10 Signs Your Parents Play Favorites (and Why it Freaking Sucks)

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Signs Parents Play Favorites

It’s not always intentional, but parents often show signs that they play favorites among their children.

They might relate to, get along with, and approve of one child over their others.

And while it might not be on purpose, parents need to recognize the damage it can do to their kids who feel less loved their siblings.

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What does it mean when a parent has a favorite child?

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, it’s not uncommon for parents to favor one child over their others.

Maybe that child is “easier” in their eyes, or maybe they simply relate to them more.

Maybe one child is “more of a handful”, while the other is their “good kid”.

Even though a parent believes they love all their kids the same, they might not show and express that love the same.

How do I know if my parents are playing favorites?

Honestly, your gut will most likely tell you that your parents play favorites.

You searching for this post is enough confirmation that your suspicions are probably true.

Throughout your life, you’ve likely felt inferior or less than a sibling, and it’s had a tremendous impact on your self-esteem and mental health.

And in this post, you’ll discover 10 signs your parents undoubtedly play favorites.

Does parental favoritism affect kids?

I have first-hand knowledge that yes, parental favoritism affects kids.

It affects kids so much that this trauma carries all the way into adulthood.

And more likely than not, a parent will favor one child for the rest of their life.

How favoritism affects kids ⤵️

  • Low self-worth
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger

When your parents (or grandparents) favor one sibling over you, it might feel like the damage is irreversible.

Speaking of healing from favoritism, have you downloaded your free inner child healing workbook yet? 👇

10 Signs Your Mom and Dad Favor Your Sibling


When your parents don’t enforce rules in a uniform way, this can lead to confusion and resentment.

For example, one child might face stricter rules while another kid acquires much more leniency.

Lower expectations for one child are typically a sign of favoritism, while unfavored children are consistently held to a higher standard.

Rules that can be unevenly enforced ⤵️

  • grades
  • chores
  • curfew
  • behavior

This means, the unfavored child deals with more rigorous expectations and can end up resenting not only their parents, but they can also hold a grudge against their siblings as well.


Not only is it unfair when not every child is required to do chores, but it’s also beyond frustrating for the kids who have to carry all the weight.

I remember my oldest sister somehow getting out of cleaning the house growing up, and the chores were left to me and my sister (the middle child).

To be totally honest, I can’t ever really remember her helping around the house at all.

This made me bitter about the whole situation, and I hated cleaning for years because of it.

Use these to heal from the resentment:

👉 11 Ways to Heal Childhood Trauma Spiritually (and Awaken Your Inner Child)


When rules are broken, one child might receive harsher discipline than a sibling who broke a similar rule.

If this becomes a pattern, the child who receives unfair punishment can feel like they can never do anything right.

This can cause the kid to lash out, or try everything in their power to seek their parent’s approval — only to be let down again.

These meditations might help you heal:

👉 22 Powerful Inner Child Healing Meditations (Guided and Unguided)


It was obvious to me growing up that my parents (especially my mom) had almost zero patience with me.

This caused me to face an internal battle with myself and spiral into a panic whenever I experienced big, human emotions.

By the time I was 8, I learned that whenever I experienced anger, frustration, or anxiety, I was going to be physically punished for it.

In fact, I was forced to wear diapers at 8, because my mom told me: “If you’re gonna act like a baby, you’re gonna get treated like a baby.”

If you experienced abuse, these songs might help:

👉 40 Child Abuse Songs (When You Had a Bad Childhood)


Parents who regularly side with one child over the other can make the unfavored child feel forgotten, unworthy, and unloved.

Being the youngest child, I got picked on a lot.

I remember one instance in particular when my older sisters were bullying me, and my mom just laughed.

This made me cry harder at the realization that my mom wasnt going to stick up for me.

When you need to heal your inner child:

👉 101 Healing Inner Child Affirmations (to Reparent Yourself)


Not only can a parent side with one child more frequently, but they may also reward their favored child more often.

The golden child’s accomplishments are more easily recognized and congratulated.

When the favorite child is rewarded, it seems more genuine and not forced like it is with the overlooked child.

This can cause the unfavored kid to believe they’re not good enough, or that no matter how hard they try, their efforts won’t matter.

These quotes are great for overcoming self-doubt:

👉 83 Inspiring Self-Doubt Quotes (to Push Past Limiting Beliefs and Build Confidence)


I’ve definitely heard, “Why can’t you be more like so and so?” on a number of occasions.

Parents don’t just compare one of their children to their other kids.

Sometimes they also compare their kids to other kids at school, on social media, or on the news.

But this causes the unfavored kid to believe that there’s something inherently wrong with them — and this can take years and years of therapy to dismantle.

If you relate to this, check out these movies:

👉 23 Heartbreaking Movies About Childhood Trauma


Comparing one child to another often goes hand-in-hand with complaining about one child.

Parents can make snide comments just within earshot of their less-liked child.

Sometimes they even say hurtful things to their child’s face.

Common phrases toxic parents say ⤵️

  • “If you just learn to apply yourself…”
  • “You just have to try harder!”
  • “You’re so lazy!”

When a parent frequently complains about one child to the other, their favored child might feel uncomfortable and like they were put in the middle.

More about toxic parenting:

👉 107 Toxic Parents Quotes (When Mother and Father Are Abusive AF)


A mom might feel more relaxed and calm around her favored child.

Or maybe a dad might smile more, cracks more jokes, and ultimately feel less stressed.

Of course, it’s only natural for a parent to relate to one of their kid’s hobbies and interests over another, but they should make an effort to spend time with all their kids equally.

It’s also so important for every kid to feel supported for their likes and dislikes.

How to honor your inner child:

👉 33 Sentimental Toys for Your Inner Child (for 90s Babies)


A parent might view one of their children as “too difficult” or “too much of a hassle”.

This can lead the parent to find reasons to leave their one child at home.

When their unfavored child is frequently left at home, they can feel left out and left behind.

This can cause serious damage to their self-worth and self-esteem.

When your parents like your sibling more than you

It’s not always intentional, but parents often relate to, get along with, and approve of one child over another.

And even though it’s not always intentional, the emotional effects are long-lasting.

I am so sorry if you’ve experienced this, and my hope is that you can find a way out of this darkness.

Therapy can help.

Speaking of healing, have you downloaded your free inner child healing workbook yet? 👇

Related inner child posts:

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Signs My Parents Play Favorites