My Kids Totally Play Favourites

Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. This post was inspired by the Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This we’re reflecting on favouritism in relationships with children, parents, siblings and more. Read to the end to find a list of links to the other fabulous carnival participants.

As a mom of two, I try really hard not to play favourites. We all know it’s a major parenting no no. While it’s true that at certain times I’ll find one of my kids more, erm, challenging than the other, I think I do pretty well on the whole. I do my best to meet everyone’s needs, I try to keep an eye to fairness, and I lavish affection as often as I can. My kids, on the other hand, aren’t as considerate. They make no secret of the fact that while they love their father very much, Mama is number one in their books.

It’s not really surprising that my kids turn to me first when they’re hurt, sad, scared, angry, confused, in need of help, happy, want to tell a joke, looking for a lost toy, etc. I was the one who breastfed them for years. I was the one who took year-long maternity leaves. I was the one who reduced my work schedule and then started working from home in order to spend more time with them. I am now, and have always been, their primary caregiver. Of course I’m their go-to person.

Me and my girl
Me and my daughter

While it is kind of lovely to be so adored by two little people, there are downsides to being the favourite. When a kid wakes up at 5:00am and is looking for company, I’m the person who gets a little finger jammed into my eye socket because a child is trying to pry my eye open. For the first three or so years of each of my kids’ lives, I was the only one who put them to bed every night, so I had to always be home at bedtime. Even today, I am the person who fields all the questions and requests. How do you spell “galactic”? Where are my shoes? I need a glass of water! I want to do a puzzle, and I don’t want to do it by myself! Ask Mom.

This isn’t exactly a great deal for my husband, either, who is in fact a competent and loving parent. When I’m not here the kids somehow survive, but when I am and he steps in to help he’s often met with resistance and rejection. There have been countless times when I just needed a break, and in trying to give me one he ended up holding a child who was wailing for Mama. On these occasions I try to give them room to work it out, but it’s really untenable for everyone: the distraught child, my husband who is just trying to help, and me as I rush through the shower I dared to have because I just can’t handle listening to the complete distress.

Goofing around
Me and my son

Now that my firstborn is seven years old, things are a little better. She has better manners, and she is less dependent on any single adult. There are more and more situations, now, where she turns to her father. But there are still those moments when I am the only one who will do. The really bittersweet part of it for me is that as those situations grow less, I am torn between enjoying my increasing freedom and missing that feeling of being my daughter’s sun, moon and stars. There’s simply no winning at this game of parenthood.

And so, when my kids cling to both of my legs so that I can’t walk, or when I’ve been trapped indoors with them on a long rainy day, I try to remember that one day I will miss this. There are upsides and downsides to being the favourite, but whatever else this situation is it’s temporary. One day, probably, someone else altogether will be the favourite. And then I may miss that little jab to the eye at 5:00am. Maybe.

Visit Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Taboo Carnival. Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!

  • Playing Favourites — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school looks at how her intense parenting style has created what ‘looks’ like favourites but is more causal than reality.

  • Taking Longer to Fall in Love with My Second Baby — Dionna at Code Name: Mama fell helplessly, powerlessly in love with her first-born. Love with her second-born has not been as easy, but does that mean #1 is her favorite?
  • Yes, Parents Have A Favorite Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her thoughts on parents having a favorite child and how this may have long term effects on both the favored and unfavored child.
  • Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same? — At Authentic Parenting, Laura investigates whether or not we should provide exactly the same for our children financially.
  • My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at Strocel.com tries hard not to play favourites with her kids – but they make no secret of which parent they prefer.
  • What makes a favorite? — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders what caused her grandparents and parents to choose favorites. She also considers possible causes for her own favoritism.
  • There Are No Favorites (I Hate You All The Same) — Amy at Anktangle guest hosts about it being easy to see how a cycle of conditional love can make a mother keep her children at arms reach.
  • Mommy Dearest or Darling Daddy? — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro guest hosts about every parent having faults. Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders why she would prefer one parent over the other and whether this applies to every situation or can it vary?
  • On having two kids & not playing fair — Lauren at Hobo Mama learned from her mother that you don’t raise children based on what’s fair but on what’s right for each child.
  • More Than the Kid Sister — Amy of Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work always felt that she lived in the shadow of her older brother’s accomplishments, until her parents made her aware that her personality and passion have always brought them joy and pride.
  • The Ugly Side of Favoritism — Shannon of Pineapples and Artichokes shares a guest post with a warning: Don’t favor one child over the other.
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    Comments

