Mom Plays Favorites with Her Kids: What Would You Do?

What would you do if you saw a mother blatantly favoring one child?

March 17, 2011 — -- In the News: Most parents will probably deny it, but their children certainly feel it: favoritism by a parent. It's a controversial phenomenon and often taboo, but it's been the subject of books like the "The Favorite Child," and, more recently, of mommy blogs and parenting websites. Studies suggest that in at least one-third of families, parents favor one child over the other for reasons that include intelligence, behavior, birth order, personality, appearance or gender. The consequences of favoritism can be long-lasting; researchers have found that experiencing favoritism in childhood can lead to aggression, depression and anxiety in adults.

The Scenario: What would you do if you witnessed a mother blatantly favoring one child over the other? To find out, we set up our "What Would You Do?" hidden cameras at Inmotion, a clothing store in the Long Island town of Merrick, N.Y. We hired actors to play the children and the mother to see how people react to this very real phenomenon. Will anyone confront the biased mother? How would people respond if we swap our unfavored daughter with a son?

What They Said:

"One is more special than the other."

- our actress posing as the mother

"It's not fair…That you favor one more than the other. It's not about the looks, it's what's inside the heart."

- a father who confronted the biased mother

"He's crying because he's telling me that he is not perfect, but his sister is."

- a teacher who defended the unfavored boy