Amusing and insightful email responses highlighting the scars of favoritism and questionable favors influenced my decision for follow-up to offer additional ideas and wisdom for parents and grandparents in detecting and avoiding those pitfalls and perhaps acknowledging unintentional former poor judgment.
I liked your mom's one line response on who her favorite child was...I just adopted it. I was often told I was my mom’s favorite. The last of 5, she had me at 40....I remember her telling me on occasion (when she was trying to relax with other neighborhood ladies over coffee and a cigarette) "Why don't you go outside and play in the traffic" ....to which everyone laughed .... even me...but it was decades later that I realized how overwhelmed & exhausted she must've been. Years later, I realized that I was indeed mom’s favorite...usurping a previous favorite for unknown reasons that died with mom. She taught me how to glean a way of treating others with favor sans the favoritism stigma. J.
My mom wanted me, the first born, to be a girl so she could have a buddy, for balance in Dad’s family of all guys who were into sports and hunting as well as tensions with her mother, sister and brothers who all went different directions. So, I was the girl that she wanted to be and do with to her heart's desires of motherhood.
She was loving to a brother who arrived two years afterwards, but she mentioned a few times that she thought she had fallen short a few times in giving him some attention he probably needed. In retrospect, the many little sub-feeling-scenarios behind the dynamics of our families' interactions influenced me to become extremely sensitive, sympathetic and forgiving which equipped me to be unencumbered when I was mature enough to help out with elder family and friends.
That favoritism is everywhere.... the office, church, families, school, friend circles .... one can go crazy trying to sort it all out. God made us unique to serve a purpose resembling kind-of-like good, bad, ugly, marking our days according to His Plan or Purpose. And then it will be done. B.
There has been only one time that I was bold enough to ask someone for a favor. We have neighbors who live in a condemned house close to us from whom, a couple months ago, we got bed bugs. It was horrible. The woman had gone through 19 addiction setbacks. When she started moving things out of the house, I guess the creatures had nowhere to go so they came next-door. Fortunately, my landlord took care of the cost. The sheriff sale has been put off three times. My using a favor evolved from the fact that since the mayor is my cousin, I asked him if there was anything he could do to hurry the situation along. He said he would do the best. And he did just that. Thank you, Cousin Mayor. I find it easier to do favors for others—a gift. H.
Although bestowing favors is rarely questioned, drawbacks do occasionally arise from too much favor-giving, especially those given for the ulterior motives. And when the bestower is held hostage by demands for preferential favors, and by hook or by crook they receive special privileges, disruption and spoiling of family and community harmony abounds. Therefore, granting favors for the wrong reasons must be guarded and avoided like the plague.
When our children were small, I recall a preschooler relative stomping his feet and yelling at his mother, “If you don’t…. I will….!” and consequently holding his breath until he passed out. Not knowing how to deal wisely and circumvent his threat, she acquiesced to whatever he wanted, just to keep peace which injured him emotionally forever. This negative, immature and internal invasion is akin to blackmail.
Giving-in enables unhealthy behavior to continue long-term preventing correction perhaps for many years which by then requires painful adjustment in emotional damage-repair. Of course, the best approach is to identify the onset and avoid it firmly and kindly. Jim and I handled tantrums by quietly acknowledging the behavior by saying “When you stop…. I will do such or such. Not a bribe but incentive.
Dealing positively with ‘not giving in’ but giving a definite “no” answer to a demanding child and/or youth is best accomplished when both parents cooperate, by saying “We say yes, or we say no” which provides security and finality. As we shared in our Coaching book, when our youngest was a teenager and putting pressure on us to approve somewhere he wanted to go for which we were not comfortable, and we gave him the “We say no”-verdict he replied angrily, “Aw, Mom and Dad, the problem with you guys is that you stick together,” which was actually the highest of compliments and assured us that this was the best course to follow in parenting him. When our kids reached their twenties, in retrospect, we were told that they appreciate not being granted every favor for which they vied and not being treated with favoritism. A word to the wise is sufficient.
The bottom line, it appears, is to avoid all types of favoritism and stick with ‘be fair and do what’s best and right’. When contemplating showering favors, put the possibility through a sieve of questions: “Is this going to help the situation or create future problems?” “Is this favor or permission going to be an on-going expectation? “Am I merely being used as a catapult for getting his/her entitlement way?”
We can apply this same reasoning to our own requests/expectations. “Am I being selfish to want this favor?”, “Am I putting extra burden on my caregiver, relative, neighbor or friend? “Is my wanting this favor to give me something to boast about to my friends?” “Am I taking advantage of my needs?
Applying favoritism to spiritual considerations is comforting and good discipline. The little five-chapter book of James deals with favoritism in chapter 2…admonishing readers “…don’t show favoritism.”v.1.
The book of James also encourages doing nice things—favors--for people who have physical, financial and spiritual needs, but not just to those who are related to us or good friends.
Jesus loves all of us unconditionally and does not favor one person over another.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18 NIV
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for your constant presence.
And thank you for the wisdom that you give. Help us to be
wise about when and on whom to bestow financial, spiritual,
physical and listening favors. Help us treat everyone with
respect and love. Amen
FB: Have you every felt like you were being held hostage to favors that you could bestow? Click on:
https://ruthmcrobertsward.com/favoritism/favors-follow-up/ and view Kurt’s Garden scene.