If you’re a dad with multiple children, you have a favorite.
Don’t lie. This article isn’t here to judge you. It’s here to give advice on hiding your favoritism from second and third place babies. It’s also here to talk about when your child has a favorite parent.
Gun to our head, we all have preferences. Here’s how you can avoid getting feelings over it and avoid giving strong, negative feelings to your least favorite children.
When You Aren’t the Favorite
It can hurt when your child expresses preference for the other parent. When waking up the tiny pumpkin with a “Good morning!” only to hear back “No, Mommy!” can be very disheartening. Don’t let it get you down!
Keeping yourself even-tempered and positive can be hard in front of a potential toddler meltdown, but phrases like “Oh! You want to see what Mom is doing too? Let’s get ready for the day and meet her,” can model positive communication to a toddler. Remember that these are children; they aren’t killer communication experts, so responding in a way that addresses their potential wants and needs is a great way to get them to be better communicators in the future.
“No, Mom!” could be expressing that they miss their mom, that they want to go to the park today (and normally Mom takes them to the park), that they want more control in their lives, or that Mom is better at storytime (because that vocal range though). All of these complex ideas are boiled down into a screaming preference that your reaction may make worse.
Being calm, positive, and investigative with your line of questioning may help you get better information from your child and avoid a meltdown.
When You Have a Favorite
Maybe you don’t have a favorite. But for up to two thirds of American parents, favoritism does exist. Whether it’s because you got to spend more time with your first child, because one of them will go fishing with you, or because you are a human being with preferences, don’t let them know.
While you can’t always play fully impartial, as some children may require more time than others (a newborn may require more attention than a teenager), it is important to make your children feel like they are important to you. When you have a genuine favorite, evaluating your actions and time spend with each child is vital to their self-worth.
Sure, you might be able to take Sally out fishing every week because you both genuinely enjoy the activity, but are you taking the time to play dress-up with Susan? Just because you don’t enjoy the activities Susan does, doesn’t give you an excuse to not spend time with her.
This is your child; you have a big impact on their life. Make sure they know that they matter to you and that their value to you is equivalent of their siblings.
Building in Bonding
Whether you have a favorite or your child has a preference that is clearly not you, consider doing more family activities. It can help you bond and spend more time with your children. You could go camping, try a road trip, or just take them to a street fair.
Camping is a great family activity since it is fairly low cost and offers a variety of learning activities. You do have to be careful, as when fall comes along, being super prepared while camping becomes more important. While camping, you can bond by fishing, picking berries, cooking in new and exciting ways, or teaching your children about fire safety around the campfire or tying knots. Participating in bonding activities can help fill in gaps in your day-to-day activities that lead towards favoritism.
You have favorites. Your children may have favorites. But you are an adult. Managing your own favoritism and effectively communicating with your children can help them live happy, better lives.