-- When it comes to favoritism, most parents try to remain neutral, but others, like Lauren Hartmann, admit that they do have favorites.
Hartmann, a married mother of two, says her 3-year-old daughter is her favorite child, and in a blog post titled “I Don’t Feel Guilty for Having a Favorite Child” she explained her feelings.
“Despite the immense love I have for both of my children, I couldn't help but feel like the bond with my daughter, my firstborn, was different, stronger,” Hartmann, a blogger for Babble.com, wrote about two months ago.
“I definitely had those fears that my heart wouldn't have enough room to love another child,” Hartmann, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, said in an interview with ABC News.
She added: “There's something so special about your first child … we really had a strong bond.”
The 30-year-old admits that she was initially ashamed when she first realized she was growing closer to her daughter.
“It feels awful to think could I have a favorite,” she said, but noted that having a favorite didn’t mean she didn’t love her son, who is 10 months old. “I love them both but I have had more time to get to know her and develop that bond and my bond with my son is going to grow.”
Even though she may have a favorite today, she says she knows the roles may change in the future.
“I think that over the years I'll probably just connect with my children each in different ways. Maybe during the teenage years when my daughter is really challenging and emotional I may find myself gravitating more to my son … relationships are forever changing and I feel like children are no exception to that,” she said.
“I think with this it kind of depends where these kids are in their lives,” said Powers. “This mom has gotten to know her older child a little bit better. If the child is at an age you relate to more, you find that they might be your “favorite child,” but it may be different next week.”
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology says that "In families, the perception that parents have a favorite is linked with the less-favored children being twice as likely to use alcohol, cigarettes or drugs."
Powers offered advice to parents who may be tackling this issue, and what they should do if one child feels like they are loved less than their siblings.
“I think perception is key,” she explained. “You want to make sure one kid doesn’t feel like their parent doesn’t like them more than the other, because that can lead to some issues—sibling rivalry, their relationship with their parents. But it’s really important to take some time to make sure each kid feels special.”
One-on-one time with each child is important so that “each child feels like it’s their time to shine,” Powers added. “If you have a kid that has a baseball game one week, that kid is kind of the star of the family, the next week someone may have a ballet recital, and even if they don’t have an event, it’s really important to carve out that time.”
More than anything, “It doesn’t need to fancy. It doesn’t need to be expensive,” she said. “It can be lunch, or just a quick walk around the block.”
Editor’s Note: Babble.com and ABC News are both owned by The Walt Disney Company.