“Whose house do you like better, mum or dad’s?” this is a question I have surprisingly been asked more than once.
Playing ‘favourites’ can be really tough on kids with two homes. Hell, on kids in general!
Asking somebody to choose between people, places and events can be really unfair.
It can often make a kid feel super guilty, pressured and confused for no good reason at all.
If you don’t have a favourite, you’re not alone!
No one should ever make you feel like you have to choose.
What Do You Mean By ‘Favourites’?
Having a favourite type of soft drink, lolly or park is normal. So too is having a favourite type of sport or beach that you like to visit.
These ‘favourites’ have likely been decided by you, with your own free will and based on what your preferences are.
Growing up, you have probably heard people saying, “I’m mum’s favourite child” or “I’m the favourite grandchild in my family.” This is relatively harmless and likely said light-heatedly.
However, the meaning of ‘favourites’ changes when it comes to choosing between your parents or your homes in a situation of divorce, separation or family conflict.
You may voluntarily choose to have a favourite- that is entirely your own choice.
However, choosing a favourite is something you should never feel as though you have to do.
The ‘Favourite’ Question
I find it slightly ridiculous that one of my vivid memories is standing on my primary school’s oval contemplating how to answer my friend’s question:
“Whose house is your favourite, mum or dad’s?.”
Upon being asked this question I instantly felt a wave of guilt come over me.
How could I possibly be contemplating picking between my parents, my homes?!
I remember thinking to myself, oh no, mum or dad would be heartbroken if I didn’t choose them.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you may very well have a favourite home or parent. This is entirely your choice to make and feel comfortable with!
However, the minute that you feel pressured, guilty or confused is when choosing a favourite can be unfair.
How To Answer The ‘Favourite Question’
Here, your communication skills can come in super handy.
Whilst you may feel pressured to answer the favourite question, it is unlikely that the person asking the question is trying to make you feel that way.
They are probably just super curious and truly don’t understand the impact it may be having on you.
Everybody can choose to answer the ‘favourite question’ in whatever way suits them, however, here are a few tips that have helped me:
1. Take a deep breath
· This sounds silly but trust me, do it.
2. Politely explain your thought process out loud to the person asking the question
· Often mine is:
o “I find it really difficult to answer that question because I really don’t have an answer. I don’t have a favourite- I love my parents and my homes equally.”
3. Listen to the person’s reaction
· This will certainly vary from person to person, just remember whatever their reaction may be, stay cool, calm and collected.
· You are not required to answer anybody’s questions, especially when the question may relate to something extremely personal.
4. If you feel uncomfortable, politely change the topic or end the conversation
· An example of how you may do this includes:
o “Sorry, this conversation makes me feel uncomfortable, I would really appreciate if we changed the topic.”
Hey Parents, Listen Up!
If you’re a parent of kids who go between two homes, I empathise with you, the pain you may feel at times and the likely struggles you have experienced.
‘Sharing’ your kids with an entire other home is not easy, I get it.
However, I genuinely believe and will always abide by the notion that ‘everything should be done in the best interests of the kids.’
At times, the outcome of this notion may seem completely unfair, however, my parents have always taught me that ‘the kids come first, always.’
To put it bluntly- this means not playing favourites.
I understand that you want to be the ‘cool’ mum or dad. You want your kids to love your house and love spending time with you. Sometimes you may find yourself striving for this ‘label’ to the detriment of the kid’s relationship with their other parent.
Striving to be the best possible parent you can be is absolutely in the best interests of your kids. However, making them feel as though you should be their favourite parent is entirely unfair.
Be the best parent you can possibly be but never make your kid choose.
On the premise that it is safe to do so, you should always encourage your kids to love their parents to whatever extent they wish to love them.
There need not be favourites.
You’re Not Alone
Although not being in your shoes, I aim to understand and honour your unique position in this world. Please feel free to contact me by submitting a contact form here or emailing at email@example.com.