“There’s a reason why your child favors one parent over the other and don’t worry, it’s not personal. I have been trying to tell myself this, as my daughter, diva, mini-me and best friend started saying a few times “No Mommy,” It rips my heart out but when she prefers Daddy, I know it’s her way of showing her independence. She wants to prove that she can make her own choices (in the same way she insists on Runaway Bunny may also be a matter of familiarity and comfort with her routine. It’s no longer, “Mommy do it”, now it is “I do it” or “Daddy do it.”
It’s hard not to feel rejected (and kind of dejected) when Arywn favors her dad (Mommy who?) — or to feel a bit guilty or smug if you’re the one being worshiped (Mommy rules!). But playing favorites is common with toddlers (for example, toddler attachment to a lovey) and has nothing to do with one of you being the better parent or being loved more. In fact, soon you may find that the tide has turned: Toddlers once fiercely glued to Mommy may be suddenly stuck on Daddy — or vice versa.
I keep telling me this too shall pass, but until then, here’s a few ways I can pass the time of this phase according to, “What to Expect, Toddler Behaviors:
- Spread the wealth. If you’re the chosen one, make sure you’re not hoarding all the fun parenting tasks. By putting your partner in charge of some things your toddler looks forward to (flipping pancakes on Saturday, going to the park, reading bedtime stories), you give your mate a shot at competing.
- Bow out (temporarily). It’ll be easier for your understudy to win over his little critic if you regularly let him take center stage. Run an errand, take a walk, or have lunch with a pal while your partner runs the show at home. Everyone wins — you get some me-time, your partner gets to shine. And given the opportunity, your tot may discover that Daddy’s singing-waiter routine more than makes up for his sorry sandwich-cutting skills.
- Get busy. Even when you’re together, you can fade into the background by telling your mama’s girl, “Sweetie, I’m busy now. Daddy will help you.” Then step out of the spotlight — and resist the temptation to direct your partner’s every move from the sideline.
- Show your love — even if she spurns it. It stings when a child favors your partner over you. But if your toddler resisting affection from you, whatever you do, don’t let your hurt feelings show and don’t withdraw. That’ll make your tot only cling more to Dad. Instead, stay positive and let your little one knows that you’re still into her even if she’s just not that into you (at the moment).
- Blaze a new trail. One-on-one time with each of you is always a good idea, but it’s especially important when a child favors one parent. If you’re the one being snubbed, start some new traditions that you and your tot can do together — going to the farmers market on Sunday mornings, collecting leaves during walks, counting the stars before bedtime.