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How do you handle it when your child clearly prefers her Dad?

(19 Posts)
Shanster Tue 02-Apr-13 23:54:57

DD is 4, and has always had a strong preference to her Dad. I went back to work when she was 3 months, and my partner stayed home with her fulltime until she was about 8 months. I don't know if that is what caused it, but she just really loves her Dad. Tonight he is working and she told me at dinner that she wished I was at work so that her Daddy could be home. I told her I liked to be home and have dinner with her and her brother too, and she said that she loved me a little bit but she loved her Daddy a lot. I have never heard her articulate it like that before. It breaks my heart, is has depressed me for years now. I have tried really hard, I went pt when she was a year old, can the relationship be doomed already? Or do other kids prefer their Dads to their Mums?

TallyGrenshall Wed 03-Apr-13 00:06:54

No advice I'm afraid but I'm going to watch with interest as I have the same problem but the other way around. Ds is 4 and atm, just will not have anything to do with his Dad if I'm there as well. Recently he has been telling me that I'm his best friend and he loves me etc, several times an hour a day, but Daddy is not his friend.
If we are talking about going on a day out, or even what to have for dinner it's always 'Daddy can stay at work', he won't even tell his Dad what he has done during the day, or ask him to play because Mummy is the be all and end all.

Carolra Wed 03-Apr-13 00:29:30

I'm sorry to hear you're struggling with this. I don't have any advice really but wanted to let you know there is hope. My best friend's dd (my god daughter) was like this at the age of 4, sometimes openly rejecting her mum (no mummy, daddy gets all my cuddles etc). My friend found it really heartbreaking. She's 7 now though and they are really close, they do all sorts of really girly things together, and it's always her mum she wants to be there. Friend didn't do anything differently, they just sort of grew into each other. I know how hard she found it, but she said at the time that she just had to tell herself it was a phase and not personal. Hope that helps xx

QTPie Wed 03-Apr-13 08:42:25

No, children will go through phases and are very fickle ... Like their "best friend": one minute it is one little girl from nursery, the next it is someone else. They are very much "in the moment".

Quite honestly, there is no point in regretting or dwelling on the past - there is nothing that you can do. Your DD is still very young - you have every opportunity to shape the future. Also be happy that she has a great relationship with her dad - that is lovely.

Can you schedule some "quality girls only time": some special things that are just her and mummy? Regularly? The boys can go off and do something else?

Also look for regular times that you can do everyday stuff: do you do her bedtime story? A snuggle and story can be the nicest time of the day: great for bonding.


Smudging Wed 03-Apr-13 08:52:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheOrchardKeeper Wed 03-Apr-13 08:56:47

Does she want to be close to daddy AND you when she's ill?

I'm an lp and sometimes I think my DS is a bigger fan of granny over me.

We recently had full blown flu & he would not let go of me for love or chocolate.

It's probably a bit of a phase too & partly because of the working arrangement but try not to worry, it won't last (as long as you're not a fire breathing dragon or a monster from under the bed etc) smile

PiHigh Wed 03-Apr-13 09:12:31

DD1 (5yo) definitely prefers her Dad. When we're out she pretty much refuses to hold my hand at all, always wanting Daddy's. She wants him to sit next to her at the kitchen table.

Then we had DD2. She's the opposite, wants me far more than Dh. She regularly shouts "I don't like you Daddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyy" at bedtime. We've done nothing differently confused

I guess in my case it was easier to handle DD1's preference because I was at home full-time and Dh was out at work so it felt more like she was balancing the time.

matana Wed 03-Apr-13 11:38:27

Going through this but the other way around. DS is 2.5yo and has always shown a preference for me but at the moment it's really getting to DH because he can't even touch DS without DS saying "No daddy, that's naughty! I want mummy!" and crying. And screaming. And crying some more, for mummy. DH feels really rejected. Just trying some real common sense stuff, like making myself scarce so they can spend time together. Ensuring i don't hog all the fun things etc. DH loves gardening and DS loves being outdoors so i just want it to get a bit warmer so they can share something fun that's just for the two of them. I think that's important. It's so hard though - i hate seeing my DS in floods of tears because he wants me, but i have to force myself to tell him that daddy is just as good and will do bath and bedtime tonight. It's harder because i want to spend time with him as i work FT and feel bad about shirking.

Shanster Wed 03-Apr-13 13:45:53

Thanks, I do have hope. I am glad that she is so close to her Dad, as I was very close to mine growing up too. As she gets older, hopefully she'll see more of a role for me. In the meantime, I'll just be patient.

mermaid101 Thu 04-Apr-13 12:33:16

Shanster, I was going to post almost the same message today. My DD is 18 months and I have the very same problem. It's really getting me down! I work full time and have since she was about 11 months and my DH is at home with her and only works 2 days a week.

I'm a teacher, so I'm off on holiday just now, and a few days ago when he was working, she cried for him for hours. Like you, i am genuinely happy she has such a great relationship with him, but it's hard for me. She cries for him at bath/bed time if I try to put her to bed

Has your DD been like this consistently, or does she sometimes prefer you? How does her Dad react to this situation?

