Friday, November 19, 2004

How favoritism poisons family ties

How favoritism poisons family ties

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Thursday, November 18, 2004 10:42 PM

Part 2 of 3 parts

When favoritism is practiced in the family, an acute sense of injustice poisons the relationships between the offending parent, the favorite and the other children. Remember that the less-favored children are helpless to make right what they truly perceive as unjust behavior on the part of their parents. They simply are forced to live with the situation that eats away at their hearts on a daily basis.

They just have to accept the unacceptable, grin and bear it even if they hate every minute of it. It is like you having to work in an office where the boss blatantly favors your officemate. It drives you crazy. And when you can’t take it anymore, you leave and find another job.

But what if, like little children, you can’t leave and have to live with the situation? Everyday the injustice that you witness keeps eating away at your morale. Everyday, your anger and resentment are building up. You dislike the boss for his unfair treatment and you dislike the favorite for accepting the undeserved favors and advantages. You feel demeaned as a person. Your sense of self-worth and self-esteem take a hit.

As an adult, you might be able to do something about it. Maybe you can go over the boss’ head and talk to a higher ranking executive in the hope of rectifying the situation. If that fails and you can’t handle it anymore, you can always resign and go somewhere else.

Not so when you’re a child. You are helpless and feel hopeless about what is going on. And every time your parents show favoritism for your sibling, it is like a blow to the heart. You get upset with them and you start hating the favored one. You feel left out, less loved and less lovable.

You feel like rebelling but you cannot, especially if you’re still little. As an adolescent and a teenager, you can show your teeth and wait for the day when you can leave the house. Even then, however, the hurt remains. Those ugly feelings can linger in your heart for life. You might even take them to your grave.

I have often heard grown men and women speak with anger and resentment that won’t go away about the favoritism and the unfair ways of a parent. The hard feelings against the favored one are still visible even if there is an attempt to forgive. The hurt is so deep that healing is difficult and often never happens.

More tomorrow.


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