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See Inside November / December 2010

When Mom Has Favorites

Children who receive unequal treatment are more likely to grow into depressed adults

Kids fare poorly when Mom plays favorites, but now a study from Cornell University has found that even adults may experience lasting effects from Mom’s preferential treatment. The study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found that people who grew up in homes where they perceived maternal favoritism were more prone to depression as adults. Strikingly, it didn’t matter if they were the favored or unfavored child. “Favored children can experience guilt about their preferred status, extra demands from parents, and resentment from siblings,” says Karl Pillemer, the lead author and a gerontologist at Cornell.

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