4-7-11 - The Favorite Child Debate and an Interview with Susan Henderson

In case you missed it...

Today Rosie and the crew were at the Sirius studios in New York City!  Rosie said she couldn't go to Zumba on Wednesday because she had to be at the hospital with Wyatt who was still recovering from heart surgery.  She asked Vicki, the caller from Nyack who invited her, to call back in so they could reconnect and go to Zumba together next week.

Rosie is currently reading Ashley Judd's book All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir.  Deirdre said she's heard there's a lot of controversy surrounding the book because it's rumored that Naomi and Wynonna are very angry about her claims in the book.  Deirdre has heard they wished Ashley had come to them and talked about her claims rather than splash it on the pages of a book and make money off it.  Rosie said all those rumors about the Judds being upset could be complete bullshit.  And she said Ashley has the right to tell her own story because it's her life from her perspective.  Rosie said the book is really good and that Ashley talks about the "myth" of the Judds.  Rosie said she's finding it to be a fascinating read.

Rosie also watched Barbara Eden on Joy Behar last night!  She loved the interview and immediately ordered Barbara Eden's new book Jeannie Out of the Bottle.  And while she was at it she ordered Tina Fey's book Bossypants!  Deirdre said she often has a hard time convincing publishers that Rosie won't have them on her show until she reads the book.  She said a lot of talk show hosts don't read the books of the celebrities they interview.  Rosie said she thought it would be too hard to have a conversation with someone if you didn't read what they were coming on to promote.

Rosie also watched Russell Brand on Piers Morgan last night who was promoting the remake of Arthur.  ("Don't you just hate Perry's wife?"  You won't get that joke if you haven't seen the original Arthur as many times as I have...)  Rosie had no clue who Russell Brand was! (?!?!?!)  Then she saw him last night on Piers Morgan and found him charming, honest, and self-deprecating.  She really enjoyed him!  He's been in a lot of films she hasn't seen and she plans on catching up on some of his work.   

Russell on Piers Morgan

And just because I think he's hilarious...the trailer to Get Him To The Greek.  

Rosie spent the evening at the hospital with Tracy and was happy to report Wyatt is doing well!  Though it is very sad because Wyatt isn't very verbal and can't really express when he's in pain.  Tracy has been sleeping on a fold-out chair in the room and is very tired.  Rosie absolutely loves the nurses and the doctors.  She said it's hard for her to get over how talented they are. 

Rosie watched a little of American Idol last night.  Deirdre loved James Durbin's performance last night and how emotionally accessible he is.  Rosie agreed.  Bobby saw a HUGE flaw in Pia's performance.  He said she sang excellent but she just tip-toed around the stage.  Bobby said he loves her voice but Pia just walked and performed like she was singing a ballad.  Jacob annoyed Janette "beyond redemption" last night because he said something like if he is in the bottom three it won't be because he didn't sing the song well, it will be because people in America can't look at themselves in the mirror.  Janette was totally annoyed.  Everyone loved Haley's performance last night too. 

The staff then discussed the theory that parents tend to favor one child over others.  In Rosie's experience she feels like it's the oldest child who frequently gets favored.  Pete felt strongly about this topic and feels like it's okay as long as parents are truthful about it with their children.  Pete said he was the youngest and not his parents' favorite.  He then talked about how much he loves his parents (of course) but said this is how he perceived his childhood.  To him, it always felt like anything his brother did they attended as a family and anything he wanted to do they would tell him, "Why don't you go off and do that then."  He wouldn't get the same fanfare or attention as his brother did.  Pete also said his brother has a magnetic and outgoing personality unlike himself who you have to get to know before you like him.  Pete said anytime he addressed this issue with his parents they either blew it off as untrue or admitted to it sarcastically.  Pete is telling his girls from an early age that he will have a different relationship with each of them.  He and his 2.5 year old have battled a lot in her life and he tells her if she wants to have fun, have people do things for her, have a happy life, please react to them in  different way!  Rosie reminded Pete that's she's just 2.5 years old!  Janette recommended Pete read The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller.  Bobby remembered when his sister was two years old and the only way they could get her to do anything they wanted was to tell her to do he opposite.  Pete said his daughter Irene has helped him understand his own childhood better.  He said he now understands as a parent that how a child acts can change the way parents react to them.  Rosie said we often recreate the same household we grew up in.

