Playing Favorites

My favorite sons

Have you heard about Buzz Bishop, the Canadian radio host who recently published a blog entry in which he specifically notes that his older son is his favorite? I was flipping through some current headlines online when I saw a reference to his blog and had to check it out. Since his blog post, he has been both lambasted and praised for his honesty about his parental favoritism. Playing favorites has long been a topic among parents and children. If you’re of a certain age, you perhaps remember an episode from The Brady Bunch when middle daughter Jan is upset that everything is always about “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” My sisters and I have long joked about which one of us is Mom’s favorite, despite my mom’s assertion that she has always loved us the same equally.

I had to read more from Bishop to get an idea of where he was coming from when he wrote his blog. His assertion is that he loves his children equally but likes one more than the other. I’m sure there’s not a parent out there who can deny that in a bad moment, one child may seem easier or more pleasant than another, but I hope that feeling stems from a situational place and not a heartfelt one. I love both my boys and like them both for different reasons. They each present different challenges and they each provide different joys. Depending on the moment, I may feel closer to one than the other, but my heart knows no favorites. Beyond that though, even if my heart felt more strongly attached to one child than the other, I would never write about it knowing that someday my child might read my words and be deeply hurt.

My gut reaction to Bishop’s admission is that it was unnecessary. I’m a wholehearted supporter of  honesty in writing, but I also believe that there are some things worth keeping to yourself. This type of journalistic behavior, where we say whatever we’re thinking without giving a thought to the consequences of our message, is egotistical and self-serving. I’m sure it felt great for Bishop to get that information off his chest, but because he used such a visible platform for his disclosure there will someday be a ramification for his action. I have to wonder if then, when his son confronts him from a place of sadness and anger, he will think it was such a good idea. The written word, like the cockroach, lives on despite our occasional wish to quash it post admission. Sharing with your children your experiences is important. Sharing with them that they’re not your favorite? Well…that’s something better left unsaid. Sometimes I think it’s better if we keep some thoughts to ourselves.