Kids either become performers or favorites
Parenting groups. They are a strong presence in the Pacific Norwest of the United States. I started joining after the birth of my first child. Bonding, lamenting, venting, supporting. These are the obvious benefits of organized socializing around share interests.
One of the surprising effects of talking to a similar group about my highs and lows in parenting was how often I retreated back to my own childhood.
I started to see a pattern in my own childhood as well as other families. If there were at least two children in the family, there were two archetypes: a favorite and a performer.
The favorite in the family was the one that was, knowingly or unknowingly, doted on. Parents were well meaning, but they probably unintentionally engaged in enabling relationships with the favorite.
The performer, on the other hand, was someone who had to prove herself.
I do consider myself the performer in my family. It was subtle. I felt loved. But there must have been a range of behaviors while being around the favorite that had undue influence on my performance as an adult.
I was able to achieve more milestones in adult life than my brother. I felt more responsibility for the outcomes of the people I loved. I was able to change my physics whenever I needed to without the help of my parents.
I find a lot of career and purpose driven mothers who are interested in optimizing their work-life juggle to be performers.
These thoughts make me feel cautious about my own parenting. Especially around my blind spots on how I treat my children.
I don’t want to favor anyone. I want them all to perform.