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Parents playing favorites

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

There's new research discussing what happens when parents have a favorite child.

It's part of a brand-new study in the Journal of Child Development which shows that favoritism can have a negative impact on the entire family.

"I try not to, but - yea - you can't help it sometimes," said one Charlotte mom.

Even for this family,  it's an inevitable part of parenting, favoring one of your children over the other.

This mother, of two, admits to liking one child more than the other.

"I just lean towards him," she said. "There's a bond."

But now, a University of Toronto study reveals that a parent's preference for one child, especially when it's obvious, can have negative short and long term affects.

"The short term effects are you constantly have a child who's trying to measure up or live up to the favorite child," Dr. Mark Collins at Cotswold Medical Clinic.

"Long term - there can really be some consequences, when it comes to sibling rivalry."

And the consequences are not just for the child who is not favored.

"Family dynamics are strained, especially if you have one parent who is showing the favoritism," said Dr. Collins. "The spouse may actually be jealous of the favored child."

Favoritism can also affect the child getting all the attention.

"The worry is that they become entitled and sort of have a sense that the rules of life don't apply to them," said Dr. Collins

But he says having an inclination towards one child over another is not always a bad thing.

"I think comparison is normal and natural."

One Charlotte man agreed.

"I think by treating one of these siblings in a slightly favorite manner to teach a lesson was very effective," he said.

The key, Dr. Collins says, is to compare in an appropriate and loving way.

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