Those were the words that greeted me as I got my oldest son dressed on Wednesday. We had an unexpected day at home as their Nana (who kindly looks after them while we work) was sick with the cold that we had just got over, so I had stayed home from work to look after them myself and had spent the last hour fielding questions about where daddy was and why he wasn’t at home too.
“Mummy, where’s daddy?”
“No, he’s gone to get you a coffee!”
“No, he’s gone to work”
“No, he’s gone to get your coffee mummy!”
“No, he goes to get coffee on weekends, today he’s at work”
“Oh mummy. No. He’s getting your coffee”
And so it went. Eventually I said to him more sternly “Daddy is at work, you have mummy today” and he looked and me and said it. “But mummy, I don’t like you. I like daddy”.
For a long time now daddy has been Cohen’s favourite and I have been Finley’s. Which is ironic really, because Finn is far more like his father in personality than me and Cohen is a mini me. I guess what they say about opposites attracting must be true. I said to him that his words hurt mummy’s feelings and he said ‘But mummy, I love you! I don’t like you but I love you!’. Almost redeemed … ‘Where’s daddy? Is daddy getting your coffee?’. Sigh.
My husband must feel the same way when it comes to our youngest as he rarely gets a look in if I’m around. Finn is all over me, all day wanting cuddles, snuggles and kisses. Daddy asks and his answer is ‘No. Mummy’.
As simple as that.
Parents aren’t allowed favourites but it seems kids are transparent in the favourite parent stakes and we are left in little doubt. Particularly when the words coming out of your child’s mouth are ‘I don’t like you, I like daddy!’.
The exceptions to this rule apply as follows:
- When hurt or sick – then it is always mummy.
- When daddy is going to the beach. Suddenly Finley conveniently ‘forgets’ he only likes me.
- When they want the tablet, in which case they will grease up to whichever parent has it in order to get it.
- When hungry. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
- When we have done something that makes them mad. Tonight I told Finn he had to go to bed and after crying and calling out to me, I went in for him to turn around and say ‘No! Daddy cuddles!’. With attitude. Hating on me tonight.
So what do you do about it? Is this a bad thing? Apparently not.
Here is an excerpt from an article I found on Parents.com about this topic:
Two and 3-year-olds are known for their fierce, but fickle, preferences. They may demand grilled-cheese sandwiches for lunch for a week — and the next week, only chicken fingers will do. So when your child says, “Go away! I want Daddy!” remember that it’s not personal.
In fact, when your child plays favorites, it’s a sign that he feels close to you. “He’s secure enough in your love to know that he can jilt you and still get a warm welcome back,” explains Krista L. Swanson, Ph.D., a child psychologist at the Early Childhood Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles.
Your child’s experimentation with separation and attachment is also a sure sign that his imagination and memory are growing. He’s showing that he has the ability to develop special relationships with individuals — and that he realizes that spending time alone with one parent means he gets undivided attention, points out Lorraine McCune, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and professor at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He’s also learning to put his feelings and desires into words, make his own choices, and exert an influence on his environment — all important steps in growing up.
If this is you, the article I have linked to above also gives some solutions you can try (Click here to read the full article).
For now, we are just letting it run it’s course and trying to spend quality time with the opposite child to try and counteract it. I’m sure they will grow out of it eventually.