While it's unlikely that your mom loves your sibling more than you, there are some possible reasons why it may have felt that way as you were growing up — and even now that you're an adult. If your mom gave your sibling (or siblings) more attention than she gave you, for example, it may have felt like she was playing favorites. But in many instances, this is simply a sign she loved you all in different ways.
And that's, of course, only natural when it comes to raising kids. Growing up, we all have different needs and we all end up requiring different levels of support from our parents. So if yours reacted to all of the things that made you and your siblings different, it may have felt like they gave your siblings more attention.
The thing to remember is, "sometimes one child needs more attention than others due to various life events," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. "If a child is struggling in school, for example, they may need more attention." Or it's possible your sibling was more sensitive, and your parents reacted by hugging them and doting on them more often.
Whatever the case may be, "it is easy to chalk that up to our parents favoring a sibling," Hershenson says. "But that is not always the case." Here are a few more reasons why it may have felt like your mom loved your siblings more, even though it likely had nothing to do with how she actually felt.
1. They Disciplined You Differently
It's not uncommon for parents to discipline their kids differently, but especially so if one child requires more discipline or attention. "Some moms will let things slide for one sibling while being extremely strict with another," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle.
And that can certainly feel unfair. But more often than not, it's simply because, "one child requires more monitoring and the other is more trustworthy," he says. If you were the good kid while your sibling was always out causing trouble, it's likely your parents were pretty much forced to give them more attention, as a way of keeping them safe.
2. Your Sibling Was Less Motivated
The same may be true if your sibling required more motivation or support, in school and beyond. As Hershenson says, "Sometimes if one child seems to be less motivated in areas such as sports or school, parents feel the need to give them more attention or push them," which can also result in one child feeling less loved.
3. They Related More To Your Sibling
While it may have felt like favoritism, consider all the reasons why your mom or dad may have spent more time with your sibling, when it came to hobbies and hang-out time. As Bennett says, "It ... could indicate that the [parent] simply relates more to the hobbies chosen by one sibling."
And when that's the case, "despite their efforts they may have seemed to be 'more into' your sibling — as their interests were compatible," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "They love you, they just didn’t love the things you did as much as you did."
4. They Spent More Money On Your Sibling
If your parents dole out cash to your sibling, but have never given you so much as a fiver, take it as a compliment. "Some children might have more of a financial need or require more 'investment,'" Bennett says.
Perhaps your sibling's in a career field that doesn't pay as much as yours does, and now they need your parents to help as they get on their feet. Or maybe they needed extra support as a kid in the form of tutoring or after-school care to help with their grades, so it always seemed like they were getting more attention.
As Bennett says, "Most fair parents try their best to keep things mostly equal." But for all these reasons and more, it's not always possible.
5. Your Sibling Was Far More Sensitive
Differences in how your mom treated you and your siblings may have also stemmed from your varied personalities. For example, were you always fairly independent, while your sibling was much more sensitive and in need of comfort?
As Hershenson says, "Sensitive children often need more attention and more coddling. If you are the 'strong' sibling your parents may have been more hands of," in their approach to raising you.
6. You Were More Sensitive
On the flip side, if you were the more sensitive one, this could have played out in a lack of attention, too. "Sensitive children get in trouble less often," Dr. Klapow says. So if your sibling was the one who was stubborn and always in trouble — and your mom was constantly running to discipline them — it's easy to interpret this as her loving them more.
7. Your Sibling Loves The Spotlight
It's not uncommon for parents to shine more attention on a child who asks for it, such as one who clearly enjoys being in the spotlight, or one who's involved in activities that require an audience.
"If you have a sibling who excels at certain activities or skills such as acting or sports and they crave attention, your parents may have brushed you off thinking you don’t want attention," Hershenson says. While not necessarily fair or balanced, it may explain why you always felt like they weren't there for you as much as they were for your sibling.
8. You're The Oldest
Birth order often plays a major role in how much attention parents end up giving their kids. So if you're the oldest, it may explain why things never felt balanced.
"When it comes to birth order, if you are the oldest child amongst your siblings, it is important to consider that because you were the 'first child,' your parents were figuring out who they were as parents," psychologist Dr. Danielle Forshee tells Bustle. "For the second and proceeding children, your parents had reasonably figured out their parenting style. This likely created a different experience for you."
9. They Adjusted Their Parenting Style As Time Went On
Like it or not, parents often change how they treat each child, as time goes on and they learn from mistakes. "Our past mistakes seem to be our greatest teacher," Jacob Kountz, clinic manager of a CSU, tells Bustle. "So, any past actions made with [their first born] that didn't seem to work out may not work well with [their second]."
This can lead to the oldest child feeling like things weren't fair, or that their parents loved their younger siblings more. They may feel like their younger siblings got the best treatment, while younger children may feel like their parents are way more strict. The combos here are truly endless.
In many instances, though, none of it has anything to do with how much love a parent feels. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that resentment can build up if things actually were unfair, or if you've yet to overcome these feelings of unfairness.
If you just can't seem to shake the feeling that your mom loved your siblings more, it may be a good idea to reach out to a therapist for support.