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The Un Favourite / Real Life

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  • A lot of kids have suspicions that they might be this.
  • Sadly, truth in television, for a number of reasons.
    • A study indicated that most parents do, in fact, have favorites. Equal treatment or attempts at same aside, most people are people and just relate more to one kid or the other, and therefore prefer to spend time with him or her and pursue their shared interests.
    • If the child shows signs of disobedience, has strong opinions, strong will, does not live up to expectations of his parents, fails to perform well in school, hobbies, social circles or does not fulfill the parents' demands, s/he has good chances of ending up as the Unfavorite.
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    • Often happens to children with sexuality or gender issues.
    • Many times the favorite can be the child who is always in trouble as they are often seen as the baby, or needing extra attention, while the harder working and smarter child has more pressure constantly put on them.
    • When the parents had certain unfulfilled expectations. For example, if a family wanted one boy, one girl, and the firstborn was a girl so the second one was supposed to be a boy, but turned out not to be, then there would likely be a great deal of resentment against her.
    • In families that are poorer, oftentimes when they have one child, they'll be able to afford new clothes and such for that child, but when the second one comes along, being able to afford to take care of both will undoubtedly be harder, so the second child ends up with a lot of hand-me-downs from their older sibling, which can lead to them feeling like they are loved less, particularly when they're at an age when they can't really understand financial issues.
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    • Some studies suggest the oldest child in a family is more prone to be the favourite by default. Parents spend more time navigating their job as parents with the first-born, tend to feed them better and pay more attention to physical development, then sort of coast with later children once they know the basic motions. Sometimes, however, this has the exact opposite effect. If the parents made some particularly bad mistakes the first-born can either feel like they were the "test child" and their younger siblings get treated better as a result, or end up as nervous wrecks who live in fear of becoming failures to their parents.
    • If one child has some sort of disability or chronic illness, then the other siblings can often feel like this, due to the extra time, attention, and focus that the child with needs gets, even when they understand that it's not the disabled/ill sibling's fault at all. In some cultures, disabled kids themselves are, because they are seen as cursed or affected by dark magic, or as a burden.
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    • An overtly talented and/or intelligent child may become one, especially if father is less talented/intelligent than the child, because he will experience the child as a threat to his authority and attempt to eliminate that threat. Alternately, a gifted child might be favored over less-gifted siblings and parents may excuse them from chores so they can do schoolwork, or may get angry if another child struggles in a class that the gifted child excelled at. Groups that advocate for gifted children caution strongly against this, and inform parents that all their children have value regardless of intelligence level.
    • Narcissistic parents tend to favor one child, while making another The Scapegoat. Not fun for that child.
  • Families both royal and common in general would've been prone to this in the past, as later children would had to deal with the first-born inheriting the family wealth while they got less, if any. And royals would naturally give the most attention to the heir to the throne (firstborn, usually).
  • In certain cultures, daughters. In some countries, it is common for women to have abortions if the child is the "wrong gender." This has actually gone so far in mainland China as to have started to flip the preferred gender — used to be, sons were preferred because they could continue the family line. Now, however, Gender Rarity Value has kicked in: it's become rather expensive to marry off a son.
    • The Chinese traditionally favored large families, and in relation to this trope, that gives a bigger pool to choose the Favorite or Heir from. You sure as heck don't want to be the Unfavorite.
  • Animals do this a lot. Strong, healthy young have better survival chances than runts, and for this reason are often favored by parents. Sick young are often rejected, as nature won't allow time to be wasted on a baby that will not survive. Even species that don't usually do it will if food is scarce or if they have more than they can feed — especially mammals, who only have so many teats to go around, like in Charlotte's Web. Marsupials, for example, have young that latch onto a teat and stay there for weeks or months. If there are more babies than teats, the extras must be abandoned. Sometimes, even other young will attack small or sick offspring, especially if food is scarce; animals who are known to do this include birds and live-bearer sharks (whose young eat each other inside the womb at times).
