When you’re no longer the favourite parent

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There’s been a noticeable change lately in Max. It’s fair to say that he’s always been a mummy’s boy. He’s very attached to me, and even at over 2, the separation anxiety is still with us and I can’t leave a room without hearing the cries start. That’s not to say that he’s not always had a great relationship with his Dad – John is a fabulous Dad and it’s always been clear how much Max adores him. But it’s always been me that he’s more comfortable with; me who he’ll head to for comfort and cuddles. As the primary caregiver, I suppose it’s natural that I would feel like the ‘favourite parent’.

But I’ve noticed a big change lately in the relationship between the two of them, and in the difference in the way he views us as parents. John is definitely regarded as the ‘fun’ parent – Max is always hyped up, excited to be with him, lots of throwing up in the air and giggling. The holiday was a fantastic week for just sitting back and watching the two of them together – it was lovely to watch John having the one-on-one time with Max that perhaps I take for granted a lot of the time as a semi-stay-at-home-mum. There is nothing that makes me happier than watching the two of them playing together – it gives me that heart melty, squishy tummy feeling where you just feel all consumed by your love for both of them.

But now the holiday is over and we’ve arrived home. Life has gone back to reality with a bump and Max was understandably put out by this. At first, he would get very upset when John left for work – tears, rolling on the floor, the full toddler tantrum works. He seems to have accepted that more now, but will still just randomly come out with ‘Daddy?’, during the day. And things that Max will do without a fuss for John, become a struggle of epic proportions with me. Changing a nappy? With me, that involves a chase round the house with Max screaming ‘No, no, no’! With John, he’s happy to lay down on the changing mat. Bathtime with John is full of giggles, splashing, squirting toys. Bathtime with me involves screaming that he doesn’t want to go in, then standing there while I at least try and get every bit of his body wet before hauling him back out again.

 

Max on stepping stones

Max and Daddy Hi-Fiving

 

I remember thinking ‘I’m not the favourite parent anymore’ and feeling a bit put out. But then the sensible part of me got a grip of myself. It’s not that he loves me any more or any less than his Daddy. It’s natural that he behaves differently for John, given that I am with him most days while John is at work. He sees us both having different roles – it’s the age old setup of Daddy being the fun one, Mummy being for comfort. It’s not to say that he doesn’t have fun with me, or that he can’t be comforted by his Daddy. Just that our primary function in his eyes is different. And that’s why we work well as a parenting team. John is laid back and spontaneous, while I can’t leave the house without a solid plan and a to-do list. I’m cautious and don’t like to take risks, whereas John is far braver with Max than I would be, and pushes him to do things that might be beyond him.

I think it’s natural to feel a bit left out when you sense your own relationship changing, but I love to watch the developing relationship between Max and his Daddy. I think that’s the beautiful thing about our capacity for love – love isn’t a finite resource with only a certain amount to go round; your heart just expands to accommodate it. Max’s growing relationship with his Daddy doesn’t diminish his relationship with me – it’s just a strengthening of the bond between the two of them. Here’s to watching many more of those sun-soaked, heart melty, butterfly tummy moments with the two of them.

Have you found your relationship with your child has changed as they’ve got older? I’d love to hear your comments.

 

Cuddle Fairy

 

A Mum Track Mind
20 Comments
  • Suzanne
    July 20, 2016

    I’m really lucky that both my husband and I work four day weeks so look after our daughter (2.5yrs) an ‘equal’ amount but I definately think she comes to each of us for different things. It’s quite funny but whenever my husband leaves the house my daughter assumes he’s walking the dog and whenever I do she assumes I’m going to work. I’ve also noticed that there is a bit of a battle of wills going on between the two of them and can predict some hefty teenage arguments to come. #bloggerclubuk

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 20, 2016

      Thanks for commenting Suzanne – that’s interesting that even though you both have the same amount of time that the different roles still emerge. And best of luck refereeing the teenage years!

  • Sarah (@craftinvaders.co.uk)
    July 20, 2016

    I definitely found this with both of mine, but particularly my son – and like you I had to tell myself that it’s natural and healthy. We actually had a talk about it (me always telling them what to do while daddy is just chilled out!) as a family yesterday, as I tried to justify my nagging!

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 20, 2016

      It’s reassuring that it’s not just me – I felt a bit silly writing this out, but I thought I couldn’t be alone in this! It’s great that you can all talk about it though (although I feel your pain on the nagging front!)

