Why Children Prefer One Parent Over the Other and What You Can Do About It
A poll carried out by a website devoted to parenting has shown that 90% of the interviewed mothers and fathers said their kids have favored one parent over the other at some point. If you’ve faced the same situation, don’t take it personally and don’t doubt your parenting skills. While it may hurt your feelings, choosing one parent over the other at certain periods of life is normal for children.
Here at Bright Side, we’ve studied the reasons for kids’ favoritism and the ways parents should behave when they face it.
Do children really prefer one parent over the other?
Have you ever noticed that your kid chooses to do the most enjoyable things with your partner rather than you? If your little son or daughter prefers to be dressed, fed or read to only by your partner even if you are around, you are facing an issue that is well-known to many parents. Good news: kids’ favoritism is normal, temporary and has nothing to do with whether you are a good parent or not.
Why does it happen?
Children and teenagers may demonstrate favoritism at different periods of their lives for different reasons. When it comes to toddlers, choosing one parent over the other is a healthy and necessary developmental stage connected to the attachment process. The purpose of this stage is to find a person who provides the child with ultimate care and support. As your child goes through the process of emotional development or puberty, the “exclusion” may go back and forth from one parent to the other.
Don’t let it bother you too much.
It may not seem that easy or simple, but letting go is one of the best options in this case. The more the “excluded” parent demands the kid’s attention, the more the kid runs toward the other direction. Remember that this is just a normal stage of your child’s growing up and it will end shortly. Stay calm and patient and take advantage of all the free time you have — take a walk or have lunch with friends while your partner is “on stage”.
Make sure both parents have one-on-one time with the child.
If you’re the favored parent, make sure you give your partner a chance to have fun with the kid as well. It just may happen that you get to do all the most enjoyable things with your kid while your partner works or does household chores. If you notice this inequality, try to change your family routine in such a way that you and your partner have equal opportunities to spend time with your child.
Do things as a family.
Group activities are great because they engage all the members of the family and no one is excluded. It’s a good idea to choose a regular time for family activities such as reading a book to your child, taking turns with your partner. Even 10 minutes of group activities can make family ties stronger and turn the kid’s attention toward the less favored parent.
Restore the bond with your child.
If you feel that you somehow lost the bond with your child, make up a nice tradition for just the 2 of you. It can be visiting your kid’s favorite place, collecting leaves when you walk, counting stars before going to bed or any other engaging activity you can think of.
Talk to your partner.
Whether you are the most favored or the least favored parent, your partner may not be aware of your feelings. Instead of taking it all personally and keeping your feelings inside, talk to your partner and work out a plan on how to balance your family relations and make everyone feel comfortable.
If you partner tells you that he or she feels abandoned and thinks of you as a favored parent, think of what you can do to fix it. The next time you have your one-on-one time with the child you can say something like, “Daddy/Mommy really loves us! Aren’t we lucky to have him/her?”
Compare your parenting styles.
Sometimes a child’s favoritism may be connected to the parenting styles you and your partner employ. Analyze the roles you have as parents. It just may happen that one parent (the favored one) is more relaxed and permissive, while the other one is a strict rule setter.
Whatever you feel, show love and respect toward your child and partner.
Feeling abandoned hurts, but even if you do feel this way, avoid criticizing or blaming your child and partner. Don’t show anger or disappointment and communicate love and respect instead. Criticism and negative comments about the situation will make your child feel bad, giving them less motivation to move toward the shunned parent. Be wise and patient and you will be able to cope with the situation in the most efficient way.
Have you ever experienced being favored or excluded by your kid? How did you cope with it? Tell us in the comments!