Parents often say that they don’t have a favorite child. Researchers say that’s not true.
A Cornell University study talked to 275 different mothers, asking them if they felt closer to one child than the others. Every mother in the study had at least two kids. These children were now adults — there were 671 of them in all. The vast majority of the mothers — 70% said that they felt closest to one of the children.
Now, since these were adult children, that does play into it. It could be that one child physically moved across the country, while the other did not. The parents may naturally feel closer to the one who stayed near their family home, especially after decades. Perhaps the parents did not have a favorite when the children were minors, but their view changed over time.
Still, this type of favoritism often leads to inheritance disputes. The sibling who is not the favorite may feel like they deserved better treatment when the will is read. The child who the parent sees more and feels closer to may really get more assets as a result. Plus, if the favoritism is clear, the children could have a healthy sibling rivalry as a result, and that rivalry can lead to confrontations and disagreements when the parents pass away.
Parents usually hope that their children will get along when dividing the estate, but it doesn’t always happen. Favoritism is just one piece of the equation. It’s wise for all adult children and other beneficiaries to know exactly what rights they have during a dispute.