  • According to the history... Date Masamune, despite being the rightful heir of the Date clan and quite liked by his father, is the Unfavorite for his mother. Thanks to him plucking his eye out, she has deemed him unworthy to inherit the clan and favors his younger brother. This has gotten so bad that at one point his mother tries poisoning his food just so he'd die and his brother could take over. Masamune's response? Kill his brother just so his mother can see him rule, like it or not. After his father's death, he ends up banishing his mother to her home clan (his allies, which also goes on to be one of his most trusted allies in Sekigahara).
  • Wilhelm II, the last emperor of the German Empire, was despised by his mother, who even openly refused to write him birthday messages. This may have been a major contributing factor for him to grow up to be arsehole enough to declare war on one of his closest cousins, "Nikki").
    • Wilhelm felt very close to and dearly loved his grandmother, Queen Victoria, who died in his arms. It would seem she got along better with him than with her son, the Prince of Wales, who appears to have been her least favorite child. (Her partiality for Wilhelm was in large part because he was the only one of her grandchildren who was old enough to remember her late husband, Prince Albert.) This may have contributed to the deep antipathy between Edward VII and Wilhelm II. And most of his British cousins thought of him as an arrogant and obnoxious Jerk Ass, not to mention being cantankerous and grouchy.
  • The House of Tudor had this in spades when it came to the offspring of Henry VIII. Of all his numerous children, only three of his legitimate offspring survived childhood - Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward. Mary, for many years, was his only legitimate child, so he doted on her until his marriage to Anne Boleyn; after that, he more or less abandoned her in favor of Elizabeth. After Anne's beheading, he married Jane Seymour, who persuaded him to bring both daughters back into the fold. Jane was the mother of Edward, whom Henry naturally favored as the long-awaited prince who would eventually succeed him as Edward VI.
    • For some time even before Elizabeth's birth, Mary seems to have been the unfavourite next to her father's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy.
  • Lindsay Lohan's siblings Cody (aka Dakota), Ali and Michael Jr. are apparently this to their father.
  • In the most tragic real-life examples of this trope, the Unfavorite ends up abused or even killed by his or her own parents or guardians. Some noteworthy examples of this trope include:
    • Jeanette Maples, a 15-year-old Oregon girl who was neglected, abused and finally killed by her mother, Angela McAnulty, who was sentenced to death for the crime.
    • California teenagers Suesan and Sheila Knorr endured months of abuse and torture at the hands of their mother, Theresa, before they finally died. According to Theresa's surviving daughter, the torture was borne of jealousy that the girls were blossoming into young women while their mother was losing her looks. Theresa was given two concurrent life sentences for the murders.
    • In 1965, Indianapolis teenager Sylvia Likens was abused, tortured and finally killed by Gertrude Baniszewski, who was supposed to be caring for Sylvia and her younger sister Jenny while the girls' parents traveled for work. Gertrude, who forced the other children living in the household to participate in the torture and abuse, got a life sentenced but was paroled after 20 years and eventually died of cancer.
  • When future writer Robert Benchley's older brother was killed during the Spanish-American War, his mother's first response upon getting the news was "Why couldn't it have been Robert?!" — in his presence.
  • Empress Elizabeth of Ausstria-Hungary (also known as 'Empress Sissi') doted on her youngest daughter, Marie Valerie. Because Sissi was not permitted to raise her older children Gisela and Rudolf (raised by Sissi's extremely by-the-book Almighty Mom-in-law and aunt, Archduchess Sophie), their relationship was not able grow as close as Sissi's relationship with Valerie — the only of her kids she was allowed to raise freely. It did not help that Sissi's eldest daughter Sophie died as a toddler and the loss badly, badly affected her.
  • Tiffany Trump is apparently this to her father, Donald Trump, out of all his adult children.
  • On the Reddit sub-community r/raisedbynarcissists, the favorite child of a family is called the "Golden Child", the child who is loved, adored, and has all their flaws excused or glossed over, while the un-favorite is called the "Scapegoat", the one who is blamed, despised, and punished for everything that goes wrong. (A child who is neither of these and is simply ignored most of the time, neither loved nor hated, is called a "Lost Child".) Many posters have submitted stories about how they were the Scapegoats in their own families, but some are former Golden Children whose siblings were the Scapegoats instead.
  • In their comedy routines, Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers often lamented to his brother Dick that "Mom always liked you best!"
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