The price of being ‘Mummy’s favourite’

13 November 2015

Adults who think they are their mother’s favourite child have an increased risk of depression, according to a new study.

Researchers think that both being the target of sibling rivalry, and feeling committed towards their parent, can take their toll on preferred children. 

Professor Jill Suitor, Purdue University, Indiana, US, who led the study, says: “There is a cost for those who perceive they are the closest emotionally to their mothers, and these children report higher depressive symptoms.”

The academics analysed 725 adult children with an average age of 49, looking at levels of emotional closeness, conflict, pride and disappointment.

They also find that adults who think their mother is disappointed in them, or who they fought with a lot, display still more signs of depression.

Those who think they are closer to their mother, say researchers, are less friendly with their siblings.

“This tension can increase later in life as parents approach their late 70s and 80s,” according to the study in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences. “We find it particularly intriguing that siblings continue to engage in such a high degree of social comparison even well into their middle years.”


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