Dad Under Fire for Revealing He Has a Favorite Child. Do You Have a Favorite?

Buzz Bishop and his son, Zacharie. Bishop has been under fire for calling Zacharie his favorite son. (Photo courtesy …Let's face it: It can be easier to spend time with a sunny kindergartener than a tantruming toddler. And while most parents are quick to say that they love all of their children equally, they're also willing to admit, in private, that there are times when they like one a little more than another. One dad has come under fire for publicly declaring that his older son is his favorite, sparking a debate about how we feel as parents—and whether it's OK to say it out loud.

Related: Are parents who hate parenting the latest trend?

"If I were to be absolutely honest, my older son is my favorite of the two," Buzz Bishop wrote at Babble.com, where he blogs as DadCamp. "He and I are adventurous partners in crime, and I can't imagine life without him. He was an accident waiting to happen, and I'm so glad it did."

There were plenty of other things for people to judge about the post—he also confessed that his girlfriend discovered she was pregnant just two months after they met, while he was still married to his first wife, and said he had been a "second fiddle step-dad" who never thought he'd have "my own" kids"— but parents honed in on the second-to-last paragraph, about his favoring his five-year-old son, Zacharie, over two-year-old Charlie.

Related: Do you have a favorite child? Take the quiz

"Favorite is a strong word to some, perhaps that's where the outrage comes in," Bishop told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. "I do not play favorites, or create inequities in my children's lives. My default habit, however, is to reach for my older son's hand first when it comes to our family outings."

He was even more candid in a follow-up post on Babble.com, in which he said, point-blank: "Yes, I have a favorite son and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm guessing you could look deep in the mirror and admit you have a favorite, too."

His wife, Jennifer, says she understands what he means.

"I know where he's coming from, and I know he loves them both the same," she told The Daily Mail. "It's just the age of the two, his favorite is the older one because he can relate more to him. It doesn't necessarily mean Zacharie is a favorite overall, he's just a favorite right now."

Bishop agrees.

"My choosing Zacharie as my favorite is not about 'playing favorites,' or 'preferential treatment' when I'm parenting," he wrote on Babble. "I don't let Zacharie get away with anything because he's my first pick, I just… y'know … like him better. I've admitted that while I loved my sons the minute they were born, I didn't really fall in love with them until they could do stuff."

With Zacharie, that happened when the boy was about 26 months old—around the same age that little Charlie is now.

"I don't 'do babies' very well, and so I would take time to get Zacharie out of the house when Charlie was napping," he told Yahoo! Shine. "I have just spent so much more time getting to know my older son that I lean his way when it comes to doing things."

"One commenter said, astutely I think, that I don't necessarily have a favorite kid, I have a favorite phase," he continued. "I'm looking forward to Charlie growing up and being able to get out and be active with me the ways Zacharie has."

Bishop, a radio DJ who lives with his wife and kids in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, acknowledges that what happens on the internet can stick around forever, but insists if his boys ever find out about his favoritism, it won't affect his relationship with them or their relationship with each other. If they ask, he says he'll point out that he's better with kids than he is with babies but, even so—and even after a three-year-long stint as a step-dad—he says that there's just something special about his first born.

"Z will always be special. He's my first. I never thought I would have kids until my wife got pregnant very soon after we met," he said. "He chose us to be his parents, and I am so grateful for the twist my life has taken. I will always hold that special. That said, when he's a petulant teen, and Charlie is a bubbly pre-teen, I'm sure I will ebb and flow with my 'favoritism'."

It's not unusual for parents to to have a favorite child, David A. Reinstein, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, pointed out. "Favoritism, in one form or another, is an ever present reality in parenting," he said. "People don't like to hear this, but I speak from many years of experience with thousands of families. It can be destructive, but more generally is not—it is just a reality."

What is unusual, Reinstein and other experts say, is for parents to admit that they have a favorite. And the outrage provoked by Bishop's blog post seems to back that up, with readers more upset about the public nature of his post than the content.

"You are a self-absorbed idiot who let his 'honesty' get in the way of the true responsibility of protecting one's child at all cost," wrote Jen Johnson Long of Fox River Grove, Illinois, on Facebook. "You have damaged both sons with your stupid comment."

"Just wanted to let you know that I stand by you regarding your comment about favoring one son over the other," Debby Basciano of Montreal wrote on Facebook. "Although I want to hit you in the head for putting it in writing, I do understand your point."

"I feel so sad for your younger child that this article has been published for him to find later in life. It will be very damaging to him," wrote Kim Slater. "Imagine how you would feel if your parents said that."

(The oldest of three kids, "My parents never called out a favorite," he told Yahoo! Shine. "That said, they never had a blog.")

While he doesn't regret writing the posts, Bishop—whose other posts on Babble have been decidedly less controversial—said that the uproar has made him more aware of how he relates to his kids.

"Yes, that means I need to spend time to get to know my younger son better," he said. "I have had to talk about myself and my situation so much these past few days that it has made me acutely aware of how I treat my boys. I am now very aware of showing any signs of bias and am working to balance the scales."

"Some good has come out of this," he added, "and I'm thankful for it."

What do you think? Is it fair to your kids to admit that you have a favorite?

Loading...

FOLLOW SHINE

POPULAR TEAM MOM STORIES