The Favorite Child: How a Favorite Impacts Every Family Member for Life
by Ellen Weber Libby, Ph.D.

Prometheus Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-591-02762-1.
Reviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 01/03/2011

Nonfiction: Relationships

Favoritism surrounds us, everywhere and all of the time. In The Favorite Child Libby states that the favorite child complex is "made up of those conscious and unconscious behaviors enacted by all the family members in reaction to a favored relationship between one parent and one child." She explores how favoritism can either encourage self-confidence and ambition in the child or foster a sense of entitlement, a knack for manipulation, and a feeling that the favorite is not being held accountable.

Libby asserts that the favorite child complex is a pattern within families, passed down through the generations. Libby explains that favoritism is conscious and unconscious and every family member is involved. Of course, family dynamics also impact how the complex will affect the child(ren) being raised. The impacts (positive and negative) of family favoritism can be profound and play out throughout our lifetimes, from childhood through death, personally and professionally. The favoritism can be fixed permanently on one child, or fluid, rotating among the children in the family.

In The Favorite Child, Libby shares case studies with her readers, helping them to understand how the personality of a child can develop as a fixed or fluid favorite within the family. She examines both the negative and positive impacts of being the favorite through many scenarios and developmental stages. Parents should be aware of the favorite child complex. It will give them an insightful perspective on parenting, which is always helpful.

Ellen Weber Libby, Ph.D. she has devoted her professional life to fostering the psychological well being of individuals, couples, and families. Prior to beginning her private practice, Dr. Libby was the clinical director of a mental health center and on the faculty at the University of Maryland. The Favorite Child is her first book. Find out more on her website.

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