Rosie strongly felt her mother favored her oldest brother and Rosie admitted that she sometimes does that.  Rosie was "Chelsea" who is always trying to get attention from her mom.  Rosie thinks in general mothers favor first borns because they're the being that led you into Oz from black and white to a land of color.  The day the first baby comes into your life is the day your entire world shifts and everything becomes either before or after you became a parent.  When siblings arrive, it's different because you were already in the parent zone.  Rosie has always tried to apologize to Chelsea about this but explain to her that she felt the same way about her mom.  But it wasn't true because Rosie knows you love each of your children the same no matter how it appears.  Rosie said she's trying to work on it.

Rosie took a call from a listener who has two children who first favored her son because of all his medical problems at birth.  He grew out of it but she was always overly concerned about him.  Then at 16, her daughter started to have seizures and her focus completely changed to her.  Rosie said when a child has special medical needs, it's definitely understandable that one child gets favored. 
Rosie took a call from a listener who was the favorite though he never knew it!  The caller's siblings all thought he was their mother's favorite and he said it's affected his relationships with his siblings his entire life.   

Rosie took another call from a listener who admitted to favoring her youngest because he was her last baby.  She took another call from a listener who loves all her children the same.  The caller has a daughter and a stepdaughter who came into her life when she was three years old.  Rosie said there's a difference between becoming a step-parent to a three year old and becoming a step-parent to a teenager.  In Rosie's life, Tracy's kids have adapted well to having a step-parent but Rosie's hasn't adapted as well.  But aside from Wyatt and Vivi, they were all adopted and all the children have that in common.  

Rosie took a call from a listener who was not the favorite growing up and said she can't even imagine having a favorite child.  She said it's unconscionable to her.  She has 3 adopted children and one biological child and it seems odd and very wrong to her to ever favor one over the other.  Rosie admitted it's a difficult subject to address but she said it exists whether we want it to or not.  Rosie said her girlfriend Tracy seems much more connected to Wyatt than the other kids.  Rosie said it could be because he's the one with the most needs or it could be because she's the one Tracy gave birth to.  Rosie doesn't know as she's never given birth to a child.  Rosie said she understands it's a taboo topic but it happens.  She finds it interesting that people don't always want to talk about it too.  Janette said she was definitely her father's favorite but she was the most like her father in both personality and looks.  They shared that connection.  Bobby said he thought the word "favorite" was the wrong word and said in his case, he felt like he was the "experiment," not the favorite.  He said his parents used him to learn about how to parent and that's how they based all their rules for his siblings.  Rosie said Parker may be the favored child but he wouldn't agree to that if you asked him.  Parker always feels like Rosie is "all over him" and felt the rules for him growing up were much stricter than they are for his siblings.   

Rosie said they came up with the discussion topic because of an article they all read about favoring one child over the other.  Apparently, people attacked the writer for even admitting it exists!  Lastly Rosie said you love all your children the same but sometimes there are certain kids you bond more with.  

Rosie wanted to know what was going on with the government shutdown and what it means for the country.  Pete and Janette explained that should the government shut down certain workers won't show up and certain government employees won't get paid.  Rosie was surprised and disgusted that people are now looking to Donald Trump for answers!   Bobby doesn't think Donald really wants the Presidency, he just think he wants the publicity.  Rosie doesn't think Donald will run for President because he'd have to disclose all his finances and tax returns.  And apparently he was on the Today Show this morning and talked about Rosie (again).  He said Rosie started it, he finished it and she's glad he finished it.  So, in other words Trump is #winning with Charlie Sheen.  Janette said she heard Lou Dobbs say the Democrats and the Republicans are really terrified the government might shut down because Americans will realize how little the government actually does!  Janette loves Lou Dobbs.  Rosie said that's like the first time you realize that your parents aren't always right and don't have all the answers. 

Rosie and the staff discussed the 7.1 aftershock that Japan had again today.  They further talked about the YouTube video of the Japanese Mayor asking for food and aid in an area of Japan that has been evacuated. No help or food was getting to the people.  Aid has since arrived and their situation has improved but Rosie and the staff talked about how tragic the entire situation is.  Rosie said it seems like a tragedy that won't ever end.  

