Suggested Interview Questions for
ELLEN WEBER LIBBY, PhD
The Favorite Child
1. In your book, The Favorite Child (Prometheus Books; January 2010), you introduce a cluster of characteristics rooted in growing up as the recipient of a parent’s preferential treatment. How did you come to develop your theory of the favorite child complex?
2. How common is favoritism in families?
3. Did you grow up as a favorite child?
4. Why do parents choose a favorite child? Is favoritism a conscious decision?
5. As you make clear in The Favorite Child, favoritism has many advantages. What are the major rewards to men and women who grew up as favorite children?
6. As you also make clear, favoritism has its disadvantages, too. What sort of risks and negative repercussions do adults who were raised as favorite children experience?
7. In The Favorite Child, you reveal how the potential dangers of favoritism hit close to home. Would you let us in on how your brother-in-law, Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, ultimately suffered from status as the family favorite?
8. How does favoritism in families tend to follow patterns?
9. How can an individual’s course through life as a favorite child, for better or worse, be set as early as infancy?
10. As you demonstrate in The Favorite Child, the relationship between parents determines the course and consequences of favoritism within a family. How can one parent’s selection of a favorite child be used as a weapon against the other parent?
11. In The Favorite Child, you focus on different permutations of favoritism. Is it generally more beneficial for a man to grow up as his father’s or his mother’s favorite son? What traits distinguish women who were raised as their mother’s favorite daughter?
12. How can favoritism affect the relationships between siblings? Do un-favored or overlooked children always suffer from the experience?
13. Can favoritism exist in families with one child? How about in single-parent families?
14. In The Favorite Child, you shed light on how families can thrive on emotionally healthy favoritism. Would you explain the practice of “fluid” favoritism?
15. What advice can you offer a parent with concerns about his or her partner’s expression of favoritism toward one child?
16. How will reading The Favorite Child help adults struggling with the legacy of being their father’s or their mother’s favorite?