The harsh reality of being the favourite parent

favorite parent for your child - Parenting resources by ZenParent

There’s no denying that in our household, I am the favourite parent to our son. I’m the one he runs to when he’s hurt, I’m the one he who’s fingers he holds while he falls asleep, the one whom he rushes to embrace when we both greet him at school, the one that has to kiss his bruises – the chosen one. But let me tell you the dark side to this that no one is spelling out in the open – it sucks. Not just that it makes my husband resentful a lot of times and I end up playing referee between them, not just that I am t-i-r-e-d of being the first response team, it’s that this isn’t entirely what I signed up for.

dark side of favourite parent to your child - ZenParent

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Today, tomorrow, ALL the time

Being a SAHM (stay at home mom), I knew that I would be the primary caregiver, I just didn’t know that I’d have to do everything. Sure, my son “lets” his father give him a bath, take him outdoors and definitely unequivocally loves us both, but it’s just that he prefers that I do everything. So when my husband has to travel on work for 2 weeks, he’s comfortable with it, I’m comfortable with it and everything goes on like a well-oiled machine. I have to go out an afternoon for getting a haircut and there’s panic, maybe 3 phone calls, maybe a forced outing for the two of them –the list is endless for a 2 hour outing.

The resentment games

There’s no bigger rejection for a parent when he goes to comfort his crying child and is pushed away and told, “I want Amma, not YOU!” And then, I’m left comforting a fussy toddler and sometimes the bruised ego of the bigger baby. And I’m going to play this card by saying that young children form a stronger bond with the primary caregiver. Back when I had to leave my son with my father while I worked long hours in my lab, he preferred my father to me. He would cling so dearly to him and wail to come to me that my uterus hurt. And so I know where my husband is coming from. And we don’t give into my son’s demands. Night time stories, catch games, Lego marathons – they’re all my husband’s domain and I don’t interfere. Much less, I’m not welcome and the door is shut on my face. These are the times that they bond and it reassures my husband of his place in the parenting pool.

dad telling bedtime stories to his son - ZenParent

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 The solution

  1. Its important not to give into your kid’s tantrums and asking for you. If your partner is responding to his/her call, let them figure out a solution to it even if your child is crying for you. Just let them be. Overriding your partner will only tell your child that crying for you works. And you can’t dig a bigger hole for yourself if you tried.
  2. Make sure that there are activities that your partner and child do together – something routine, something fun, be it bath time, playtime or bedtime stories – make sure that this is their time together and you’re not
  3. Get a life! Routinely engage in some activity that you do without your child – going for a run or doing supermarket runs, make sure that your child knows that these are the times she cannot accompany you and will have to make peace with that. With practice, this helps.
  4. Reassure your partner that your child does not hate Rather they’re just used to having you around for everything. And that you can find a new normal. Encourage them to come up with things that they would like to exclusively do with the kids.

 

As he’s grown, my son’s tolerance for change has improved. He now accepts that some times his mom isn’t going to be around and then, he is happy to have Dad more than anyone else. He understands that mom goes running in the mornings, prefers to work on her computer in the afternoons and he isn’t invited to join in on these activities. And after all when I’m mad at him for something, he needs his father for ganging up on me. The one thing that’s worked out in our favour and that everyone understands and accepts, is that there is only ONE favourite in the family – it’s him. And we would have it no other way.

father bonds with his son - ZenParent

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