  • Rebecca Taylor
    July 20, 2016

    Such an open and honest post Katy! Thank you for sharing. I think it is difficult accepting the different roles we play as Mummy and Daddy. I think due to Arron’s shifts we don’t have this issue quite so much as most as Arron does get quite a bit of time off during the week and can be a bit more involved with the ‘normalities’ . But there is still an element of it. But as you say, it is so special watching the bond between them. John and Max obviously have a very special connection, and Mummy will ALWAYS be loved and needed no matter what.
    By the way, I LOVE your hair!! 🙂

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 20, 2016

      Thanks so much Becky – I felt it was a bit of a silly thing to think, but it’s just recognising that just because their relationship is getting stronger, that it doesn’t make my bond with him any less. I find it so interesting that this seems to happen to most families, to a greater or lesser extent. Thanks for the hair comment – I’m not sure, it’s a bit shorter than I asked for it to be!!

  • Natalie @memeandharri
    July 20, 2016

    Daddy is much more fun than me however the girls do love being with me more. I’m not sure if it simply because I am with them all the time, they are used to coming to me for things, I am the comforter. I do feel a little sad for hubbie though – although he doesn’t seem to mind too much especially when they are calling for me at 4am!!! #bloggersclubuk

  • Moderate Mum
    July 20, 2016

    My son was always a daddy’s boy and I did feel the odd pang of envy, now things have changed and I kinda want things to revert to how they were #bloggerclubuk

  • Laura @dearbearandbeany
    July 20, 2016

    Our roles as parents are different for our girls. Alice is definitely more of a mummy’s girl and comes to me for comfort. She has her daddy on a pedestal and he can do no wrong and she just loves it when he takes her out for little trips just the 2 of them. Holly is more of a daddy’s girl and she goes to him for comfort when he is home, she squeals with delight when he comes home. But, our roles do cross over and can change day to day. x #bloggerclubuk

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 24, 2016

      That’s really interesting Laura – I was definitely a Daddy’s girl when I was little, but according to my parents I used to run away and hide behind the sofa when Dad came home when I was really little! I’m sure our roles will continue to chop and change as Max gets older

  • Organised Jo
    July 20, 2016

    My hubby is defenitely the fun parent, and I’m the one that, like you, runs the routine of their lives and does the boring stuff so we can function as a family. I am also the softer of the two when it comes to discipline, which I think is because I am the one around the most evening s and weekends due to his shifts. But hubby has had moments where he has felt the girls have not wanted to know him and only wanted me. It’s a very hard balance, and I have a feeling it would be something that will chop and chance as the girls continue to grow up. #BloggerClubUK

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 24, 2016

      I think it’s a natural thing to feel, but I do feel a bit silly for feeling it! You’re right – it’s no doubt going to chop and change as Max gets older!

  • motherofteenagers
    July 23, 2016

    I have two teenagers, one boy and one girl. Ultimately boys need their dads but the old adage about mothers and their sons is so true. We have a very tight bond and he will always come back to me in moments of crisis. My daughter and I have a great time doing girlie stuff but she is ultimately a real daddy’s girl. I have found the relationships adapt as they grow up and they gravitate to whichever parent suits their needs at the time. It’s interesting really. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 24, 2016

      Oh, that’s lovely! I was the same – I’d say I was a real Daddy’s girl too, although now I’m older I’m really close to my mum. So that makes perfect sense to me that we go to the parent who best suits our needs – even if it’s completely subconscious.

  • Squirmy Popple
    July 23, 2016

    I can totally relate to this. I recently went back to work, and my husband stays home with our daughter a few days a week while I’m working (she’s in nursery the other days). I’ve noticed that ever since this change, she’s much more attached to Daddy and often will run to him before me. It makes me feel a bit hurt and guilty for going back to work, but I know I should be grateful that they have such a great relationship. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Sunita
    July 24, 2016

    I know I’ve spotted the little ones switch between favourites and yes it does make me feel a bit funny.Totally love how close the girls are to their Daddy. I remember being a Daddy’s girl so I know how important that is. Sometimes I remind myself it’s a phase (so not to get too jealous!) but I also love the everyday bonding I see.

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 24, 2016

      Thanks Sunita – I think that’s the thing, the balance between feeling a sneaky bit jealous, but also loving watching the bond between them grow! So many conflicting emotions.

  • Sarah - Mum & Mor
    July 24, 2016

    I can’t really comment about an older child since my baby is only 3 months, but she has been favouring her dad lately! Thank you very much for joining us at #fortheloveofBLOG. 🙂

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