    1. We have a similar situation in our house, and I think (like you said) my son tends to prefer me over his Papa simply because I’m his primary caregiver. I relish those moments that I get to be alone, and they make the clingy, needy times much easier to enjoy and appreciate.
      Amy @ Anktangle’s last post … Shame on you, AAP.My Profile

    2. It definitely gets more even as they get older, although even when he was little Angus went through periods where he seemed to prefer my husband over me – they never lasted long. I’m not sure how eager I am to look at the other posts, particularly the one titled Yes, parents do have a favourite child. I have heard people say ‘he’s my favourite’, with higher or lower degrees of humour. I kind of feel like I’m lucky that my kids are so different, so it’s really impossible to compare them, and I love them both for different things. It can kind of be an uncomfortable subject, so I guess it’s good to talk about, but I’m kind of thinking I might rather stay in denial on this one.

    3. I can so relate to this! Primary caregiver seems to come with the title of favorite! While daddy is still the “fun” parent, I am the preferred parent. I see this evolving as my daughter gets older though. It did with me and my parents.

      Thanks for a great post as part of the Taboo Carnival! I think a lot of readers will relate!

    4. I totally could have written this post (only mine are still very young)! In fact, this was the third angle I considered writing. (Don’t you think TWO articles in one carnival is enough?)

      With Sasha, though… I went back to work FT during the day so Daddy was the primary caregiver for quite a while. It doesn’t matter, Mommy is still her favorite. She even refused bottles and would wait for me to get home to nurse. It is so hard on my husband when she runs from him. It irritates him when she is mad at me and still chooses to come to ME for consoling.

      I’ve just had to stop feeling guilty about it, though. I can’t change their relationship. It is up to him to create bonding moments with her. And I think he is on that right track now. As she has gotten older and perhaps especially since I’ve had a new baby, he spends a little more time playing with her.

      Great post. Thanks so much for sharing in our first Taboo Carnival. I hope you’ll return next time!
      Momma Jorje’s last post … Mamatography – Week 33My Profile

    5. Great post, well-written, and totally relate to all of it!
      Janine’s last post … Better than thrifting – Family heirloomsMy Profile

    6. I guess I’m unusual — my kids like Daddy best. My older son, especially, has been crazy about his dad since at least six months old. If Daddy is home, he HAS to have Daddy. Every morning when Daddy leaves for work, there are gallons of tears and lots of wailing. Every evening I get completely ditched when Daddy walks in the door. I kind of like it. I mean, I have to have them both all the time when Daddy’s not around, so when he is, I always get a break from at least one child, and sometimes even the baby would rather have him than me — milk notwithstanding!

      I’ve always been the primary caregiver; the kids very rarely get left with Dad because I enjoy bringing them with me on errands and things. And yet they like him best. Maybe it’s because he’s so fun, and unlike many dads, he is great for snuggles too. Oh, and he lets him watch TV and eat junk food … that may be something of a factor too.

      When the whole family is together, we tend to pair up: Daddy gets the toddler and I get the baby. We each carry “our” kid, buckle them into their carseats, keep track of their supplies, and put them to bed at night. It makes everything SO MUCH easier. I do feel a little left out sometimes, that my older boy never wants me for anything, but on the other hand we have lots of good times during the workday.

      I was amazed at how not-jealous the toddler was when his baby brother was born. Then I handed the baby to Daddy and it caused a meltdown of the first order …. that is HIS daddy and he does not like to share. Ah well … for now he doesn’t really have to share very often.
      Sheila’s last post … Why I wear pantsMy Profile

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    1. [...] My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at Strocel.com tries hard not to play favourites with her kids – but they make no secret of which parent they prefer. [...]

    2. [...] My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at Strocel.com tries hard not to play favourites with her kids – but they make no secret of which parent they prefer. [...]

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