My husband and I have been struggling with this recently. I have heard that many kids prefer the parent that stays at home…my kids would probably love a break from me if I were home all day! It does add a unique challenge when both parents have been away most of the day and the kids only want to be with one parent.
Most of the first year of both of my children’s lives, they actually preferred my husband. I am sure it had nothing with me being a high-strung, anxious mom or him being a funny, laid back, playful dad! It was really a blessing in some ways. They always ate better for him, which was frustrating but nice to let him do a lot of the messy baby food. They only cried when he left, but it made it easy for me to get out the door in the mornings.
Since then both kids have gone through a couple of mommy phases. While I love the extra hugs and cuddle time, it does make it harder to get to work and to accomplish tasks at home with a monkey around my foot. While we have not completely figured out the triggers or the solutions, we have identified a few strategies to minimize the frustration.
- Allow time for extra cuddles…not encouraging favoritism but not denying reassurance
- Create one on one time with the non-preferred parent…even if it means sitting out on something fun like going to the zoo
- Insist on respect for both parents
- Vary routine so that children can handle disruptions
- Evaluate if routine needs to be tightened so children know what to expect
- Identify any triggers…my daughter was crying because she saw me fixing breakfast to eat on the way to work and wanted some
- Ensure you are not enabling the behavior or coddling
- Show respect to your spouse and make sure your children see it