Is It Okay to Publicly Announce Which of Your Kids is Your Favorite? (The answer is no, dumbass)
I tweeted a sarcastic tweet the other day, and ended up on national TV, as part of what will probably come to be known as the most ridiculous of all parent blogging controversies ever.
So there's this dad blogger who writes, in an offhand way, apropos of almost nothing, that he favors his older son over the younger one. This inspires a bunch of comments saying how mean he is for writing that, and how his youngest will probably read it and hate him one day.
Then he writes a post to clarify his original one. This is the point at which he could have said: "Well, that was a poor choice of words. What I really meant to say is that I like the 5-year old stage better than the 2-year old stage." That would have been only a little dicky rather than flat-out cruel. But instead, he attempts a very risky stunt: He simultaneously backpedals and doubles down. He says that he only likes the older kid better because he's more fun right now and can do more stuff, and his relationship with the younger child is still developing. That sounds a little more reasonable, right? But. Instead of conceding that maybe he should have phrased it differently, he essentially says, "And if that's what 'favorite' means, then, yeah...he's my favorite. You know you've got a favorite too. You should admit it. Feels good." It's almost like he's being controversial on purpose, to get some pageviews and media attention or something.
Oh, hey. He does get a bunch of attention! This becomes "news," and international media outlets cover the "story." The blogger sticks to his guns on all the interviews he does, and never admits that there's any problem with announcing his favoritism on the internet and now on TV. His statements are preserved in countless forums across the internet, which his kids will certainly run across one day. (For their sake, I hope they recognize it as one of wacky ol' Dad's ploys to get famous.)
So when I read one of this guy's tweets (I don't feel like linking to him because I'm just sick of hearing his name--if you want to learn more details, Google will provide them) about how he's just being brave and telling the truth about what all of us parents know in our heart of hearts, I had to respond sarcastically that he was doing "really important work."
The idea that bringing the subject of "who's your favorite kid" into the light is somehow important and worth throwing your kid under the bus for is the biggest crock of shit in this whole controversy.
Out of my two kids, I don't have a favorite. I couldn't if I tried. They're changing so fast that it's like they have personality overhauls every week or so. They certainly have strong and vacillating opinions regarding who is their favorite parent...because they are TINY CHILDREN. I can accept that some parents like one kid better than the others. There's not much you can do about that. But here's the thing. YOU DON'T ANNOUNCE THAT. No good can come of it. This is Level 1 parenting stuff. You are the grown up. Sometimes you have to deny yourself the catharsis of admitting your deepest darkest secrets to the children who rely on you for emotional security.
There are plenty of taboo subjects that should see the light of day and be hashed out in public discussions. It would certainly be helpful for some people to discuss the reality of their preference for one child over the other (naturally, being careful to hide this information from the younguns), and how to make sure that it doesn't negatively impact the less-favored kid. But that's not what this guy did. He just came right out and said he liked Kid A better than Kid B, and that he didn't really see a problem with it. And then he got hella-indignant that the majority of internet users who witnessed his confession didn't understand how brave he was being. Ugh.
Yes, the hand-wringing and the media coverage has been over the top. It was just a few sentences that this guy wrote originally, a gaffe by some random dude on the internet, who parlayed it into a 24-hr news cycle of fame. And I have been complicit in perpetuating it. I went on CNN Headline News (they contacted me after reading my snarky tweet) and said something like what I wrote above, but less coherently, and with shifty eyes and a tremor in my voice. Why didn't I rise above this overblown and warmed over (a mom blogger wrote essentially the same post, on the same site, last year) kerfuffle? For one thing, the guy rubs me the wrong way, and I truly think it's beyond the pale to broadcast something that's even potentially hurtful about your kids just to get pageview bonuses and eyeballs on your stupid blog. And secondly, I wanted to get pageviews and eyeballs on my stupid blog. There. I admitted it. Feels good. And I didn't even have to sell either of my kids down the river.