Reasons Why Children Prefer One Parent Over the Other and Ways You Can Go Around It

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A survey done by a website dedicated to parenting shows that about 90% of mothers and fathers interviewed admitted that their kids had at some point preferred one parent over the other. If this is the case with you, it is advised not go feeling bad and doubting your parenting skills.

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It is understandable that your feelings might be hurt to some degree, but this habit is not uncommon among kids to favour you over your partner. Kids would be kids.

Do children choose a parent over the other?

Kids have a knack of being in certain activities they enjoy with one of both parents. Like the male child would prefer soccer with dad and the female would prefer going shopping with mom. Sons might even prefer for mommy to feed them and daughters would only have their hair done by their dads and would through tantrums when parents who do things with them aren’t around, and no trying to appease them would only cause more drama.

This might be an extremely emotional moment for you, but it is essential to understand that this period is only temporary and entirely has no link with you being a good or bad parent. So their act of favouritism shouldn’t cause you to feel bad.

Why does it happen?

Young kids and teens may exhibit acts of favouritism at different periods of their lives for various reasons. Toddles would readily pick one parent over the other to be cared for, doesn’t matter if it’s the mother or the father, but you need to understand this developing phase is as necessary and healthy in strengthening the attachment process.

The aim of this stage is to find a person who can provide the child with optimum support and attention. During this stage of development or puberty, your child may send mixed emotional signals that may rock back and forth from one parent to the other. How they react towards you has nothing to do with you.

Don’t be bothered by it

Some emotions may be hard to control, and reactions vary. But knowledge of how your children behave the way they do should give you more insight into how your response should be. It may be hard to comprehend this stage, but the best thing to do is to let go.

Understand that this phase would pass and it isn’t about you. Bothering yourself about your child preferring the company of your partner over yours should eat you up. It would pass. You’d be doing more harm than good if you try to force your kid’s attention and may have the child drifting even farther away. Allow the natural course of growth happen and at its own pace. Remain calm, be patient and focus on other things on your free time; I mean, you had a life before you had your child right?

Ensure parents have one-on-one time with the child

If your child prefers you over your partner, endeavour to space out time or your partner to have fun with your child as well. You could try and get busy or avoid your child, so he or she understands that the next best choice of company is your partner.

Try engaging in other activities like walking, jogging, hanging out with friends while your child tries bonding with your partner. You could try timing your outing from 30 mins and increase it as bonding progress happens.

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Engage in activities as a family

Group activities are amazing since all members of the family can engage in them and turns can be taken from partner to kids. It is healthy because kids might discover that certain activities they are quite good at are best done with parents they won’t readily bond with. Some minutes of group activities could make family bonding stronger and in turn get your child’s attention toward the less preferred parent.

Reestablish bonding with your child

Restoring connection with your kids is an excellent way to be in their good books. No one likes the feeling of having their child not bonding with them.

Engage in activities they enjoy doing such as shopping, camping, hiking, movies, get ice cream together, or play arcade games if you have to. Do things that excite them with them and who knows; you just might them looking forward to more outings and trips in the future.

Communicate your feelings to your partner

It doesn’t matter if you are less favoured or not, your partner may likely not be aware of how you feel inside. So instead of bagging resentment and not voicing your feelings, talk to your significant other, express your feelings, make them understand how you feel and work discuss on ways to balance the dwindling relationship in your family. You can’t keep running your day with so much discomfort inside you and assume your partner knows, or he or she sees it all. They actually might not even be aware at all.

Be sure to communicate your thoughts as clearly as you can so your partner doesn’t get the wrong message. By doing this, you both can then come to an agreement on how to bridge the gap between you and your child.

Compare your parenting styles

Most times, your child’s parenting preference may be linked to the “parenting style” you and your partner adopt. The way you relate with your kids may be entirely different from the way your partner connects with them. Analyse the differences and see where adjustments need to be made.

It is important that you don’t let your feelings take the best of you in ways that may push you to get angry, snap, criticize your child and your partner because you are less preferred. Patience is entirely needed to getting the kind of family you pictured having. Don’t stop expressing love and respect towards your partner and child.

Words like “daddy/mommy love you so much” or “you mean so much to me” , should be said daily to ensure them that despite the position they placed you, your feelings towards them didn’t change.

I’m sure we’ve learned a thing or two from this post. If you’ve experienced something similar to this, please share your experience and ways you took in fixing it in the comment section. Thank you.

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Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michael is an online Mental Health Therapist, Advocate for Mental Health Awareness, a programmer, and also a content creator from Edo state, Akoko-Edo LG.
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