When Your Kids Have a Favourite Parent …


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?”

“At work”

“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.

I hope!

Do your kids have a favourite parent? Or did they ever go through this phase?

39 thoughts on “When Your Kids Have a Favourite Parent …

    1. That’s what I thought, you’re always attracted to someone who has traits different to your own in many instances :) It can be cute but it can also be a right pain in the ass! Haha.

    1. It’s funny how they always say girls are daddy’s girls and boys are mummy’s boys . Sucks though on the sick thing aye! I’d love it if they shared their sick clinginess around somewhat, especially since I am usually sick at the same time! I will read your post soon, I can totally relate as that was us the other week!
      Haidee recently posted…When Your Kids Have a Favourite (Parent that is)My Profile

    1. Yes, your read my mind! Me too! At the moment I get that time out when they load up the car and go off to the boatshed at the beach on a weekend (weather dependant). I get my nice big cup of coffee and relax with a book. BLISS.

  1. My (almost) 3yo is a total mummy monster at the moment! If I try and leave the house without him he will cry and he hasn’t ever been to bothered in the past so long as Daddy was home with him. At the moment only Mummy will do and while it’s nice most of the time I have to say being to intensely loved by someone so little gets exhausting at times. I know the tide will change at some point so I’m making the most of it. Thanks for the great post it’s nice to know its not just my little guy isn’t the only one.

    1. Yes, it does get very exhausting at times, I can totally agree with you on that point. Especially when being totally loved includes them coming into your bed for extra cuddles every night from around midnight …

    1. It was just the first time, I’m sure I’ll get used to it from here on in 😉 Little monkeys aren’t they! At least Finn still loves me!

  2. My oldest used to like his dad better. My husband was laid off from work, and I was working full time, so he clung to him. It changed when my husband went back to work though, and now I’m usually the favorite. Our little guy favors whoever has food at the moment.

    1. Typical little boy huh, led by the tummy! I’m sure it will change throughout the years, Finn will probably start favoring his dad soon as he gets older and realises dad does the cool stuff like fishing and mummy is boring. Then I am freeeee! Shopping and flat whites (that would be a coffee with froth on top to you!) I envision for my future.

  3. With three kids it’s next to never that I am liked in the house. Invariably at least one, usually two people are stomping around the house snarling at me behind my back.

  4. I completely know where you are coming from. But we only have one child, and his favourite is Daddy. I have to have another baby so that kid will think I am the hero :).

    I get told daily from other people that my toddler loves me (and deep down I know he does), but I know I am not the favourite. That excerpt is good. I just say I am like a piece of the furniture in the house…..there all the time. Everyone loves it, but we see it all the time, it doesn’t change. But if anything happens to that piece of furniture, everyone will cry…..and the house won’t be clean….and there will be no one to feed them….and there will be no one singing really loudly. Everyone will really miss that piece of furniture! That’s how I see it :).
    Kelly recently posted…MY RESTING BITCH FACE WHEN THINGS PEEVE ME OFF!My Profile

    1. I read this at work and loved it! What a great analogy! I loved the ‘But if anything happens to that piece of furniture, everyone will cry…..and the house won’t be clean….and there will be no one to feed them…’. Gold! Off to read your post now.

    1. You sound like me! The only time it is really a pain is when daddy isn’t home and Cohen cries and cries and cries. Then the favouritism is a pain. Otherwise … bring it on! Go play with dad :)

    1. Oh that’s so sad! It’s kinda cute when they are 3 but at 13 that would be a bit heartbreaking! But then, 13 year old girls .. who knows what goes through their heads! I read back on my diaries from that age recently and ended up throwing them out as I was so embarrassed! Haha.

    1. I hope you go something out of it, I thought the article was well written and to the point offering some quite good ideas. Hopefully it just runs it’s course! I find when daddy does something fun that Finn will join in with him and they are bonding over that (whether that be wrestling on the floor or jumping on the trampoline together). I’m also trying to go out more so he has to have time with dad without me. You’re right though, it IS hard work!

  5. Our kids have always had occasional favourites. As babies one of my girls would have very little to do with Boatman, but now she’s much better. The others have always changed depending on mood.
    They have had favourite grandparents though, and that’s hurt some feelings :(
    EssentiallyJess recently posted…Kimmy, the Panda who Loves #IBOTMy Profile

    1. Oh no, favourite grandparents?! Eek! That would hurt feelings and be awkward for you if they are as transparent about it as mine!

    1. Special boy time with dad must be awesome, I’m sure I am going to be totally left out of the special boy time in years to come!

  6. I wonder Haidee whether it continues on through childhood – our daughter is a classic Daddy’s girl (at almost 12), but then when the chips are down she comes to me first usually. Our son (5) used to the classic Mummy’s boy and still is mostly, but he’s getting more nuanced in the art of manipulation. For my part right now they are annoying me differently, but equally!

    1. They probably do to a certain extent, one parent usually has to take on the role of disciplinarian and the other is the good guy which would certainly influence things! We try to share that load but I think I end up yelling more. It’s great your daughter comes to you when the chips are down though, nothing quite like that mother/daughter bond through those tough pre-teen and teenage years.

  7. I really like what the child psych has said, about being secure enough to allow your child to play ‘favourites’ and know that they can return to you for love. That builds such a strong attachment, for them to know they will always have a warm and safe return. But I’m sure it stings to hear them play favourites, in the direct and unintentionally mean way that they do!
    jess recently posted…30-by-30 list updateMy Profile

  8. My 5-year-old is all about having daddy around, but I’ve been home with her since she was born. I’m sure she gets tired of spending so much time with me and he usually takes them to fun places, whereas I do the boring, everyday things. I’m happy the 2-year-old seems to prefer hanging out with me still and hope I always have at least one of them on my side. I do love them both and they’re so different in personality, but at least they seem to get along for the most part. I know they’ll be happy to have each other as they grow into adulthood. It’s also funny this post garnered so many comments. Obviously this is a natural part of childhood and I’m sure most of us experience this as parents.
    Corinna recently posted…10 Great Wedding Gifts for DadMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge