Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Preferred Parent

The Preferred Parent 

It's hard to describe this phenomenon, 
but when it happens you know it. 
It usually manifests in some sort of sobbing: 


I am, absolutely, the preferred parent. 
For both kids. 
And always have been. 

If Aaron is upset, he runs to me. 
If Aaron needs something, he runs to me. 
If Aaron wants a book, he'll ask me to read it. 

If Oliver is crying, he wants Mommy. 
If Oliver is happy, he wants Mommy. 
If Oliver is even remotely AWAKE, he wants Mommy. 

A neighbor dad once told Adam: 
"When they are little it's mommy, mommy, mommy. 
But don't worry man, when they get older, 
then they want to spend time with dad. 
Then dad becomes cool and mom is embarrassing." 

Needless to say, we are still waiting for this day. 

Photo from a year ago but still a common event:
 when everyone has to sit on mom's lap together and chaos ensues

Now, this isn't to say that my kids don't like doing things with Adam. 
Aaron LOVES golfing with Daddy, 
going out to eat breakfast with Daddy, 
and all sorts of other Daddy-related fun events. 
But when shit hits the fan, Mommy had better be there to help clean it up. 

In contrast, over the 4th holiday, 
I observed a family where both kids adamantly prefer dad. 
The oldest boy was 4 and his dad was the be-all-end-all of life. 
The girl was barely 1 and while she had been a mama's girl during breastfeeding, 
you could tell she was rapidly moving to the dark side (jk). 
If daddy walked away, she cried. 
If mommy walked away, she was ok. 

Then there are families where the kids flip-flop. 
Or split down the middle. 
I remember long ago asking Amanda if it was easier being the preferential parent, 
since at the time the twins each preferred a separate parent. 
(I think her answer was something like
 "it's depends but generally easier to be the preferred.
Still feel that way, Amanda?)

I'm always interested in what causes this preferential split. 
Some will say "mama's boy" and "daddy's girl"
but I've seen many instances (like the example above) where this isn't the case. 
For me growing up, I preferred my dad. 
I always assumed this was 
1) the whole "daddy's girl" mentality 
but also 
2) because my mom married into the family when I was 4. 

I understand being preferential now that I'm home all the time, 
but it was the same back when I was working 
and when Adam was in law school 
(aka: part-time stay-at-home-dad). 

Some breastfeeding advocates claim it's the breastfeeding bond, 
but I'm sure you can point to a lot of examples where that also falls out. 

I decided to throw out a google search 
and the second link was a psychological article from 2010 
"Is there a favorite parent?
The article implies that the favorite parent is the more lenient one who lets the kid get away with more. 
This is funny because of Adam and I, 
I am definitely the harsher disciplinary which goes counter to this argument. 
On the other hand, I also employ a strong "let them get hurt and learn a lesson" 
(versus Adam's preference towards "bubbling"), 
and am therefore more likely to let Aaron climb a tree. 

Any thoughts?  


  1. Ha, so I'd still say it's a split with the twins- Clara more strongly prefers me and Colby could go either way but when he's really upset, he usually wants Daddy. I still think it's easier being the preferred one in most cases because I HATE the fights that ensue when the non-preferred parent is attempting to accomplish something and the child fights it. Colby doesn't do this to me, but Clara fights Brian on basically everything (I want mommy to get me dressed, I want mommy to put me in the car, etc.). While it's annoying for me to have to do those things, I know it's immensely more frustrating for Brian who's having to try to overcome the resistance!

  2. I am the preferred parent for the most part. I think it's because early-on I have been the more present parent (maternity leave, being the one to pickup/dropoff mostly, breastfeeding for sure), but I'm also the bigger nurturer. I am more of the snuggler, holder, etc. Daddy is great for a wrestling session, but I'm the nurturer for sure. I'm also the more willing parent for game playing (my husband will but isn't wild about Candyland, etc. ha) and pretend play, coloring, play-doh. I am making Brent sound bad here, ha, but he's the one to play catch and teach them things, so I could see them switching their preference as they get older, but for now, I'm 3 for 3 the fave. One of my best friends is the preferred for their son (3.5) and her husband is the preferred for their daughter (9 months). She stopped breastfeeding both of them around 3 months, which could play into it, but their son was always bottle fed even when it was breastmilk. For them, I think it's that her husband way more enjoys babies and she way more enjoys toddlers. I think there's a general 'rule' probably with some caveats...