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"I like Mommy Best!": How to Handle Favoritism From Your Kids

Mom’s performing improv comedy with the silverware while Dad’s surfing his Blackberry. She’s tucking the little ones into bed while he reads mystery novels on the couch. And she wonders: how can they change that pattern?

Motherlode offers up one mom’s anguished account of a pretty common parenting problem: one of you has become the Favorite Parent. You’re burned out, while the less adored parent feels left out.

I’ve written here before about the problems that crop up when parent’s play favorites between their kids. This woman is grappling with the other side of that coin: what goes wrong when the kids strongly prefer one parent over another.

Her case sounds pretty extreme: the husband she describes does nothing to build a relationship with his children and tries to buy their love with sweets and toys. Let’s assuming she’s venting some frustration and he’s really a worthwhile guy.

Sometimes kids do prefer one parent, especially at the preschool stage. Lately my three-year-old throws a howling wobbly if I try to do anything for her. We’re on vacation, her dad is around all the time while I’m still working and often distracted. It makes sense that she wants to take advantage of his sudden availability. But it’s no fun when she starts kicking and screaming, “NO! DADDY DO IT!” when I try to feed her or read her a story.

While these things often sort themselves out as the kids grow, it’s important not to foster them as parents. Regardless of how your family has divided childcare time and tasks, make sure each parent has ample opporunity to foster closeness and love with each kid. A long-term situation where Mom of Dad is always best will be bad for everyone.

Photo: Make Less Noise

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