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It's okay to have, but not play, favorites

Q: I have three kids. I love them all.

But one of them is my delight. I don't admit this to anyone. I try so hard not to favor her in any way. There are big age gaps between all three kids, so it's reasonably easy to hide. Plus, I'm seriously motivated.

In all my courtside, backstage, poolside, deck-chair conversations with other moms, no one talks about this. Is this the dirty little secret of parenting? Or are most people really fair in their affections?

A: I'm choosing against any answer that requires purity of "most people."

I do think it's common to feel and highly uncommon to speak. Not because I have insight into a statistically significant sampling of parents, or specific firsthand knowledge (of course!), but because it makes too much sense.

Take the feelings people do express freely: We prefer one parent to another, one sibling to others, one grandparent, aunt, colleague, neighbor, dog, barista, TV character to others. Are you friends with a couple? Then you like one half better. The earth is round, the sky is blue, and some people fit better than others.

Follow the logic, and having equal feelings for multiple children would be the affront to nature, and yet the reverse seems to earn that distinction.

It's obvious why: Children are different. There are many reasons, but it's mainly because there's no greater power than a parent's over a child. A good parent knows this, knows the weight of it, and wants to use it to uplift, not crush. And how better to crush Sam than to reveal her own mommy likes Pam better?

So, you summon the same enthusiasm for their different strengths. Your kids will figure it out regardless, but it will matter that they never heard it from you.

Timing is everything

Q: I'm 25. And a virgin. And I plan to stay a virgin until I'm married.

I'm not entirely sure why. It just feels appropriate. I'm not religious so it's seemed pretty out-of-the-blue, according to some exes.

I don't want to introduce myself "Hi, I'm not gonna have sex with you." But I also don't want to lead people on.

When do I let people in on my decision?

A: Bigger question): When do you let the people you date in on who you are?

I'd say there are as many answers to this as there are people, but, really, it changes with every pairing. You feel more open with some dates than with others, right? Conversations have lives of their own.

And since your virginity seems to have a life of its own (I find it oddly refreshing that you can't explain your own reasoning), I think scheduling your revelations in advance is a virtual guarantee of bad timing. So is letting your virginity define you.

You chose virginity by reading yourself. Now, choose to reveal it by reading the person and the moment. What you're looking for is something none of us reads with 100 percent accuracy: trust. We see it best, though, when we realize that's what we need.

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It's okay to have, but not play, favorites 03/17/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 4:46pm]
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