Parenting is like a competitive game. Parents need to tame the baby, fight exhaustion, and survive the challenge called parenthood. Often two teams are formed: moms vs. dads. But who’s better at parenting?
Everyone has a different parenting style. Some dads and moms read all the available literature on pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Some rely on advice and family support. Others, including myself, prefer surprises. Nevertheless, everyone is the same: we all are learning to be good parents.
Yet, many children go through the so-called "daddy phase", which is related to vital psychological factors, such as attachment style, object permanence, and separation anxiety. Experts reveal that babies are more attached to the primary caregiver, which often is the mom. When children develop a positive attachment style and realize that the primary caregiver still exists even when they are not there, they can feel safe and explore other relationships. And this is when dad becomes more interesting.
Although clinical psychologist Tarryn Kelly confirms that the daddy phase "complements the relationship the child has with their mom," moms often feel excluded and hurt when they see that their kid prefers dad more. Currently, my baby prefers her dad, and it’s heartbreaking to see her cry when I take her from her father’s arms.
So, let’s hear why some kids secretly prefer dad. In the end, mothers and fathers do differ. Moms, just remember all those awful dad jokes and you'll feel better.
Most of all, moms should realize that love has nothing to do with favoritism!
20 Pages & Pens
Kids love books, stories, and weird creatures. It's not a secret that reading helps children develop numerous skills. Researchers believe that reading fosters one's imagination and creativity. On top of that, it is a fun and bonding activity.
Still, many kids prefer when their dad reads to them. A study revealed that children benefit more from their dad reading than their mom. Expert Dr. Duursma told telegraph.co.uk, "The impact is huge, particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two. Reading is seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them - it’s special."
19 Splashing Fun
Bath time can be fun, especially with dad. Foam, toys, and splashing water. It’s also a relaxing and bonding time, supported by the release of oxytocin in babies. Kids prefer spending time with daddy... because men often create more of a mess than women. David, father of two, told Daddilife.com, "Bathing my eldest daughter was a lesson in resigning yourself to the inevitable… Don’t bring your phone to the party. I put mine down next to the bath once and turned around to the sight of my daughter pouring water on it from a jug."
Interestingly, a study showed that kids who weren’t bathed by their fathers were three times more likely to experience social anxiety and behavioral issues.
18 Yummy, Yummy In My Tummy!
As writer M.F.K. Fischer said, "First we eat, then we do anything else." So true: food is life. While cooking is still the preserve of women, cooking with dad can be fun. On top of that, cooking with dad helps kids break stereotypes and realize that cooking is not only woman’s work. Also, parents should let their children help in the kitchen because, in the end, cooking is a family activity.
Yet, many moms feel excluded when their child prefers their dad. A mother who struggled with postnatal depression told Daily Mail, "I love my children with all my heart but if they cry it is their father that they want." It will pass.
17 Some Educational Shopping
Shopping with kids can be a torture. Children scream, giggle, cry, touch, and throw things. Still, researchers state that shopping can be an educational activity, especially for older children. Letting kids hand the money to the cashier, refusing to pile the trolley up high, and explaining the difference between want and need can be beneficial.
While parental favoritism is real, kids also have a favorite parent, and many admit secretly that they prefer shopping with dad. Well, kids love anyone who gives them sweets and toys. A mother told babycenter.com, "We argue over whether it's okay to buy them toys just for the heck of it. He thinks it's fine, I don't." What about you?
16 Dad Scores!
Regular exercising is a crucial aspect of child development. Research shows that parental involvement, particularly by fathers, in sports is important. According to educatedsporstparent.com, having a male role model can help kids develop social skills and self-esteem. Even famous stars admit that sports and fathers go hand in hand. As David Beckham said, "As soon as I could walk, he made sure I had a football to kick." Note that researchers say that if fathers show high levels of frustration, this can lessen the child’s social skills.
To be honest, although I describe myself as a sporty person (at least I can win at a beer drinking competition), I can already see that my daughter loves running around with her dad.
15 Those Not-So-Funny Dad Jokes
Let's admit it, dads are the fun parent. Just forget about those bad dad jokes! Moms may cook and help with the homework, but a child may want to be only around dad. Clinical psychologist Rockwell says that moms and dads have different roles, "A child may be more comfortable talking to mom but going out and playing in the backyard with dad."
