Mom Wants To 'Win Back' 19-Month-Old Daughter's Affection Because She's More Bonded To Her Dad

Toddler favoritism is a difficult parenting phase.

Mom and daughter kelvin agustinus / Pexels

Parenting a toddler is no easy feat. While toddlers experience the full range of emotions, they have limited language skills, and aren’t always able to express their needs. They know what they like and don’t like, but can’t necessarily say why.

This can be especially hard when toddlers show favoritism towards one parent over the other, a developmental phase that’s entirely common and normal. Despite the universality of this experience, parents can still feel hurt when their toddler shows a certain parental preference.


One mom wrote into the r/Parenting subreddit with these exact concerns. She qualified just how much she loves her 19-month-old daughter, explaining, “I never yell at her, I give her lots of affection and attention, talk to her all the time, read to her, play with her.”

She also noted that her daughter “loves being outdoors and her dad is great with taking her to the playground… and great at making her laugh.”

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The mom wants to 'win back' her daughter's affection after stating that her daughter and husband 'have developed a really special bond.'

The bond is so deep that her daughter prefers to be held, cuddled, and cared for by her dad. “If he enters the room and I’m holding her, she’ll try to leap out of my arms to get to him,” she said. “If I enter a room and he’s holding her, she won’t even let me come near her, she’ll push me away.”


“I feel like when he’s not around, she tolerates me… sometimes, she kicks and screams to get away from me so she can be with her dad,” the mom continued.

The mom listed various reasons that her daughter might feel less bonded to her. She explained that her daughter started daycare, and adjusted well to the change in routine. 

She also mentioned that she’s currently pregnant with her second baby. At the beginning of her pregnancy, she had bad morning sickness and struggled with major fatigue.

“I’m ashamed to admit there were times then when I left the TV on for an hour or two for her to watch while I passed out on the couch,” she said, explaining that she feels much better now and tries to engage her daughter in daily activities. She explained that she’s reduced her daughter’s nighttime nursing sessions to manage her own levels of exhaustion. 


“Her apathy towards me is really getting to me,” the mom stated. “What can I do to win her back?”

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Other parents on the Reddit thread offered examples of similar experiences, phases when their young children preferred one parent over another. 

“Don’t take it personally,” advised one parent. “You’re a good mom and she’s a good kid and she has a good dad.” 

That same parent offered guidance for the mom, telling her to “just keep being present and validate her and empathize with her, especially when doing things that are hard for her.”


“Allow her to state her wants and needs without negative responses or taking it personally, but still doing what you feel is best for her,” they continued.

“Taking it personally will do more harm than good and may make her more likely to deny her feelings to make you feel better over time, which is not what you want for her development into a confident person who can say no when she needs to.” 

The parent who offered this sage and grounded advice gave reassurance to the mom, by telling her “you are doing a great job and she’s a lucky girl to have two wonderful parents who love her so much.”


An expert at YourTango revealed that her insecurities are commonplace.

Dr. Susan Pazak, a Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Coach validated the mom by explaining that “insecurities as parents are commonplace and are wise to be talked about to shift from those thoughts and feelings.”

Pazak also noted that the mom’s feeling that her toddler is “just tolerating” her presence, that statement is a “thought, not a feeling.”

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“The mother may feel sad that she thinks her toddler is just tolerating her, however, a toddler does not yet have that ability to think or act that way,” Pazak stated. “There will be times during development, especially at 19 months, that a child may be drawn to one parent in lieu of the other as they are curious and intrigued by some type of stimulation or newness that they have discovered. Be excited for them.”


Pazak advised that the mom should focus less on her insecurities, and “do the work to learn to value and love yourself, and then others will value and love you, especially your child.”

“Being secure and confident and valuing yourself is the best gift that a parent can give a child.”

She suggested that the mom try and channel gratitude for her toddler’s relationship with her husband. “Choose to learn to be secure as a mother and a father as they are very special, distinct, and unique roles,” Pazak said, emphasizing that parental roles “cannot be compared.” 


“Comparison is the thief of all joy,” Pazak continued. “Instead choose to value yourself as a mother and value your partner as a father.” 

“Remember you both are two of your child’s very favorite people,” Pazak affirmed. “Be happy for each other as you both are navigating your roles and choose to be pleased with the parenting that you offer and the loving responses that you receive.”

Pazak’s guidance is a reminder for all parents to meet their children where they’re at, and to find joy in the relationships they’ve established with each other.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.