Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Subject: Toddler prefers men
Question: My 2 year old son seems to have bonded more closely with me, his father, rather than his mother. If he's upset, he calms down much faster if I hold him rather than his mother. There have been several occasions where he bumps his head or hurts himself in some way and he would push aside or squirm away from his mother and walk all the way across the house to be consoled by his father. Whenever he is in a room with both a male and female care-giver (grandparents or even strangers) he always seem to prefer the men. I hope this is just a phase because my wife's feelings are really getting hurt.
Answer: Dear Josh,
It is not uncommon for a child to show a preference for one caregiver over the other. That he seeks out comfort is a good thing. That your wife is feeling rejected is understandable however she needs to work through these feelings and realize that children go through stages and show preferences. Showing preferences is something he will not outgrow. In the meantime, I hope you appreciate his seeking you out and feeling comfortable with your relationship. Relationships with his father is very important in his development.
If this "phase" does not expire in a few months then looking at how your parenting and caregiving styles are different should be a priority. Often what a child is showing a preference for is the style of reacting to him or how he is handled. Paying closer attention will give you clues about what he likes and dislikes.
M Kay Keller