And Janette had really good news!  Janette's friends Kate and Tanya work for Steven Colbert.  Apparently he is very philanthropic and told the staff they could each nominate their favorite charity and he would pick one and donate $3000 to it.  After all the nominations were in Steven decided to give $3000 to EACH of the charities nominated!  And the best part is Kate and Tanya picked Medical Missions for Children!  Janette was so excited!  Janette also said she'll be traveling to the Ukraine the first week in May to help MMFC repair cleft lips and burns.  She said can't wait to go.   

Rosie then introduced Susan Henderson, author of Up From the Blue who was in the studio for the interview.  Rosie said there was such a distinctive voice of the young girl in the book it reminded her of To Kill A Mockingbird.  Susan said she's always been drawn to books with young narrators telling grown up problems.  She never wrote a novel before but she's been writing for years.  Writing was Susan's secret as she was a stay-at-home mom.  She said she didn't want people to know what she was writing about maybe because she was worried she would hurt or offend people in her life.  For a while that kept her from writing.  Finally, a friend said to her, "Sue, at age 40 you're allowed to own your own stories."  Rosie, had that same experience.  She said she wrote two books Find Me and Celebrity Detox: (The Fame Game) which were about her memories of her life through her own perspective.  Rosie said her siblings sometimes didn't like that her version was the one going out in to the world.  But Rosie said she would always support her siblings if they would also like to write a book and tell their own version of their lives as kids.   

Up From the Blue is a story about a little girl whose mother dies, or so she thinks.  It takes place in the 1970's as this bipolar housewife goes missing.  The father and the daughter go searching for her.  Susan said it's a dark story full of grownup issues told through the eyes of a child.  The little girl's obsession with finding her mom takes her to places that turn her world upside down.  Rosie said as a daughter who lost her mother as a child it was so painful for her to read.  Rosie said in seventh grade she would be playing basketball and think she saw her mother sitting in the bleachers.  Rosie said she used to have a fantasy that her mother ran away because she couldn't deal with the stresses of raising five young kids and dream she would come back.  Susan said she wrestled with issues that she had in the back of her head when she was writing this and she realized she was working out shame, unresolved grief and unexpressed love.  In writing this book Susan realized how much she was hurting from avoiding all of those things.  Since the book's release Susan said she's engaging more but still feels very vulnerable.  Susan said she's realized she's much more truthful on paper than she is in real life.  Rosie said she feels the same way. 

Rosie compared the book the the The Glass Castle: A Memoir and asked Susan if her mom had read it.  Susan said she sent her mom the first copy she received of it and nervously awaited her response.  Some time passed and then she got a letter from her mom which next to her kids being born is the most important thing that's ever happened to her.  Her mother loved the book and found it compassionate.  She felt heard and warm and that she took good care of the story and all the characters in it.  Susan said the letter from her mom was healing and unexpected.  Susan said her family wasn't one to talk about feelings and lived in a way that secrecy was praised and not feeling was rewarded.  Susan said she works on changing this with her own children but admitted it's a process.  Susan said she tells her children she loves them but says it's still hard to say the words.  Rosie said her family wasn't an "I love you family" - they were raised that they don't air their dirty laundry in public.  Rosie encouraged Susan to tell her kids she loves them and to practice if she needs to.  She said the more you do it the easier it becomes.  

Susan said the last chapter of the book was like a lecture to herself.  She has struggled all her life with self-hatred and thoughts of suicide but in the last chapter she writes about the high cost of that.  The message is one they were talking about on yesterday's program which is that we shouldn't define someone else by the worst moment of their lives and we shouldn't do that to ourselves either.  Susan said having kids has been a good way to shake herself of the narcissism that self-hatred can bring.  She said when you have kids every single day can be filled with laughter, a temper tantrum, tears and joy.  She realized it was foolish to judge one of her days as a bad day just because there were tears that day because when you tuck your kids in at night, you love them for all the good and the bad, it doesn't matter.  So if that's what we allow for our kids that's what we should allow for ourselves.     

Rosie recommended the book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristin Neff.  Kristin is a friend of Rosie's who, along with her husband, filmed the documentary The Horse Boy.   Kristin wrote a book about self-compassion and what a disservice it is when we don't have compassion for ourselves.

Rosie thanked Susan for her interview and told her she thought the book was very brave and moving.  Rosie said she hopes they make it into a film too.  She recommended all her listeners read Up from the Blue.

Rosie said she's taking Parker to look at a military school on Friday.  She said Parker really wants to go though she doesn't understand why!   

