September 2011

Favoritism Is Hardwired, Even If Parents Won't Admit It

An overwhelming number of parents admit some favoritism among their children, and many of the others are faking it too.

It's difficult, as a parent, to know that many of the feelings and thoughts I have toward my daughter are chemical reactions; biological impulses honed through evolution to protect and support my own replicated DNA. However, a recent TIME article by John Kluger stipulates that these same tendencies are what make almost all parents favor one child over another. Parents are biologically conditioned to favor their biggest, healthiest children because they are more likely to be reproductively successful, passing on the family genes to the next generation. In the modern world, we may not favor simply the biggest, or more athletic children of our brood, but we still have an evolutionary impulse to play favorites. "There isn't a parent on the planet," Kluger writes, "that would admit to favoring a beautiful child over a less beautiful one, but scientists aren't constrained by the same pretense of impartiality."

New Parents to Childless Friends: Translator Needed

Entering the world of parenthood, we sometimes forget the language of our native land.


A young father attempts to talk to a friend while he's changing a diaper. The friend mentions a recent football game and, evidently worried that the friend may think less of him, the new dad finds a highlight reel and his rep is restored. (Until his wife enters the room and he has to cut the conversation short, as if changing a diaper and talking on the phone is misbehavior.) I've railed against the characterization of dads and husbands in advertising and television before, but this commercial did get me thinking; why do I now feel weird sometimes talking to my childless friends? It's as if I'm navigating new social waters (or at least ones I haven't seen in a while) or trying to remember my high school Spanish at a downtown bodega. Something's just a little off.