So, which one of your kids is your favorite?

AH HA!!! YOU ANSWERED ME, DIDN’T YOU, YOU HORRIBLE PARENT YOU!!!!

Yeah, you have a favorite.  Go ahead.  Confess it.  Nobody here is going to judge you, because they do too.

It’s hard not to.  You played baseball in high school and excelled in chemistry.  You have one kid who plays baseball and loves chemistry and one kid who plays oboe and loves English–especially Old English poetry.  It is not real hard to guess which kid you’re going to like.  It is perfectly natural to gravitate towards people that share our likes, our dislikes, and our passions.

But where do you draw the line? At what point does that become favoritism? It’s a fight we all fight, and it’s something that you have to constantly monitor.

At the end of the day, there is one vital component to it all, though.  It was the same in G.I. Joe as it is in Alcoholics Anonymous–acknowledgement.  Knowing and recognizing that you have a problem is half the battle.

Sit back and look at your relationships.  Liking one kid better than another is actually not so bad, in as much as you LOVE your children equally.  But how do you do that? Let me approach it two ways:

1. Why is your favorite kid your favorite? What makes them pop into your head first? How do you treat them? Do they get any preferential treatment because of what they like?

Also, sometimes we find ourselves being harder on the favorite child, because we understand them the best. Often, they are the child that is most similar to us, so we find ourselves second guessing every step they take.  It is important to keep in mind that this is their life, and no matter how similar they are to us, they are not us. They are a unique individual and not a port for us to live our lives vicariously through.

2. Look at your other children individually and consider why each one of them, again, individually, did not immediately come to mind.  Examine each child on his or her own merits.  Each one of those children (assuming they are Human–and it you landed some Vulcan or Klingon kids, let me know how) has SOMETHING in common with you.  It is just about inevitable that you share something.  Find that something and capitalize on it. When you share a passion with someone, it is natural to want to spend more time with that individual.  If you can find at least one passion that you share with each of your children, it will help to keep you in balance.

You played trombone.  You kid plays trumpet. You know what? They’re both BAND instruments! You played baseball.  Your daughter plays volleyball. You know what?  They’re both SPORTS! Find these common denominators and you’ll find yourself connecting.  When you share a passion, you are sharing part of yourself, and at the end of the day, that’s one of the most important things a parent can do.

It is a form of immortality. In fact, it is the closest thing to immortality most of us can hope to find–that connection with the future.  Share your passions–share the things that make you an individual.  Share them with the ones who are most like you, because they will continue your legacy. Share them with the ones least like you, because they will be the ones to help the world understand you–as they understood you.