Funny enough, Dailey, a mother who's had a favorite parent herself, told metroparent.com, "I look at how close I am with my dad and how many times my dad and I ostracized my mom. It was bad… I worry they’ll do that to me." Who do you prefer?
14 Education Is Sweet... With Dad
Neuroscientists have proven that boys and girls learn differently. Girls produce more oxytocin and serotonin, so they can stay calmer for a long period. They also have numerous interests and learn languages quicker. Boys, on the other hand, learn better through movement and visual experience. They are good at spatial tasks.
Thus, many kids prefer learning with their dad. Fathers entertain their kids, which motivates them more. According to psychologytoday.com, this is normal: kids tend to prefer the parent who lets them play or doesn’t insist on homework. Yet, experts say that the desire to be the preferred parent should not affect one’s parenting style.
13 Getting The Mess Cleaned Up
Kids admit that tidying up with dad is easier. Simply because dads and kids might end up watching TV together. Of course, moms and dads face the mess together but dads tend to be more relaxed. Experts explain this phenomenon with the fact that women often fight social pressure. Social pressure affects even working moms: people say women must be good mothers, workaholics, and homemakers.
However, parents must be able to promote responsibility in their kids. Cleaning together and having specific chores can foster a positive attitude. Simple steps like making the bed every single morning can help kids cope with more difficult tasks and appreciate aesthetics. Don't you want a little helper?
12 Going Into the Wild
Hiking, traveling, and camping are great bonding experiences. Spending more time outside is healthy and fun. Personally, I hate gender stereotypes and in fact, in my family, it’s me who can set up a tent. However, camping with dad is often preferred by children. Due to evolutionary differences, men are perceived as hunters and heroes.
Experts who believe in this evolutionary explanation claim that these social roles are important for toddlers. Simply because kids need consistency. In fact, some psychologists say that when the mother is the primary caregiver, the father should be the parent who imposes rules. Psychologist Carol Gilligan told iol.co.za that dads often stress on justice, which can teach kids how to survive in the wild.
11 Choosing Between Mama or Dada
Some kids admit they prefer spending their free time with their dad - simply because dads can be a source of comfort and fun. Women often juggle career, family life, and social pressure, and often their free time is a hectic moment in the abyss of exhaustion. Dads can just switch off and enjoy a football game with kids and friends. So, young kids can easily get absorbed by these feelings of comfort.
And dad can become mom. Mother Angela-Jo Griffin shares her own experience, "She was saying, ‘Mama is the one I want to be around and Dada is the other person, and you’re Dada.’ It was a huge feeling of rejection. I felt like she did not want to have me as her mother." So familiar.
10 To Fight The Monsters Under The Bed
Parents are like kids: they are afraid of the dark. Not because of some imaginary creatures under the bed but because of their own little monsters who may wake up and cry at night. And often babies need daddy. Personally, I feel blessed - our little girl never needed any singing or rocking to fall asleep. Yet, recently she started waking up in the middle of the night, and it’s only her father who can help her calm down. Guess how I feel!
Experts claim that it's normal for kids to reject their mothers at some point. Psychologist Vanessa Lapointe explains that around the age of two kids become fascinated by dad, "As soon as they realize they’re a separate person, there’s this whole world of other people to explore." So, it's all fine!
9 Blah, Blah, Blah
Women are social creatures. Kids and moms talk a lot and mothers remember important dates, names, and small details. In fact, research in infants showed that moms were better at responding to babies’ vocalizations. However, some kids find it easier to talk to dad. Men tend to be direct, objective, and easy-going.
It’s not only teens who may become difficult with their mom. Sometimes even toddlers may begin shunning their mom. According to psychologytoday,com, development expert Lapointe claims that this may be due to a phenomenon called relationship polarization: "The frontal cortex is not yet fully developed, and they can only really gloom onto one relationship at a time." It's just a phase.
8 The Daddy Phase
Kids are amazing. They develop quickly and it’s normal for them to go through different phases. Many toddlers go through a daddy phase. As a result, many moms seek advice as they feel heartbroken.
