The essence of the the solution to the Favoritism problem and the mental disturbances that result from it, mainly in the life and mental/emotional status and behavior of the Disfavored child, and the answer to the majority of diagnoses described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses (DSM), is as follows:
The PLG must shift her/his attention, LOVE and indulgence, from the Favored child, AND LEAN TOWARD LOVING THE LESS FAVORED CHILD.
Although this may sound simple, or even stupid, unrealistic and unattainable, it is understood that it’s not as easy and straight-forward as it sounds. Parents may feel that given the seriousness, turmoil and upset they face in their family, particularly due to the Disfavored child’s behavior, changing the direction of their LOVE is not only impossible, but will not solve the problem. Parents commonly believe they are sharing their LOVE equally between the children and do not need instructions from an unknown person who is not familiar with their home situation. They most often conclude the author is wrong and does not know what is going on inside their home because she does not live with them, referring especially to how disruptive the behavior of their Disfavored child is to the life of the entire family. For example, in the course of a discussion with one PLG parent, she interrupts me several times to repeat, calmly though in fact screaming discreetly to me: “But you don’t know what he’s doing! (3x) How can you say that when you don’t know our family? He sleeps all day and goes out all night! I give this child much more time and attention than the others!”
But please try to put aside your prejudice and listen carefully since, as we have said before, DOLF is founded on extensive empirical research over 40 years, 4 generations, and the major discovery of a new world where only children roam! Keep in mind that we are now delving into a dark, murky world of invisible, intangible emotions and feelings that defy the conventional wisdom and reality of adults, and have never before been tapped. But above all, always remember you have nothing to lose by applying DOLF, but on the contrary, possibly much to gain.
First and foremost, the Prime Love Giving parent should begin with self-convincing. By whatever means possible, this parent should come around to subscribing unequivocally to DOLF theory, its edicts, premises and promises, and keep its goals in mind through every moment of her/his interactions with the children. This is because the PLG is the sole owner and keeper of the LOVE that the problem child, and all the siblings in the family, are looking for and competing over. The PLG must believe that in the eyes of the children her/his LOVE is the prize they so avidly seek and vie for every moment of their lives. And this prized LOVE lies only and exclusively deep, deep and even deeper in the heart and mind of the PLG alone! It cannot be accessed by anyone but the parent her/himself, and as such, there is nobody in the world who can accomplish the task of changeover in this LOVE but the Prime parent her/himself. This is because there is no other LOVE in the world that the child, in their oblivion to the outside world, desires with all their might, but the LOVE that comes from this one, singular, lone person in the entire world, the Prime Love Giving parent! And yes, it is an enormous responsibility since, as we shall expound in another blog, the loss of this parent is the absolute ultimate loss in life.
As an incidental, this is precisely why efforts at therapy with children are bound to fail. The most common assumption of any therapist or therapeutic process is that of a movement of feeling, emotion, mental energy, and ultimately LOVE toward the therapist, a process referred to in psychoanalysis as “transference”. Given the attachment and devotion of the child to the PLG parent, and of that parent to the child, we now find out through our knowledge of DOLF that to expect a transference of love and emotion onto the therapist is not only an unrealistic but an impossible expectation, at least in the case of a child. In actual fact, any approach that attempts at transference of emotions will be absolutely rejected by the child, whose secret desire is to exclusively have the love and attention of the PLG. So what happens most often is that therapy, even with the most understanding therapist, arouses nothing but Anger, defiance, opposition and rejection. The child’s internal response to any such attempt, as it would be by any adult is: “Don’t try to replace my precious Loving parent, or try to come close to touching my precious feelings. If you do try I’ll hate you and do everything bad I can to make you upset and mad so you’ll go away!”
The PLG parent must bear in mind that by implementing DOLF technique, s/he (parent) may have to endure a learning curve which will probably not be to the parent’s liking, and initially seems not only distasteful, but contrary to their intuition about the child’s nature and what is the “right thing” to do about their behavior. In order to tweak their sense of sympathy, parents might try to visualize life from the child’s point of view. They might project their feelings to empathize with the child and keep in mind that a shift in LOVE, attention and indulgence is easier for themselves as an adult, as compared with the agony of the child who is so young and inexperienced in our world, and is feeling unloved, less loved than their sibling, or in effect less loved than they feel they are entitled to. Parents should keep in mind too that the end result of the exercise will be a new world of discovery and a new experience with a child they did not fully appreciate before, and that these measures will change their life and the life of their child forever. They should also consider the DOLF edict that a child lives in a separate world of emotion, instinct and fantasy, has no understanding of the way our adult world works, and is simply the victim of their childish view of life and those primitive instincts, which are as compelling as any reflex, and bear down and randomly exert their control over her/his behavior!
