Children are intuitive. They can tell when something is wrong when you're upset with or mistreating them.
Don't be surprised if your kids can tell if you have a favorite child. One group of siblings can read their parents' child preferences because of how much strife it creates on a popular Reddit thread in the Am I the A**hole Subreddit.
I (24F) have a 26 yo sister and a 23yo brother (we'll call him Jake). I also have a 12yo brother (we'll call him Ryan), and he's the reason for this conflict. When Jake was a kid, doctors didn't think he would make it to twelve.
Jake wasn't just the baby of the family but also the only boy. Our parents wanted a boy and always said it was good that Jake was a boy because they didn't want to have a fourth kid.
Ryan was born when Jake was at his sickest, and Jake knew Ryan was supposed to be his replacement. Jake has been in remission for a decade and always hated Ryan. Our parents don't dote on Ryan as they did/do Jake. It's evident to me that they regret him. They are good parents to Ryan when Jake isn't around, but when he is, they ignore him, so Jake doesn't get upset.
On Thanksgiving, Jake said he was thankful for his parents and sisters. Ryan was upset that he wasn't counted, and our parents ended up telling him off and sending him to his room. Ryan has been miserable ever since. He keeps asking me why Jake hates him.
I decided he needed to know the truth so he knew it wasn't anything he did. He was sad after I told him, but he thanked me for being honest.
Last night Ryan confronted our parents. They are furious with me. They demanded that I call Ryan and tell him what I said was a mean prank. They said I had no right to tell anyone their business or make up horrible conclusions. I didn't make it up. I know the truth. Am I the a**hole for telling it to Ryan?
I confronted my parents about the possibility many of you brought up. They denied it, but I don't know. A lot of what you said makes perfect sense. I didn't get anything out of them either way.
Also, several of you think Ryan wasn't a planned pregnancy. Multiple comments raised the possibility, so I'm not going to answer them individually. Ryan was a planned pregnancy.
Mom got on fertility meds (she was 39 and thought she would have difficulty conceiving) and she bought the pregnancy tests in a pack of six, like she was planning on needing to take a test several times. They were not surprised in any way when she got pregnant.
NTA (Not the A**hole). Your brother deserves to know what happened in the family before he was born. You just behaved like a big sister. Besides, it's better that he knows it's not his fault or anything that he did, which can lead to a lot of unnecessary self-hatred that he absolutely doesn't deserve.
NTA. Now that it is in the open, your parents have the option of correcting their behavior instead of simply emotionally torturing poor Ryan.
NTA. He was going to figure it out at some stage if not already, at least you didn't gaslight him into thinking he did something wrong and he will respect you for it. Jake is an A**hole and needs to grow up alongside your parents.
OP added an update:
Also, several of you think Ryan wasn't a planned pregnancy. Ryan was a planned pregnancy. Mom got on fertility meds (she was 39 and thought she would have difficulty conceiving), and she bought the pregnancy tests in a pack of six like she was planning on needing to take a test several times. They were not surprised in any way when she got pregnant.