Shanster Fri 05-Apr-13 02:17:30

Mermaid - your working situation sounds just like mine, DH works 3 days a week, and is home with the kids 2 days himself, and then we are all home at the weekend. My daughter has always preferred him, thought she goes through phases where she has some time for me. When she is ill, its 50/50 that she'll ask for me. But, I figure if I am there, and I keep trying, then eventually she'll find some need for me. My son is 2, and he is a proper Mummy's I suppose it might be an opposite sex parent thing rather than a working mum thing? Good luck...

Fuzzymum1 Fri 05-Apr-13 13:58:13

My 6yo DS has flipped back and forth between us. A year ago he was all about daddy but at the moment it's all mummy, mummy, mummy. I have been a SHAM since his birth and DH has always worked full time - though he works locally and DS sees hi morning and evening every day. DH and I have always shared responsibility for him when DH is home. Nothing seems to trigger the switching but he usually has a favourite.

JellyBellies Fri 05-Apr-13 14:06:58

Hi, We had this the other way around. DS1 who is 4 preferred me for years. I took a years maternity leave with him and then worked from home. DH worked out of the house.

It would really get him down. If DS woke in the night and DH went to comfort him, he would scream louder until I turned up!

I always told DH that he should do more with him though. Like even if DH was at home and the kids wanted something, they cam yo me. Was much harder when he was a baby but now DH takes him swimming, roller skating, etc. They both love it and DS has become much more balanced in who he prefers. Actually, now it's more daddy!

I personally think that children do to whoever spends more time with them, now that DH is putting in so much time with him, he prefers to go with daddy.

The key thing is, don't let it get you down. You have to let her know you live her no matter what. And try spending special time with her.

louisianablue2000 Fri 05-Apr-13 14:12:09

I was going to reply with a flippant 'I enjoy the peace' (spot the hard bitten mother of three) but you sound quite upset by it. They do go through stages so when she says how much she loves Daddy just say 'I love Daddy too' or something else bland and reassuring and before you know it you'll be the favourite and poor Daddy will feel left out.

They do like to test out difficult emotions on the safest person. She knows you are there for her more than Daddy so it feels safer to try and express that she misses him by saying (unintentionally) hurtful things to you. She's just working out how to express herself, it's a natural part of growing up.

VeryHungryKatypillar Fri 05-Apr-13 20:32:38

We have something similar with DD2, who much prefers DH over me.

I have been putting this down to the fact that he has lots of fun with both DDs, will play with them for hours on end and sod the [insert the relevant household task]. Whereas I will do a bit of playing but then encourage them to play on their own, whilst I sort out the [insert the relevant household task MN ].

Might there be a bit of that going on?

LittleEdie Fri 05-Apr-13 23:24:57

It's a horrible feeling - but trust me, it really can change. Threads like this were a lifeline to me a couple of years ago when I felt really bad about a similar situation. All is fine now.

Eebs Fri 05-Apr-13 23:39:02

My dd always made it clear that it was me she wanted and needed. She loved her dad but he was very much second best. A little while ago aged 6 she announced that daddy was her favourite now as I had had my turn. I can really see the difference in her attitude towards him. Small children really have to bond to one parent the most for a while. It is a biological urge that cannot be fought. This will generally change as they start to make moves to separate (generally starting school). Have patience. My dh loves giving me smug looks when our dd throws herself at him not me!

MissDiscombobulated Sat 06-Apr-13 00:30:55

I can really empathize Shanster and the other parents going through this. My DS of 18mths also prefers Daddy. He doesn't see as much of DP as me and when he does see DP, they have so much fun together so I can kind of understand why.
DS is ok when it's just me and him but as soon as Daddy is around, I get pushed away or the cold shoulder. (From time to time I also get brushed off for virtual strangers that take an interest in him!) I can only hope that it a developmental phase and things return to a more even keel eventually.
I have read up quite a bit on this and see that it is quite common so I am trying not to attribute it to anything I could have done differently. It is tough though feeling that rejection. Hang in there Shanster, she loves you dearly no matter what :-)

Notsoyummymummy1 Sat 06-Apr-13 05:55:06

It is very very normal for a child to prefer one parent over the other (usually the one she spends the most time with or has the most fun with but it can also be the parent who is away more) and unfortunately they are never very subtle about it. Also don't underestimate the effect of the arrival of a sibling. First born children are often very sensitive to the changes a new sibling brings to their own relationship with mum and how much attention they now get and they end up clinging to the more "available" parent - Dad. As hurtful as it is to feel "rejected" - try not to take this personally, it's not a reflection on you as a parent and it will pass. For the time being make sure that you are getting quality one to one time with your daughter regularly and whenever she says she loves daddy more just say "well me and Daddy love you and your brother just the same". Remember that children show their love and attachment in different ways, so be sure you’re staying open to all the signs of affection that your daughter shows – they may not be on your terms, but they are just as important.

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