Playing favourites

Some parents claim that if you have more than one child, it’s possible to love them equally in spite of their different personalities, achievements and gender. I beg to differ. It’s impossible to love each child the same, I believe. One child will rub you the wrong way while another child will be as refreshing a breath of fresh air. Of course you love both children, but differently. However, you must treat them the same.

Unfortunately, some parents may unwittingly play favourites when planning their estate. Because their children may have different abilities and life situations parents may decide to distribute their wealth unequally. A successful child may inherit less than a less successful child- and may feel punished for being successful.

I come from a culture where the last male child automatically inherits the family home in the absence of a will. The assumption being older children had more time to sort out their accommodation. Thus, the older children are punished for being born earlier. Culture favours the last born son.

I also know of parents who plan to leave the majority of their wealth to their sons and little, if anything to their daughters. The reason being that sons keep the money in the family, as if daughters are not family too.

Some parents may give more to one child as a means of rewarding that child for looking after them in their old age. The other children may feel punished for living far away from the parent and therefore being unable to help in the care giving. 

Some parents may want to punish a child a who they may view as irresponsible for example, taking drugs, unwillingness to find a job or go to college.

A child with a family might get more than a child without a family. However, the one without a family might feel that they are being penalised for not having children.

A child might also get more wealth because he was disabled since birth, but some estate planners have discovered that siblings of a child disabled from birth may see this as unfair. Estate planners also agree that that most children will link differences in amount of inheritanceto differences in amount of affection that their parents have for them.

No matter how justified the parents feel in distributing their wealth, doing so unequally is bound to burn down sibling relations long after the parents are gone.

To keep the peace in the family, some estate planning experts suggest that parents sit down with their children and give reasons as to why their distributing the estate in a particular way.

Treating your children unfairly may result in strained relationsfor generations to come.

Every parent should remember H. Jackson Brown Jr’s words, “Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.”

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Do you favour one child over the other?

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