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Golden Child Chronicles: Navigating the Pitfalls of Being the Favorite or Non-Favorite

Have you ever wondered why parents always seem to have a favorite child? 🤔 Maybe it's because one kid is just naturally funnier, smarter, or cuter than the other. But what if I shared that the "favorite child" may not be the favorite child at all? What if the illusion of favoritism was simply a simple case of relatedness? This concept is formally known as enmeshment.

Very Well Health states, "Enmeshment occurs when family members are emotionally reactive to one another and wholly intertwined in an unhealthy way." According to author Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD, writer of "Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, "through this enmeshed relationship, they create a sense of certainty, predictability, and security that relies on the reassuring familiarity of each person playing a comfortable role for the other." As reassuring as this may sound for the favored sibling, enmeshment is just as detrimental for them. Per Gibson, [enmeshment] traps the idealized favorite child in an ironclad role, so that child isn't experiencing any true emotional intimacy."

Effects of Enmeshment

Enmeshed individuals may struggle to develop a strong sense of self and find it challenging to make decisions independently of a family member(s). This co-dependency can blur relationship roles, causing the individuals to assume responsibilities or identities that are not reflective of their true desires or abilities.

On the other hand, family members outside the enmeshment may develop independent qualities and learn to make hard and pointed decisions independently. However, in the interim, they develop feelings of loneliness and abandonment. They begin to second-guess their worth and feel inadequate to earn their parent's and/or family members' attention.

Navigating Enmeshed Relationships

Being in an enmeshed relationship can feel suffocating and overwhelming, but there are ways to heal and find your own sense of self again. One important step is setting boundaries and creating space between yourself and the other person. This can involve taking time for self-care, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family. Developing your interests and hobbies separate from the enmeshed relationship is also essential. By focusing on your growth and well-being, you can reclaim your independence and sense of identity.

Surviving Outside of the Enmeshmed Relationship

Being the favorite can bring a sense of validation and acceptance, but it's important to remember that we are all unique individuals with our own strengths and qualities. To survive not being the favorite, it's crucial to focus on self-love and self-acceptance. Embrace your uniqueness and celebrate your accomplishments, regardless of whether others recognize them. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who appreciate you for who you are, and remember that others' opinions do not determine your worth. Everyone's journey is different, and comparison is the thief of joy. Stay true to yourself and keep pushing forward, knowing that external validation does not define your worth.


Whether you are inside or outside the enmeshment, navigating through the journey can lead to validation pathways while forging deeper connections with yourself and cultivating enriching relationships with others, creating a tapestry of fulfillment and authenticity.

Breaking the Silence: Have You Experienced Favoritism in Your Sibling Dynamics? Share Your Story and Strategies for Navigating Complex Family Relationships.

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Apr 18
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