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    When Children Seem to Prefer One Parent Over the Other

    By Darlene Zagata     

    At times a child may seem to prefer spending time with one parent more than the other. The neglected parent may end up feeling hurt. If you are experiencing this type of situation with your child, donít take it personally. Young children go through phases and this is just a phase.

    Children may sometimes react this way due to the roles the parents play in the household. One parent may be considered the fun parent if he or she always initiates play and games. The other parent may be the primary disciplinarian Ė the one who sets and enforces rules and guidelines. An example of this type of situation may be seen when Mom says itís time for bed but Dad says playtime can be extended just a bit longer. At that moment, Dad appears to be more fun than Mom, from a childís point of view.

    Any sudden change in appearance may quickly direct the childís attention and preference to the other more familiar parent. This is true of very young children. When my youngest son was a toddler we were practically inseparable. He went everywhere with me and hardly paid any attention to his father at all. Then one day I decided to cut and color my hair. The moment my son saw me, he started to cry and clung tenaciously to his father. He wouldnít come near me and every time I approached him, he ran the other way. It wasnít until after I restored my hair to its natural color that he slowly began to accept me again.

    Even if Dad has always had a beard and then decides to go clean-shaven, a very young child may react adversely to the change. When something about one parent becomes familiar to a young child, he or she will turn to the other more familiar parent. Children identify with familiarity, which is why they sometimes prefer an old toy to a new one.

    If your child prefers your partner to you, donít make a big deal of it. Ask yourself why. Is your partner the one who is home most often with the child? Are you more of a disciplinarian than a playtime partner? Have you changed your appearance recently? If you have changed your appearance, give your child time to adjust to the new you. If youíre the one setting all the rules, get your partner in on the ground rules too. Both parents should share in all aspects of parenting; that includes discipline and fun. Try to arrange play dates and activities for your child that both you and your partner can participate in.

    Remember that your child loves both of you even if he or she does play favorites every now and then. There are times when a child may seem closer to Mom and other times when he or she may seem closer to Dad. Children bond with both their parents and they do go through phases and natural cycles.

    Written by Darlene ZagataRate this article:

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