When Mommy Just Won’t Do

Father checking daughter's temperatureWhen my son is sick, it is not really me that he wants; he wants his daddy. If I want to snuggle with him, or to give him his medicine or juice or crackers, my son will say, “No, Daddy do it.” For whatever reason, he wants his daddy to tend to his needs when he’s ill. He may say similar things when he’s well, but both Daddy and I can help him and he definitely loves to help us.

There are times I feel sad that my son does not want me when he’s sick, but I know it’s nothing that I have done to make him feel that I can’t take care of him. My husband feels like he can’t do anything but tend to our son when he’s sick, and for the most part it appears to be true. My husband has a difficult time excusing himself even to go the bathroom because our son will yearn for him. When a child is sick, five minutes can feel like an eternity! I still try to help both of my guys, but it is easier to allow Daddy to do it all because our son is insistent on who takes care of him.

How do I feel about that? Well, I don’t really like it, to be honest. I’m sure most of us moms feel that we can take care of our sick children “better” than our male counterparts. But it’s not about who is the better nurturer. My husband does wish that our son would not be so dependent upon him when he’s sick and he knows it won’t always be like that. And yes, at times I feel a little sad and jealous, but it does not last long because I know my spouse is a good caretaker, a nurturer who tends well to our son—and seeing that outweighs my thoughts and feelings. My son happens to prefer his daddy when he is sick, and that’s OK.

Each parent adds a lot to the equation of raising a healthy child. Yes, some children have single moms, single dads, divorced parents, stepparents, no parents, or whatever the case is, but at certain times in a child’s life, he or she will prefer one parent over the other. I remember growing up that if I was unsure about something, I would talk with my mom because she was home more, but when my dad came home, I also wanted his advice and wisdom. Dads are just as wise, nurturing, and loving, and are just as great teachers and cuddlers as moms. Yes, there are dads out there who do not show it, or who don’t want to be seen that way, but dads can have a special effect on their children.

This is not about dads vs. moms. Moms and dads are simply different. They both are able to take care of children, be good providers, be menders of wounds and broken hearts, etc.  Each parent has a different knack, a different way of doing things. When both parents are present in a child’s life, to whom he or she will go in a particular situation may vary. Some dads may need a little help in the nurturing department, or more practice in the mending of children’s hurts and boo boos, but there are women out there who need a little help, too.

Some recommendations:

  • For moms: Help your spouse be a part of your child’s life. Allow your spouse to help you take care of your child, have him kiss your child’s boo boos, and allow him to put the child to bed. Some guys may surprise you on how natural they are at taking care of a child. Recognize that having your spouse take care of your child has nothing to do with you not being a good mom; it’s about allowing your spouse to be another caretaker in your child’s life. Appreciate that dads have different yet healthy ways to connect with a child. Sometimes dads can be softies, sure, such as when a child needs to nap but does not want to. You may think Daddy should just put him or her down no matter what because that’s what you would do, but let that go and be happy that your spouse is helping out.
  • For dads: Help Mommy out. Be active in your child’s life. Even though it may not feel “natural” or you are not sure you will do it as well as Mommy, get involved. Understand that you, too, bring important qualities to the parenting process. It may feel weird at times, but when you’re involved, your child will learn to trust and appreciate you, and will see that you have something just as special as Mommy. Be a great team player for Mommy and take over when she’s tired or stressed. Know that you have great power, just as mommy does.

Each parent has strengths and weaknesses. Working together can help your child feel safe and secure.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kelly Sanders, MFT, Child and Adolescent Issues Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Kellie

    March 27th, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    that is so funny cuz i was the exact same way i always wanted my daddy when i was sick. haha but then again i was a daddys girl from the get go so i guess it makes sense but my mom had a hard time with me when i was sick and my daddy was on the road. i guess you never know who your kid is going to want until the time comes.

  • Naomi

    March 27th, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    When my kids were little, it always stung when they wanted their dad more than me. They both wanted me all the time when they were younger, but as they got older things began to change. Mommy was no longer the be all and end all in their worlds. Making room for their changing affections was difficult to say the least. I think these suggestions are really good ones and I hope they will be helpful to those who find themselves in this position.

  • justin

    March 27th, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Parents should be glad when their kids favor the other parent-it means the other parent is involved and they aren’t having to parent alone.

  • Kelvin R

    March 27th, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    I wish my mom had let me spend more time with my dad when i wanted to.

    All too soon my dad was gone so I never got to get close to him like my sister did. One day he was there and the next day he had a heart attack and was gone.

    It is so important to not stand in the way of your kids relationship with their parents if you want my opinion. you can be jealous all you want but know that is an adult problem.

    You will give the kid the adult problem if you are not careful.

  • Melodie

    March 27th, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    The best dad that ever lived was my dad. He always took such great care of me-sick or healthy. My mom died when I was little so it was just me and him against the world. Greatest man who ever lived.

  • holly d

    March 27th, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    It’s the total opposite at my house-

    my girls have always wanted me and not their dad for any thing, big or small

    a lot of it has to do with the fact that he travels a lot for his job so I am the primary care giver 99 percent of the time, which you would think would make them miss him more. I know that they do but I guess that they just get used to the way we always do things when he is not home and it is hard for them to break that routine.

    and I know that I am guilty too because sometimes it is just easier to do it myself than to have to listen to the whining that would accompany stepping away from it and forcing them to let him help.

  • Jim.T

    March 27th, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    In my house it would always be me gravitating towards mom and my sister towards dad. We made great teams together and even when we had to face off in a family game or sport I would always team up with mom and my sister with dad.

    I do not remember what triggered this but it was always nice to be closer to mom. Have always felt more comfortable with her. And my sister says the same about dad. On the whole I am extremely happy that we were and still are a great happy family who can get along with each other so very well. And the family certainly knows how to take care of each other, whether as children in the past or as adults now in the present.

  • Andi

    March 28th, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I know that this sounds terrible, but I feel so guilty when my kids want their dad over me. It makes me feel like I’m not a good mom, even though I know that they love me. I am ashamed to admit that there are times when I will try to talk them into wanting me instead, and I know that it shouldn’t be like a popularity contest but sometimes I can’t help but feel like it is.

  • nfd

    March 29th, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    I’m sorry, but are you saying that there are homes out there where mom is not number one? And by that I mean the only person that the young kids think can do anything or anything for them? I feel like I am on call for my kids 24/7 because they won’t ever let my husband do anything for them. It isn’t that he doesn’t try, because bless his heart, he tries. But they just aren’t willing to let him do it without a fight, or at least a good cry or two. Sometimes I feel like pulling out my hair it gets so frustraing to actually have a two parent home but the kids fail to recognize that!

  • marilyn

    March 29th, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    Although I wanted to be with my dad more I had to move with my mom after they separated. Children do have their parent of choice, and really this doesn’t mean they dont love the other parent. It only means they like and are more comfortable with one better. Pulling them away from that parent is not good and as adults both parents need to think this through.

  • karly

    March 31st, 2013 at 12:33 AM

    it is good if a child demands the father’s attention at times.because most of ten it is the mother who is the primary caregiver so turning to dad once in a while is a good thing,at least for us mothers! :D

  • Jameson

    April 1st, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I think that a lot of this is all about the dads making the same time for the kids that the moms have always had to.
    When I was growing up of course we all wanted my dad because he wasn’t around as much so we wanted to demand that time from him when he was.
    We never stopped to think about how much that hurt my mom though because hse was the one who was there for us day in and day out even when he wasn’t.
    I think a lot of the time it all comes down to us wanting what we typically don’t get as much, but not really thinking if we are hurting someone else along the way.

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