The staff discussed Wil Wheaton's blog about being violated by an airport screener.   Wil declined to go into an x-ray machine and was patted down instead.  He felt the search was overly invasive and a molestation.  He said the screener put his hands in his pants and made contact with his genitals!   He feels it's in violation of the Constitution but feels like there's nothing he can do about it.   

Bobby wanted to know what the alternative is.  Janette said terrorists will just find another way to get bombs on airplanes so all these invasive procedures are really not helping.  Janette thinks we should profile suspects instead of searching grandmothers and babies before they board airplanes.  Pete suggested we have a more comprehensive foreign policy that doesn't breed hatred and animosity overseas!  Rosie then took some calls on the topic.  One caller makes her living on a plane and feels safer with this process in place until we get our foreign policy right.  Bobby totally agreed with the caller.   

Just then, Howard Stern walked by their studio!  Rosie said Janette nearly fell out of her chair.  Rosie said she silently pointed to Janette and then she pointed to Howard's "hoo-hoo" and then she pointed to Janette again!  (This all because Janette has professed her love of Howard and promised him "unlimited head" should they ever hook up!)  Rosie said Howard made a "gesture" as if he was all about receiving Janette's offer!   

Rosie closed the show.

and that's what you missed - kw


  1. "Don't you just hate Perry's wife?" Hahaha :-) That whole scene is my favorite part in Arthur! Makes me laugh every time! Made me laugh just reading your comment too! xoxo, Cheryl

  2. I just wanted to respond on the 'favorite child' discussion with the phrase "There's always a cost". What I mean by that is that my parents have told me [as an adult] that I AM--present tense--the favorite child. What that means for me is: I get all the responsibility of taking care of my parents when they need it and my sister gets to get away with acting out, sending a card on mother's/father's day and not showing up because she lives too far away.

    And although I am starting to buck the family rules, I'm still too much of a chickensh*t to post my name. Thanks for reading.

  3. Great show today....I just started reading Up From the Blue last night and shouldn't have listened since they gave no "spoiler alert" lol.
    Re: favoritism, our OLDER son often says we favor his younger brother. Of course I was totally involved in 1st son's every breath and move. But he's right and the reason is because he is difficult and his brother "easier", though both are basically good and totally loving teenagers. Love them both beyond all words, but favoring one over the other doesn't mean we love one more. Just appreciate how cooperative one is. But glad to be reminded how this could be painful for the other, regardless of his behavior at times. Mom's guilt, oi vey.
    And, hysterical when Howard walked by, they could barely contain themselves while the flight attendant was on the line, poor woman. Funny.

  4. Loved Rosie's retweet today regarding Bill Cosby's take on Trump: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/42471942/ns/today-today_people/

    I agree with Pete that changing foreign policy in order to improve safety is important. Just as important though, is for airlines to pay their Pilots and crew better. I worry more about an over-tired pilot, or a poorly maintained aircraft than I do about someone purposely trying to take down a plane.

    Regarding the favourite child, I knew someone once who had two siblings, and all three of the kids (now adults) each thought that they were the favourite child. I would like to meet their parents. How wonderful to have each feel so cherished.

    Alison (aka Alderella)

  5. Re the favorite child: I grew up in a family of 10 children. My mother constantly stated that old tired line about loving all her children the same. Too bad the children did not feel that. I asked her once why she had so many children when it was obvious to eveyone that she she only cared for three of them. She replied like a programmed robot - I love all my children the same.

    Mother is passed over now and all her children can't stand each other. When the parents were alive we all played the happy family game but now that they are gone, we have given it up completely with the result that I have 6 siblings left and countless nieces and nephews but communicate with none of them - sad to say I am happy with this arrangement as my family is very emotionally stunted - a result I believe of never being allowed to be emotionally honest and having to put up with the stupid games parents play.

    I admire Ashley Judd for writing her book and freeing herself from her emotionally stunted family. Air the dirty laundry Ashley, and make them face facts, it is your only chance for any happiness. I was going to watch her mom and W. on the View but gave it up after a few seconds - too much like my family and then there was that dress Sherri S. had on - did she go to the pologmy compound for the latest fundamentalist fashions - that dress was a horror on it won and made her look like she lost her mind.

  6. "Don't you hate Perry's wife?"!!!! I worked at a movie multiplex for 4 years, and that is still my all-time favourite line.

