What to do when a child prefers one parent?

Megan - posted on 06/10/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I am unsure what to do that i haven't already done to remedy this situation. My son will be three shortly and since he has been born he has been a "mamas boy" but it becomes more of an issue by the day. His father resents this a lot of times especially since he is the only boy and he had always wanted a little boy. His father actually spends more time with him than I get to because of our work schedules and we do try and turns punishing him when he does wrong. However when I am home he wants little to do with his father at all always asking me to do everything with him and not wanting to listen to dad. I try not to encourage this behavior and tell him that he needs to listen to daddy too and make sure they spend time together even when I am home but his behavior seems to be getting worse? any ideas i am at a loss.

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Melissa - posted on 06/12/2012

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Hi Megan :) my 1st son is now 4, and he was the same exact way. A huge mama's boy and didn't want anything to do with his dad. It got to be so bad he wouldn't even want to hug/kiss him or let him tuck him in at night. I stay home with him while my husband works most of the time. We could never truly pin point what the issue was other than my husband sometimes disciplining more harshly than I did. So we changed it up and I discipline him more now and try to take some of the "bad guy" off dad's shoulders. Instead of stepping away, step in and take some of the blame off dad, let him appear to be the "good guy" or "nicer parent" just enough to change the tables and give him a reason to 'want' daddy. That doesn't mean dad doesn't discipline at all, he backs me up and says to listen to your mother or pay attention. Stay on the same page, but have you take most of the action, then let dad go in and comfort him to gain kudos. My son doesn't hate me now, he's still a big mama's boy, but dad is back in the picture again and his relationship has blossomed with him. Definitely have them spend more time together, but remember it won't work unless he first WANTS to do that, otherwise it looks like your forcing him to. Good luck! I'm sure he'll come around :)

Megan - posted on 06/10/2012

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thanks so much for your insight. I have really been trying to get him to spend more time with his dad out doing things but most of the time he is content to stay with me even if dad is doing something fun. His dad is good with him they do play and wrestle all the things dads and sons do and don't get me wrong he does love his dad and my husband would never do anything to hurt him but like in your case he is faster to lose his temper over things than i am and our son is a very active child and there are times when he can be difficult but overall a good child. sometimes i realize that i need to step back when he is punishing him because he may not handle things the same way i would but i try to respect him, even though i admit sometimes its easier for me to step in to get him to listen than to just let his dad handle it.

Dianne - posted on 06/10/2012

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Maybe you guys could arrange for your husband to take him on a "Daddy date" where they go out to a fun restaurant, or the zoo, or something like that, that your son would enjoy. Make a big deal out of it and maybe have these once a week or so to foster relationship growth between them. Also, I know it's hard, but one thing I have had to learn to do in my own marriage, is to physically walk away when my husband is parenting one of our children, because I know my own tendency is to cut in and take over, basically undermining what my husband says, without even meaning to. I've had to train myself to do that. If you have to, go outside or put earphones on and listen to music, while your husband is trying to discipline your son, and try not to come behind him afterward and "fix it"....it's so tough, I know. But in order for your little boy to learn to listen to and respect his dad, you'll have to get even further out of the way than you are. There is one caveat: make sure that there is not a GOOD reason as to why your son doesn't want to spend time with his dad. His dad isn't abusive or belittling, right? Or physically inappropriate in any way? I would hope not, but since I don't know you, I'm just trying to think of everything! I know for our family, my husband is a very loving and caring father whose children love him to pieces, but he does tend to lose his temper sometimes, especially when he's on his own with the kids and doesn't know how to best handle chaos (spills, messes, crazy running around children)....and recently our 6 yr. old daughter was turning down opportunities to go with him to the playground or go fishing, and we asked her why, and it turned out that she was afraid he was going to lose his temper with her again and be "mad at her"....so her dad has apologized to her and is working harder at controlling his temper when she does age-appropriate things like today--accidentally breaking his fishing pole. WHOOPS. Hehe. It's such a learning curve. I hope you guys can figure it out. And I hope all this made sense!

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