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. He gets super excited when my husband gets home, but if I go away for a few hours he doesn’t really react when I come back. It hurts and it’s making me wonder if maybe I’m not a good mum? Am I doing something wrong?
Firstly, let me reassure you that you’re not doing anything wrong.
The very fact that your son doesn’t have extreme reactions to your leaving or returning is a sign that you have created a secure and relaxed environment for him to thrive in.
However, it’s common for the parent who stays at home with their child to be seen as so much a fixture of their daily routine that the child feels very bonded with that parent, and so almost become oblivious.
The return of the other parent, who has been out for the day, is often seen by toddlers as an ‘event’, which provokes a greater sense of excitement. But this is more because he feels so secure in your love, he knows he can come back to you any time.
Add in the fickle nature of two-year-olds and the fact that you are not only his playmate but also his disciplinarian, then it can seem like Daddy is the fun one when he comes home.
Your son is very young still and he’s going through a steep learning curve. So, stay calm when he ignores your return and don’t react in any way. Carry on showing him that consistent love and care and certainly don’t make any attempts to try to woo him back by spoiling him.
It’s my experience that dads often play more with their kids, so even things up a bit through greater involvement in your son’s imaginary play. Get down to his level and have fun with him or read him a bedtime story, so that he associates these pleasurable times with you too.
And finally, children go through phases, so it’s worth remembering that this is probably the first of many! The pendulum will keep swinging back and forth between you and his dad, but the main thing is that you are united in your love for him and are consistent when it comes to bringing him up to be happy, healthy and successful.