Let’s talk about child favoritism! Family time with my son has begun to feel like gym class team selections. Spoiler alert: I was always picked last. For the most part, I’m proud of the bond that both of my children have with my husband and me, but lately, my son’s “Daddy is the best” routine is beginning to grind on me – BIG TIME! He isn’t just selecting daddy over me, he’s very verbal about his displeasure when he’s left alone with me, no matter how fun what we’re doing is.
In turn, he gets whiny, gives me attitude, and then my feelings get hurt, and I can’t blame him for wanting to be with his dad, mostly because I have difficulty masking just how to hurt I am about the entire situation.
In the morning when he wakes up, or when I pick him up after school, the routine has become Groundhog Day level predictable. Both of my kids run and hug me. My daughter begins to tell me about her day or her dream from the night before and my son utters the two words that have begun to sting, “Where’s Daddy?”
Parent educator and author Dr. Erica Reischer says it is, “very normal and very common” child favoritism, for children to pick favorites. She also adds that if the “favoritism dynamic” is more constant than the occasional or a longer-term phase, parents may want to dive deeper into the root cause.
This sudden need for one parent could be the result of someone not being hands-on enough in their approach. The family not spending enough time together, or a good cop/ bad cop parenting dynamic.
So how do we respond to child favoritism?
Here Are Tips How To Handle Child Favoritism
1. Do Not Respond Negatively To Child Favouritism
It’s hard to be overlooked again and again.
I really need to work on my poker face here and spend some more time with my daughter who isn’t playing favorites instead of focusing on being hurt over honest and valid little kid feelings.
It doesn’t make it suck any less though.
2. Show Empathy Of Their Requests For The Favoured Parent
Even when you can’t give them what they want because mommy is at work or daddy is out, don’t deny them their feelings of preference.
A simple response of “I know how much you love daddy” shows you “get it”.
3. Try & Get Something Fun Individually Scheduled For Both Parents
Ask the favored parent to take a turn getting the kids to clean up their room while the other parent gets to take the kids for ice cream or plays a game of tag. Talk to your partner about ways to balance the fun and the work. If you’re the “fun one” consider whether or not you’re taking all of the fun activities and leaving your partner with most of the discipline and “have to” routines.
4. Making a Group Activity Cann Help You Cope a Child Favoritism
Try something that everyone can do together. A picnic, family movie, board game, craft, or even gardening might be the key to some family togetherness that literally includes everyone in the fun.
5. Remind Your Child That You Love Them
There’s a fine balance between reminding your child who isn’t picking you that you love them. Adding in an extra kiss or cuddle goodnight never hurt anyone though, a great way to cope up with child favoritism.
6. Remember That Love & Favoritism Aren’t The Same Things
The other night my husband reminded me that my children are probably never going to appreciate that I’m the one who packs their lunches every day. Putting away their clean clothes handles 99.9 percent of their scholastic administration (that is until they have kids of their own, sorry mom).
An article in Psychology Today reminds parents that “Children can love both parents and still favor one over the other”. It’s natural for kids to want to spend more time with the person who lets them stay up later. And moreover, less likely to make them hang their coats up by the front door. Remember, “It is not the role of the children to affirm the adult”.
7. Remember To Be Adult About It
In raising kids, it’s nice to be favored, but parenting isn’t a competition. Take some time to praise, listen, and support your partner.
Because odds are down the road. The shoe may be on the other foot and you’ll want them to do the same.
Yes, child favoritism is often common in a family and it is not permanent. However, we need to keep in mind that child favoritism is just a childhood experience of children. Moreover, parenting will never be a competition.
Always remind your kids that you love them with all of your heart and keep supporting your partner. Always give quality time to establish a strong bond with the kids regardless of child favoritism.
Check out more helpful tips on our recent posts on the links below.
How To Talk To Teenagers: Parents Need To Know.
Sara is a freelance writer, award winning parenting blogger, and public relations specialist from Toronto, Canada. She is mother to fraternal girl/boy twins, loves music, hiking, and offbeat pop culture.