Once the process of self-convincing has taken hold about the validity and accuracy of the recommended course of action, the PLG should work hard to dig very deeply to ACTUALLY REVERSE HER/HIS FEELINGS! That is, this parent should swallow hard, put aside her/his pride, perhaps grit her/his teeth and begin to force themselves to turn their feelings around and try to LOVE the Disfavored child as much as, and in the same way as, the Favored child.. Picture this action like holding a big syringe that sucks back some of the LOVING feelings from the Favored child, and redirects or re-injects it toward the Disfavored one. Most often this parent, distasteful as it might seem, must learn to love the so-called ‘undesirable’ characteristics of the Disfavored child. They must work very hard, perhaps even with the help of a well trained therapist, to truly convince themselves to look on the bright side and appreciate their Disfavored child for who they are. After all, this is what the child is calling for and wants and needs, and isn’t it what every person wants – to be loved simply for who they are, without judgment??
Note too that this LOVE, the LOVE that is being redirected from the Favored to the Disfavored child, is ALWAYS comparative. That is, be aware that this re-directed LOVE is always to be compared with the LOVE that is currently being directed at the Favored child! In other words, “Do you love me as much as or more than, my sibling?” Rather than a strict re-direction then, it should be conceived partially at least as a flattening out or equalization of the LOVE resources. In fact, it can even safely go to the opposite extreme, where the LOVE is suddenly more strongly supportive of the Disfavored one. I have found through experience that there is little danger of rebellion on the part of the Favored child if this shift in loyalties takes place.
In one case, a woman who was PLG with two sons and one daughter admitted she Favored her oldest son, who was a pleasure though, she confided, not too ambitious. After some delving into her feelings with me, I confronted her with the insight that her son was her Favorite child and that she loved him more than her intelligent, lovely and high achieving middle daughter because he was of a gentle temperament and “we just get along better”. When I made her aware of this feeling, tears came to her eyes. She then consciously changed her attitude toward her two children. As of this revelation she was able to rectify the tension in her relationship with her daughter, as well as her daughter’s seemingly incurable crying spells, which was the reason for their consultation.
In another case, I told a woman whose alcoholic brother was physically harming their elderly PLG mother, that she, as her mother’s Favorite, was the main cause of her brother’s agitation, and unfortunately the thorn in his side. I gently explained that her brother was jealous of her because she was too close to their PLG mother and Favored by her, and that if she and her husband, both highly regarded by her mother, would tactfully “back off” and reduce their contact with her, this would give her Disfavored brother some room to make amends with their elderly mother, access his own warm feelings toward his mother, and fulfill his longing for his beloved mother’s love and attention. This abruptly ended his pattern of abuse toward his sweet and loving Prime parent.
In most “normal” families parents secretly lavish their LOVE and attention on their Favored child, while unwittingly showering the sibling, their other child, with Disfavor. This they do because they erroneously believe that one was born with a favorable, gentle and lovable disposition while the other has genes that, for some reason, induce her/him to behave badly and make everyone around them upset. However in this “normal” scenario, as the children grow up, a great changeover takes place. The Disfavored child, because of the way s/he had been treated by the family members throughout their childhood, develops a bit of a “thick skin” and the ability to mobilize, utilize and integrate Anger into their personality. With these more socially adaptive skills to confront the realities of social competition where friction and discord abound, the Disfavored child is better equipped to become successful by adult standards by pushing themselves fearlessly into the real world of conflict. Over time they develop a good occupation, financial success, marriage, establish a career, attract social acclaim, and of course, accumulate pots of money, a well recognized measure of success in the adult world! This impresses the parents, and being of the adult world with their socially-derived values at the forefront, they soon begin to turn their attention and affections toward the Disfavored child, the one who is more “successful” in adulthood and from an adult perspective achieves more of the desirable social accoutrements or indicators of success such as material goods, a good career or business, an organized family life, etc.
In this “normal” scenario, judgment is made on the basis of adult standards where the importance of money and social status replaces and now even supercedes by great margin their earlier dependence on judging the child by their manners, good nature, lovability, compliant behavior and easy-going and personable style – all characteristics which, though they were desirable during childhood while the family was growing up, are NO LONGER desirable in adulthood. They do not understand the reasons behind this Favored child’s reluctance to compete or achieve high social status or standards, that reason being that this child is not infused with a sufficient amount of the Anger that would have been necessary to attain success with strangers later on in the real world and in real life. In this way adults, by suddenly switching their values to suit the new circumstances when their children are grown, prove themselves in fact to be very fickle, often leaving the Favored child bewildered, or even abandoning her/him, a major breach of loyalty by any measure!
In two separate cases that follow this scenario, I encountered parents who loved and encouraged their Favored child to achieve a high academic standard, while the sibling failed to perform in school and was afforded very little of their affections, undergoing obvious discrimination and denigration throughout the early life of the family. However, when the Favored child declared s/he was going to follow an alternative lifestyle, although in both cases the parents seemed to accept the new lifestyle and did not outrightly reject their Favored child, they turned their loving feelings toward the Disfavored sibling, who soon got married, achieved a good career and a balanced home situation, and gave them grandchildren. This left the Favored child virtually abandoned, ashamed and resentful, and in both cases the Favored child wound up leaving the country to re-establish their lives far away.