say this view is simply honest and realistic. Others say it just makes me a jerk. Thoughts?
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#2  Postby Ozymandias » March 4th, 2017, 1:56 am

Simplyhuman wrote:The "participation trophy" aspect of today's society has severely numbed an integral part of the human psyche. No two humans are equal, be it mentally or physically. No two human relationships are equal to one another.

It is ok to admit to yourself that you love one child more than the other.

One child may respond to your love with gratitude, respect, kindness, and love. While another may take it for granted, being cold, narcissistic, and not show love in return. Over time, if these two examples remain constant, the relationships will evolve differently.

There are no predetermined borders, minimums, or maximums to the relationship between individuals based on who's sperm fertilized who's egg. The blood we share (or do not share) has no outcome on how a relationship will grow or crumble.

Accepting that we are all human, and therefore unique as well as imperfect, will only help you through this journey. The amount of false illusions of love and empty words that flow through the average American home is a bit dishonest and disheartening at best.

Some say this view is simply honest and realistic. Others say it just makes me a jerk. Thoughts?

I won't call you "just a jerk", but I believe that your view of love is not conducive to a beneficial manner of raising children. From reading your post, you seem to be less of a romantic and more of a pragmatic, and I can respect that. There is nothing wrong with viewing life from a direct, logical worldview, and in that sense, loving one child over another is perfectly logical. It's biological, and instinctive. But instincts ≠ ethics. And it's not good for any child to be loved conditionally (I'll get back to this at the end).

Here's my view, informed by the romantic (see philosophical definition of "romantic") worldview:

How your child acts should not be the basis for how much you love them, you should love all your children equally. Not because they give you reasons to love them, but because you owe it to them. I don't always agree with Freud, but I'm gonna have to side with him in that every little thing that happens in our childhood affects us as adults, and a parent therefore must be perfectly vigilant in raising children. I could cite so many sources saying that growing up with unloving parents harms a person permanently, but I'm guessing no one would disagree. Where I presume we do disagree is why we should love our children, or, in other words, what children do that deserves our love as parents.

One child may respond to your love with gratitude, respect, kindness, and love. While another may take it for granted, being cold, narcissistic, and not show love in return. Over time, if these two examples remain constant, the relationships will evolve differently.


If one child accepts your love and the other denies it, it is because of something you did or said differently to the other child, or because of something society did or said to them, not because of their inherent nature. Does that make them unworthy of love? If they are being cold, they may not deserve love (though I would certainly contend that everyone deserves love, always. But that's another topic), but they definitely need it. Badly. That is the way childrens' brains work, or, rather, all humans' brains work: when it comes to love and hate, we reflect what is shown to us. Show a child love and he will show it back. Show a child hate and he will show it back. It's not totally that simple, but that is the basic premise.

You may argue that you don't have control over how the relationship with your child "evolves". And I can't disagree with that, because, sadly, many people really don't have control over their relationships. But that's something you can change by actively learning more about relationship psychology (if interested, check out the Youtube channel "The School of Life"), and therefore I would contend that it's immoral to allow your relationships to be controlled by external factors, rather than making a conscious effort to make them better.

There are no predetermined borders, minimums, or maximums to the relationship between individuals based on who's sperm fertilized who's egg. The blood we share (or do not share) has no outcome on how a relationship will grow or crumble.


In juxtaposition to my previous statement, I will admit that occasionally, the way relationships grow and crumble is just something that is out of our hands. However, I would argue that the act of bringing a person into the world gives you the responsibility to make their growth as a person a very important goal. Feel free to argue with me on that point.

I suppose my question to you, in response, is "what makes someone worthy of love?", or, poised more accurately to your original idea, "what makes someone more worthy of love than the person next to them?"
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#3  Postby LuckyR » March 5th, 2017, 1:59 pm

While I don't disagree with Ozy's reply I feel it is incomplete, in the sense that there are different types of love. Parent/child unequivocal love (independent of the details of the relationship) is absolute. However the OP is correct that the true difference between individual parent/child relationships do lead to different levels of the type of love that stems from the type and quality of the relationship.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#4  Postby Ozymandias » March 5th, 2017, 2:21 pm

LuckyR wrote:While I don't disagree with Ozy's reply I feel it is incomplete, in the sense that there are different types of love. Parent/child unequivocal love (independent of the details of the relationship) is absolute. However the OP is correct that the true difference between individual parent/child relationships do lead to different levels of the type of love that stems from the type and quality of the relationship.

