Ben Claassen III (For Express)

Q. My husband claims I openly favor one of our twin daughters over the other. It is true that one twin is easier to raise and perhaps easier to love. They are 4 and the other one constantly tests my boundaries and patience. But I do my best to treat them the same. Since I am home with them many more hours than he is, he doesn’t know what it’s like to be on your fifth hour of whining and refusing to do what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s left me bitter and frustrated and overanalyzing everything I do. Hate That Accusation

I see two separate issues here: your frustration over your giving-you-a-run-for-your-money daughter, and your feeling invalidated by your husband. No two siblings, even twins, even identical twins who are mistaken for each other by their own parents 10 percent of the time, are ever possibly “treated the same.” So throw out that goal; your twins are different, and naturally what works with one might not work for the other. But that’s not a free pass to be less loving toward one of them, which brings me to my second point: You sound overwhelmed. And the more your husband accuses you of favoritism (which might be true), the more you’ll reject it as invalid, and resent it because he doesn’t understand. So, reframe the problem: You have a tough 4-year-old who is testing your limits, frying your patience and affecting family relationships. You need more support: with your husband’s time, with self-care, with one-on-one relationship-building with each child, and with breathers from the kids.

Drama in the neighborhood

Q. Recently, my elderly next-door neighbor had a medical emergency, and emergency vehicles came to his home. It caused quite a stir on our street with a lot of people emerging from their homes, curious. I feel protective of this neighbor, who does not have much of a relationship with others in the neighborhood, and whom other neighbors have never seemed to care much about until there is drama. I tried to shoo everyone away and was apparently rude in doing so, as now one of these neighbors seems to be shunning me. Am I really supposed to apologize for protecting the privacy of someone who my neighbors don’t show any care about otherwise? Annoyed By Drama-Seekers

As most political candidates know, apologies exist on a spectrum. You can apologize for the manner in which your message was delivered even if you show no remorse for the message itself. You feel your neighbor’s behavior isn’t acceptable, so depending on the relationship you have with him or her, you might use this opportunity to convey that as well. Sample script: “I think I was rude when talking to you that day. To be honest, I feel protective of Fred, because it seemed people were suddenly showing interest in him only because of drama. I understand the curiosity, but I didn’t want him to feel invaded. In any case, I’m sorry for my tone.”

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