    Alison (aka Alderella)

  7. I'm the 3rd of 7 children. We had a clear favorite in our family because she was very sickly as a baby. All of us siblings hated her (strong words but we did). We tormented her through our entire childhood. I have such HUGE regret about that now. She is truly the most wonderful person you could ever meet - but with very low self esteem that keeps her in bad relationships. I blame myself totally for her self esteem issues and I know the rest of the siblings do too. We can't take it back though. Our entire family is very close today and even though we live far away we meet at Mom's place every year. Dad passed some years ago.

    I guess my point is that kids know who the favorite is and they do hold jealous feelings. I love the story above where everyone thought they were the favorite. That is so wonderful!

    Thanks Kelly!

    Dennis - Fort Lauderdale

  8. yet another reason i truly believe i was meant to have twins...no risk of favoring anyone! :)

  9. Great recap as always. Grateful that Wyatt's surgery went well. But I was confused by Rosie's remarks about the kids responding to step parents??? Tracey and Rosie do not live together, so was she talking about her children and KElli's new partner? I don't think that you tell your children that a new parnter is a 'step-parent' until you get married/civil unioned-

  10. ok, let me preface this post by emphasizing that i just love this radio show and i love this recap blog, and i’m going to be very sad when the show (or this incarnation of it) comes to an end in a few months...


    what the hell, janette? i love ya, but lou dobbs?! xenophobic lou dobbs? really? (he’s reading from the jan brewer playbook, or perhaps it’s vice versa...)

    and then you go on to imply – that the government doesn’t actually do very much. oh if only rosie had been watching rachel maddow & others on msnbc this week, she could’ve corrected this erroneous view, msnbc has been pointing out, that a shutdown will mean that hundreds of thousands of government workers will be without pay, and many services – from the postal services to tax rebates – will not actually be available if this shutdown occurs. don’t follow that blowhard lou dobbs, folks, just watch – if a shutdown occurs, folks will *very* quickly realize just how much the government *does* do.

    here’s an article from huffpo:

    and janette – again, sorry, i do *love* you and am even on the ‘get janette a sirius radio show’ facebook page – but i wasn’t happy with your description of jacob lusk’s comments on ‘idol’ wednesday night. yes, he did say that if he was in the bottom three that it would be because people weren’t looking at themselves in the mirror – i can understand how you might be annoyed by it, but at least understand what he meant, which was that the previous four voted off (the first four of the finalists) were all people of color (all females, too). he was pointing out a trend, and also the producers did him no favors by including that clip. at any rate, it’s important to get the context for jacob’s statement. i voted for him just to counter those who i knew would be put off. (yet right now i’m basically rooting for haley. james is ok, and i think he’s sweet and all, but as a die-hard adam lambert fan, i find him to be adam-lite vocally.)

    on a lighter note, kelly love all of your asides, but especially in this entry your note about trump & charlie sheen, snap!

    p.s. agree with allison, airlines should pay pilots and crew more! they are providing such essential services, and safety should trump the relentless pursuit of ever more profits!

  11. I have to admit - yesterday was the first day I ever tuned in to your show, Rosie, and now I am hooked. The reason I listened was because you had my awesome friend, Susan Henderson, on your show and I thought your interview and comments were brilliant. And I am over the moon that you loved Up from the Blue. I think it was easily one of the best books of 2010 and maybe one of the best books ever, and I hope your show will bring Susan a whole new audience who will report back as to how they felt about this very special book.

  12. Hi, Rosie,
    I loved your interview with Susan Henderson and her novel, Up from the Blue. It tied in beautifully with your discussion about kids and favoritism, and how our perception of our parents, and how parents treat us impacts our self-esteem as kids and as adults.

    The idea that Susan put forth about self-hatred as a form of narcissism really got me thinking, summed up by your amazing insight--not to define someone by their lowest moments! Wow. That was a gift.

    And, I love your honesty and your willingness to talk about issues that scare us.

    Sending healing light to your step-son.

    Jessica Keener

  13. Letter I wrote to Anti abortion voters:
    I understand why you do not want to pay for abortions but you will ramp up debts funding war against Iraq and Afghanistan. Where else will you get the human fodder for your war? I understand you do not want to pay for abortions but you do not want to fund daycare or school for the children. I hear something heroic like “pull yourself up by your boot straps, I did!” I understand you do not want to pay for abortions but you are perfectly willing to build prisons to put these underfed, undereducated and underemployed children. There are so many difficult decisions for our children but go ahead and make it more difficult. We will bear the burden of their pain.