True. My point is that if one is being ethical, one makes a constant effort to overcome the latter type of love, if it is potentially harmful to the mental/ emotional growth of the child. If I have a child who I find hard to love1 (by type and quality of relationship), I will seek to improve that relationship because I love2 (unequivocally) the child.

In other words, love1 is a matter of unconscious brain activity and external factors, while love2 is a matter of conscious brain activity and choice. Therefore, to be ethical, one must regard love1 over love2.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#5  Postby Simplyhuman » March 5th, 2017, 3:51 pm

Ozymandias wrote:True. My point is that if one is being ethical, one makes a constant effort to overcome the latter type of love, if it is potentially harmful to the mental/ emotional growth of the child. If I have a child who I find hard to love1 (by type and quality of relationship), I will seek to improve that relationship because I love2 (unequivocally) the child.


Agreed. The love SHOWN must be equal to avoid disaster for the child. However, the love FELT, within the mind and heart of the parent, cannot be truly equal for any two relationships.

To clarify, I'm not advocating that a parent exile one or more children due to their own interpretation of the relationship. The child that is "harder to love" will more than likely be shown even more love in order to repair that relationship (at least I hope so for the child's sake).

I was more speaking about the parent being open to identifying this within themselves. Once that realization happens, it's more constructive for relationship repair.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#6  Postby Alias » March 6th, 2017, 4:29 pm

Children who must compete for their parents' love will surely grow up with a twisted notion of how to behave in society.
They might end up like one of the biblical object lessons in fraternal jealousy.

In any case, you can't decide to love the grateful more, or the pretty one less - or anything else about love. It just happens. If you're lucky, the love is nearly equal, or, as has been suggested of different flavours or types, but not unequal. Maybe the parents can each compensate for what the other can't give their offspring; grandparents can supply more warmth and affection if a parent takes the pragmatic approach.

But it's crucial to be fair. To show no favour toward one or shut the other out.

Better yet, people who can't love whatever child they get should either refrain from reproduction, or give their baby to someone who can.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#7  Postby Ozymandias » March 8th, 2017, 2:32 am

Of course, to both of you. It is always important to acknowledge and recognize one's emotions- even if they are bad emotions, such as hate, apathy, or simple lack of love for one's child. I do agree with you, Simplyhuman, that it's important to identify said feelings within yourself. And, of course, continuing along that path should lead one to the ethically informed decision to deal appropriately with those bad emotions, and not let them control one's actions.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#8  Postby Greta » March 8th, 2017, 3:28 am

Simplyhuman wrote:Agreed. The love SHOWN must be equal to avoid disaster for the child. However, the love FELT, within the mind and heart of the parent, cannot be truly equal for any two relationships.

Yes.

I can report that, at least in my family, our parents' intrinsic leanings and affections were no problem. This was because they each made a sincere and scrupulous effort to be as even-handed as possible with us all times. In hindsight they did have clear favourites, and I think that deep down everyone knew it even though it would have been grievously "politically incorrect" for anyone in the family to suggest it. Their determination to look after us properly and treat us fairly was all a progeny could reasonably ask. We cannot change personal chemistry, but that chemistry need not interfere with our ethical beliefs.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#9  Postby Steve3007 » March 8th, 2017, 3:36 am

I don't think love is something that can be quantified so I don't fret too much about whether I love one more than the other. I know that my younger child is closer to me in terms of personality and interests, so we tend to get on better. But that has nothing to do with love. I don't know what it might be like to actively dislike one of your own children - to think that they are not a good person. That would be distressing and I've no idea whether it would stop you loving them. Do the parent's of murderers, or worse, stop loving their child? If so, it seems to me that it would be indistinguishable from stopping loving oneself.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#10  Postby Alias » March 8th, 2017, 10:14 am

Steve3007 wrote: I don't know what it might be like to actively dislike one of your own children - to think that they are not a good person. That would be distressing and I've no idea whether it would stop you loving them.

