This Is What It’s Like When a Child Prefers One Parent

daughter prefers father
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

I was not prepared for my child to choose my husband over me. It happened when my daughter was about one-and-a-half years old. Up to that time, I was clearly the parent of choice. She predictably preferred that I feed her, bathe her, change her diapers and put her to sleep.  Of course, her father was a close second, but bottom line – momma came first.

And then, one day, she fell at the park and ran to daddy instead of to me. Maybe she was confused?  In pain?  In shock?  Then I noticed her asking daddy for things she normally wanted from me. What’s up with that?

I consider myself to be a relatively secure person, but when my first born, my girl, showed preference for my husband, suddenly I wasn’t so secure. And then the final straw:  I reached out my arms to lift her and she squirmed and ran to daddy instead. That threw me over the edge and I immediately put in a call to my momma, the wise sage, for guidance and reassurance.

I explained the whole story. She listened to me. I talked some more. She uh-hummed me. I asked if it was payback for the time Ava couldn’t sleep all night and I thought I would ki……… . I mean, give her away. She advised me. She said kids go through phases. In one phase they prefer mommy and in another daddy and then maybe mommy again or maybe the babysitter and then surprise, you are waking up again in the middle of the night because you and only you are capable of giving the comfort needed to go back to sleep.

nanny and child
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And then came the piece de resistance. “Laura, my dear, do not let her know you notice – let alone care – and by all means, enjoy it.” My mom raised four kids and had plenty of experience in this area, so although I was comforted, I was still in withdrawal.

The phase lasted a few weeks. It was definitely tough on me, but I made a conscious effort to respect Ava’s right to gravitate towards her father, since I was assured that was what she needed at the time. Then, slowly, I noticed the tide change. Ava wanted me again. She craved me again. I was so relieved!

My son is now starting to have favorites. Am I sad? Concerned? Having withdrawal? Nahhh. “Dearest Hubby, Jacob wants you, so I might as well go to yoga now. Have fun. Love you!” Ah… that second child. How delightful to be an experienced momma.

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