A child’s favorite toy, favorite food, and favorite game can change overnight, so too can a child’s preferred parent. As difficult as it can be to accept one parent is always going to be preferred over the other. Often times the less favorite parent can be left feeling inadequate as they feel they are doing everything right and can’t understand why the child doesn’t “like” them as much. If you aren’t the favorite parent remember that all relationships are different but still special. It is difficult to compare one relationship to another as they are so vastly different. Children’s tastes and preference change, while they might prefer your spouse today that doesn’t mean that next week their preference won’t switch.
Surely there are activities where your child prefers you to anyone else. Does your child have a favorite book that he likes the way you impersonate the character voices best? Or a favorite game that she loves to play with you because you always let her win? Set aside ample time in your day/week to participate in these activities and make sure your child knows you value this time together. If your job requires you to leave for work before your child wakes up perhaps your time with him/her is the nightly bath routine. Or set a weekly Sunday evening date with your son where you two get ice cream together.
All of your child’s relationships are important to healthy development. Restrain yourself from expressing feelings of resentment in the presence of your child as this is counterproductive and will only led to larger problems. Talk to your spouse about your concerns, perhaps they have suggestions on how you can improve the child/parent relationship. Maybe there are instances where they can step back and allow you to have additional one-on-one time.
Children are often intrigued by new activities and will be excited by the idea of something different. Try arranging family activities or creating new traditions that involve the three of you as a family. This will help to further strength your bond.
By Jessica S.