It is distressing. Very. And sad and frustrating and guilt-inducing and it keeps you up nights, chewing your tail off over what you've done wrong, what you might have done differently to help that child become a better person. You try, over and over, for years, to bridge the gaps, to find some common ground. You make overtures and invite the child to talk about "it", but you don't speak the same language. Eventually, after a dozen rebuffs, insults and disappointments, one final event forces you to admit that your affection can never be reciprocated, you do stop loving them. After five or six years, you hardly even talk about them anymore - like dead people. It is very much like having someone die.

-- Updated March 8th, 2017, 9:17 am to add the following --

Of course, this all happened after she was grown up and married to a conservative jerk, so no great loss.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#11  Postby Supine » March 8th, 2017, 6:54 pm

Simplyhuman wrote:The "participation trophy" aspect of today's society has severely numbed an integral part of the human psyche. No two humans are equal, be it mentally or physically. No two human relationships are equal to one another.

It is ok to admit to yourself that you love one child more than the other.

One child may respond to your love with gratitude, respect, kindness, and love. While another may take it for granted, being cold, narcissistic, and not show love in return. Over time, if these two examples remain constant, the relationships will evolve differently.

There are no predetermined borders, minimums, or maximums to the relationship between individuals based on who's sperm fertilized who's egg. The blood we share (or do not share) has no outcome on how a relationship will grow or crumble.

Accepting that we are all human, and therefore unique as well as imperfect, will only help you through this journey. The amount of false illusions of love and empty words that flow through the average American home is a bit dishonest and disheartening at best.

Some say this view is simply honest and realistic. Others say it just makes me a jerk. Thoughts?


Yes, I think a parent can love one child more than another. And it doesn't have to do anything with the less loved child being cold and so on. In fact, the parent may love the more wicked child more than the less wicked child. Or the colder one more than the less colder one.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#12  Postby Roquentin-34 » March 8th, 2017, 8:43 pm

Good points, by everyone. I do want to make one qualification. Parenting doesn't matter as much as people think. This is more psychology, but traits are determined by genetics, one's environment, and chance. "Environment" is multi-factorial, but the distinction between shared and non-shared environment is often made (siblings have shared parenting, but have non-shared peers and exposure to particular books). The problem is, genetics and shared environments overlap. A child could have anger issues because of bad parenting, but that's confounded with a genetic predisposition to get angry that's also inherited from the parents.

So, behavioral geneticists have looked at identical twins raised apart (different parenting) and identical twins raised together, and the fact the differences between them are negligible shows that genes, non-shared environments, and chance are really important. Parenting is very overrated, so Freud was wrong.

Regardless, in principle it's best to outwardly show equal treatment, of course. Though I agree it's okay to internally feel otherwise. A concept that interests me is unconditional love. Maybe that's not as justified or noble as it appears to be. Because it seems to imply we don't have reasons that ground who we love, and that no matter how much someone changes, our love for them remains completely inelastic.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#13  Postby LuckyR » March 9th, 2017, 3:48 am

Alias wrote:
Steve3007 wrote: I don't know what it might be like to actively dislike one of your own children - to think that they are not a good person. That would be distressing and I've no idea whether it would stop you loving them.

It is distressing. Very. And sad and frustrating and guilt-inducing and it keeps you up nights, chewing your tail off over what you've done wrong, what you might have done differently to help that child become a better person. You try, over and over, for years, to bridge the gaps, to find some common ground. You make overtures and invite the child to talk about "it", but you don't speak the same language. Eventually, after a dozen rebuffs, insults and disappointments, one final event forces you to admit that your affection can never be reciprocated, you do stop loving them. After five or six years, you hardly even talk about them anymore - like dead people. It is very much like having someone die.

-- Updated March 8th, 2017, 9:17 am to add the following --

Of course, this all happened after she was grown up and married to a conservative jerk, so no great loss.


Yes, the death is the death of the parent/child relationship that never was ie the one you wanted and anticipated.
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Re: To love one child more than another

Post Number:#14  Postby Dolphin42 » March 9th, 2017, 4:47 am

I like to take King Lear as a cautionary example of what happens if you try to quantity the relative levels of love of/for one's children. Everyone ends up dead or mad or both. All fun and games until someone loses an eye.
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