Throughout my youth (and, actually, into adulthood), I was convinced that my parents favored my sister.

Not that they didn’t love my brother or me. She was born first, though, and she was the only girl, so it just seemed they gave her a bit more attention, whether it be cutting out her picture in the paper, planning around her schedule or whatnot. And I let them know sometimes that I feel this way.

As our babies continue to grow, though, I’m not so sure.

I’ve found myself from time to time to be in an identical situation with Rigby that I was in with Penny about a year and a half ago — feeding him his first bowl of cereal, for example, or progressing up to the next-biggest diapers or onesies.

On occasion, I’ve remarked about Rigby’s progress versus the maturation Penny showed when she was his age, but a twinge of guilt immediately pierced my heart every time.

How could I compare my children? How could I possibly measure one up to the other? They’re both so unique; comparison doesn’t seem fair.

I shouldn’t compare them. I CAN’T compare them.

Yet as much as I believe that, the temptation to contrast Penny and Rigby can’t help but creep up from time to time. I am (fairly) confident that this natural occurrence does not make me a bad father, but it still doesn’t feel completely right.

But why? Well, aside from the fact that everyone is different, I feel sometimes that a comparison is only a half-step from showing favoritism. Putting them in order is actually the farthest thing from my mind, but people have a tendency to contrast things as they rank them.

Log onto Facebook or pick up your favorite paper (hopefully this one, of course) and you’re sure to see lists and comparisons of everything from basketball teams to presidents. With that in mind, making a statement such as “Rigby sleeps better through the night than Penny did at his age” might not seem so bad.

Part of human nature would appear to be to compare things; as one of my brothers-in-law likes to say, after all, everyone has favorites.

Favorite movies and foods, sure, but people? OK, maybe cousins and aunts, but surely not children ... right?

Of course not.

But even the hint of preference is what makes the whole thing feel so icky. I love both of my children equally. I love Penny’s pure heart, affection and startlingly advanced ability to reason. And I love Rigby’s playfulness, insatiable appetite and his strong-willed nature to know what he wants and get it.

I’ll try to prevent myself from comparing them, as much as the urge might gnaw at me (I think I did it even after writing the first draft of this column). Likening Penny to her brother isn’t fair to either of them, and while it might be one of dozens of observations that roll through my mind in a given day it doesn’t really do any good.

Likewise, we need to be sure to treat them equally in the future (let Rigby take dance if he wants, allow Penny to play baseball if she desires). Children are sensitive to any perceived miscarriages of sibling equality, and making sure everyone’s on the same level can be a challenge at times.

Just ask my parents.