According to youngparents.com, though, moms whose toddler goes through a daddy phase should not take it personally. They should get involved and feel confident that they are capable and loving parents. On top of that, they should discourage favoritism and stop the 'I’m close to Daddy' game when they notice this is a form of manipulation. Never show signs of anger or despair because toddlers may get confused about the family dynamics.
7 Favoritism Vs. Love
A recent study revealed that 3 out of 4 adult children would rather spend time with their mom. However, little kids often have a favorite parent and do not hesitate to show it. A mother shared online, "I’m a stay-at-home mum and my son is two years old. Recently I’ve noticed that he prefers his dad over me... It hurts and it’s making me wonder if maybe I’m not a good mum? Am I doing something wrong?"
Many moms feel this way, but experts explain that love and favoritism have nothing to do with each other. In the end, it’s just a phase and a form of manipulation. So just join the fun.
6 When They Want To Play Rough
Dads are superheroes. They can dress like superheroes. They can play with their kids. They can be fun. As a matter of fact, research suggests that dads are more likely to roughhouse than moms. Psychologist Larry Cohen told Live Science, "As long as there is the caveat that these are generalizations, a lot of dads have a special strength in physical play, rough-and-tumble play." This can be helpful in the teenage years when children start to differentiate between aggressive, playful, and intimate types of touch.
Moms, we should let dads be superheroes. What’s more, it’s been proven that playing supports the release of oxytocin - just like during nursing.
5 Or When They Just Want To Play
Dad jokes are notorious but kids love being around daddy. Why? Because dads are relaxed. Studies show that even when compared to laid-back moms, dads are more relaxed in their parenting style. Expert Cohen said, "I had a [male] friend who would say to their kids, 'Don't call me unless someone's bleeding.'" Dads can simply enjoy a football game with friends.
Therefore, some kids prefer hanging out with their dad and his friends. Which, moms, is okay. In fact, helicopter parenting is not healthy. Men are more tolerant of messes and may let their kids deal with difficulties. Being independent can help kids become confident adults.
4 Being Shoulder-to-shoulder
Kids love shoulder-to-shoulder activities and prefer spending time with their dad. From seeing a movie to camping and hiking, spending time with dad helps kids realize that there is always someone beside them. On the other hand, women are better at face-to-face activities, which helps kids build intimacy.
Sharing a hobby with dad is vital. In fact, according to a recent study, Dad’s acceptance may be the most important factor for kids. Research Ronald Rohner told Live Science, "Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults' sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers." Still, mama is lovely.
3 Who Do You Love More?
It’s not only kids. Fathers also love spending time with their kids. Studies show that fathers experience more meaning and positive emotions in their lives. Mothers, on the other hand, feel more anxious due to social pressure, exhaustion, and hormonal changes.
Thus, it’s important for society to stop judging women or ignoring men. Okay, men cannot give birth but it's clear they can be loving and caring. Mothers should let men be in charge of cooking, diapers, and grocery shopping. Simply because promoting equal roles in the family is a step towards gender equality. Because women's rights are human rights.
2 Protect Me
Traditionally, mothers are involved in practical aspects, while dads are involved in fun activities. They are also perceived as protectors. Experts say that the paternal role is paramount for child development: "Dad plays a big role in this as he helps the child negotiate her way around separating from mom and gaining this sense of independence."
Yet, mothers and fathers are equally important. But in the end, the modern understanding of parents and parenting needs to change. All should start with everyday things like TV commercials, which present the woman as a cleaning monster and the man as an absent workaholic. On top of that, same-sex parenting should also be a focus of research and social support.
1 Love Wins
To sum up, although moms and dads have different roles and parenting styles, we are the same: mothers and fathers are simply learning to be good parents. Seeing my baby girl happy in her dad’s arms makes me jealous, of course, but as experts say: favoritism has nothing to do with love.
Some kids secretly admit they prefer doing stuff with daddy, some choose mommy. So what? It’s just a phase. Love is the only thing that matters, and in a healthy environment, dads are essential as moms. In the end, parenting is not a competition: it’s teamwork. And love always wins!
References: daddilife.com, educatedsportsparent.com, iaim.net, https://www.iol.co.za, www.livescience.com, mashable.com, nytimes.com, psychologytoday.com, telegraph.co.uk, todaysparent.com, youngparents.com