How do you handle it when your children seem to love one parent more than the other?
How do you handle it when your children seem to love one parent more than the other?

'My daughter loves her dad more than me'

Oftentimes parents are the ones accused of 'playing favourites' when it comes to one or more of their children, but what if it's the other way round? How do you handle it when your children seem to love one parent more than the other?

This week on The Juggling Act podcast, Kidspot spoke with Alex Fevola about how she built her work empire whilst raising young kids.

But first, let's talk about our listener question: "Ever since I've gone back to work full-time my daughter seems to be all about her dad and not wanting to come to me as much. I know she's only three and I shouldn't take it personally but is there anything I can do to win her over again?"

Sarah was very interested in the answer to this question. "I live in this situation and I'm dying to know if there's a way to fix it," she said, admitting that since her second child came along, her eldest son has blatantly ignored her over his father. "As soon as Dad's around, it's all about Dad," she said.

Mel said kids go through stages. "They're so clever - they know how to play you and they absolutely are playing into your weaknesses!" She said she felt sorry for the mum, "She's heading back to work and she'd be feeling so guilty and stressed and we've all been there and it's like they have this innate ability to pick out that fear or worry you've got going on."

She said her daughter had gone through a similar phase when she was a toddler but her way of coping was to embrace it. "I think you just have to go, 'you know what? Fine! This is my break time! Make the most of it- have a bath, have a glass of wine!'"

"It's very common"

Kidspot also spoke with Jessica Staniland, Clinical Psychologist at The Child Development Clinic to get her thoughts.

"We hear this sort of thing so often from both mums and dads. It's hard to find the right balance between work and family time and it's hard not to feel guilty when you're at work all day and feel hurt when you then come home and your child doesn't want to come to you," Jessica said.

But she reassured that toddlers and preschoolers go through these phases where they commonly play favourites.

"Because they're arseholes!" Mel quipped.

"I think it's really important to remember it's not personal," Jessica said. "Toddlers live in the moment."

She said the alternative is to try and acknowledge her feelings and try to empathise with her daughter. "Instead of showing you that you're really upset, try to negotiate with her and recognise her desire to want to be with her dad, but find some fun things you can do together... Mondays could me 'mummy Mondays' where she gets to do something that she really loves doing and you can find things that you really love to do together and make them a regular occurrence."

In any case, Jessica said the most important thing was to not get too upset by it. "Try to remain as calm and empathetic as possible."

Have you got your own question you want answered? We have experts in medicine, relationships, child psychology, finance, and the law (I know right? We have everything covered!) and if you want to pick their brains you should join our Facebook group: Working Mums Australia and post them there.

This story was originally published on Kidspot and has been reproduced here with permission.

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