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Reality Check: Daddy's Girl

Q. I'm home with my 2-year-old daughter all day, but when her father's here, she doesn't want anything to do with me. Why am I being rejected?

A.
You're not being rejected, just taken for granted, which is a sign that your daughter feels secure about you. It hurts when you're the one feeding, teaching, napping with, and disciplining your child all day, and then along comes Dad with his helicopter game, and you're history. But it doesn't mean your daughter doesn't love you as much as her father; you're your child's 12-hours-a-day routine companion, and Dad is the 2-hours-a-day novelty.

Children, at various stages, will favor one parent over the other. Often, the desired parent is the one a child doesn't spend the bulk of her time with. This may be a way of strengthening their bond in short, intense periods of time together. It's nothing personal. You'll have your turn someday soon, and then you'll see that while adoration is flattering, being the object of desire can certainly have its downside too. My friend Denise compares her current popularity with her children to being "a rock star with two really crazed groupies constantly clinging to my legs. I've considered hiring security," she quips.

For now, go ahead and let your daughter and her father have their happy reunions, and try not to resent it. When he comes home and you're suddenly invisible, take advantage of it and give yourself some time off. Take a bath, read a newspaper, go for a walk, phone a friend. You deserve a break, and maybe it's better if you're not there to watch the daddy-daughter lovefest.

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