July 24, 2019

When Kids Prefer the Other Parent Over You (Or You Over Them)

Why do kids prefer one parent over the other? Why do those allegiances shift as kids grow? Are we supposed to ignore our own hurt feelings because it’s developmentally appropriate? Or are there times when we should push back?  Here’s how to know.


Most of us have been (for better and for worse) recipients of the “only Mommy” level of attention from our little ones-- the sort of singular devotion that leaves our partners decidedly out in the cold. Many of us have also been on the outside looking in, with "Daddy’s girl" giving us none of the love, just eye rolls and the distinct impression that we rank not only second, but dead last. 

Why do kids prefer one parent over the other? Why do those allegiances shift? Are we supposed to ignore it, and our hurt feelings, because it’s normal and developmentally appropriate? Or are there times when we should push back against this behavior? Will it get even worse if we don't? 

Here are links to research and other writing on the topic we discuss in this episode:

Janet Lansbury: When Children Prefer One Parent/ Ellen Weber Libby Ph.D. for Psychology Today: IS THERE A FAVORITE PARENT?/ Carl Pickhardt for Psychology Today: Adolescence and the Case of Odd Parent Out/ Kendra Cherry for Very Well Mind: The Oedipus Complex in Children

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