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Mommyness or Daddyness

Do your child favor you or your co-parent? Relax, it’s normal and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. However, it can be stressful for both children and parents during periods of mommyness or daddyness.

When your child has a favorite…

Many children have, at least at times, a favorite parent. That children are mom-ish or dad-ish can be tough when the child lives alternately but children’s nature does not always adapt to our values. For the parent who is rejected, it can be tough to be rejected. For the “favorite”, it can become overwhelming so that one needs more relief. It is easy to get the idea that daddyness or mommyness is due to a parent spoiling the child or being too strict. But daddyness or motherness does not always have to do with how one has treated one’s child. It can be part of the development of attachment relationships. Remember this when it feels hopeless to be rejected or when a little person always wants to be close!

Tip! If your child is very maternal or papal, it may sometimes be appropriate to change the living schedule so that the child lives a little more with one parent. For example, add an extra night at the favorite parent’s during the other parent’s period.

Try different solutions

It can be tough when your child suddenly starts preferring one parent over the other, but try not to worry too much. It’s common for children to go through phases where they fixate on one parent, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong. The important thing is to stay calm and supportive. Try to avoid putting too much emphasis on the situation, and don’t give your child any practical reasons to choose one parent over the other. Sometimes a little extra attention from the “rejected” parent can help. Maybe try reading an extra bedtime story or spending some extra cuddle time with your child. If you do need to adjust your schedule, you can always go back to the way things were once your child is more evenly distributed in their preferences. Some children may actually prefer one parent over the other for their entire childhood, while others go through phases where they are neutral or change their favorite.

Malin Bergström
Child psychologist