Hi Dr. Laura,
I grew up in a household where my parents absolutely played favorites and did nothing to hide it. There were 3 of us each separated by 4 years. The oldest, my sister, was never treated fairly by my folks. It was sad even as a child to see that. As a result, she ran away at 15 years old. She did eventually come back a few years later, earn her GED and go to college and complete it with a bachelor's degree. However, even now in her 50s, she is affected by our childhood.
My brother, who was the middle child, was the golden child in my mom's eyes. He could do no wrong. He grew pot on the roof, he did drugs, drank alcohol and was arrested several times as a youth, yet he still could do no wrong and my mother always bailed him out no matter what. Today, he is a 50-year-old narcissist who has alienated himself from everyone including me and my 4 children.
I, being the youngest, got the special attention from my dad. My mom hated the attention and would not speak to me for days at a time.
Needless to say, as adults, how our parents played favorites played a huge role in how we are as adults. I am the only one who had kids and I make darn sure never to play favorites. My sister never wanted kids because she saw childhood as very unhappy. My brother never had kids nor married because he grew into a very self-centered narcissistic adult. I'm fairly certain it all came about from how my parents treated us.