My Kids Like Their Dad More Than They Like Me

How do I cope with my kids not liking me?

Last updated on Sep 17, 2023

dad having fun with his kids Jose Calsina | Olesia Bilkei | Shutterstock

By Katharine Stahl

I've been ignoring the signs for years.

My husband gets a hero's welcome from our children every time he enters the house, while I have to yell "I'm home" at least twice before anyone comes running. They seem to actually listen when he talks and occasionally even follow his directions. Our kids regularly get in crying, screaming matches about who gets Daddy to put them to bed. The loser gets Mommy. Heck, they'll even fight over who gets to sit closest to Dad at dinner.


It's time I accepted reality: my kids like their dad more than me, and I'm calling it out.

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Sure, my husband is a great father. He's home every night to help with baths and bedtime. He spends quality time with them on the weekends, letting me sleep in while he makes breakfast (frozen waffles for everyone!) and gets them ready for the day. He's never been afraid to change diapers or handle a middle-of-the-night crying session. He provides a great life for our family but constantly tells me that I, as a stay-at-home mom, have a harder job.


But here are a few questions that I guarantee he couldn't answer: our kids' teachers' names, their school schedules, when they got their last immunizations, who likes to eat their waffle with the pink fork (our son) and who will only eat with adult-size utensils (our daughter), where each of their favorite toys is currently hiding, and what, in fact, this week's favorite toy actually is.

I, on the other hand, know each and every detail of their lives intimately, but apparently, this knowledge gives me absolutely zero advantage in the race for the most loved parent. It may even be working against me.

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I've changed a mountain of diapers to his molehill, clipped their fingernails hundreds of times to his one or two, been there (solo) every single time they've ever had a shot, and served them pretty much every meal they've ever eaten.

I am our family's wiper of tears, chief negotiator, diffuser of temper tantrums, distributor of Band-Aids (princesses or Minnie Mouse for her, superheroes or Minions for him), maid, cook, and alarm clock.


Doesn't all that work mean I should also be their favorite?

Or has been there for all that stuff (literally and figuratively) taught them that I'm merely their whipping boy?

I'll admit that sometimes not being the chosen one has its advantages. There was the month that my daughter got up every night between two and three in the morning and only wanted her dad to put her back down, the grumpy afternoons when my son forced my husband to sit with him and watch back-to-back episodes of Octonauts, and the many dinners out when my kids have decided Daddy's lap was the best seat in the house. I prefer to drink my Sauvignon Blanc and eat my pizza without an obstacle between my mouth and the plate, thank you very much.

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But still, there's something that stings when I go to reach out for my snotty, sobbing son, up too soon from an afternoon nap, and he looks at me, starts crying harder, scoots his body as far away from me as possible in his crib, and screams, "I want Daddy."


Perhaps it's time I start playing harder to get.

The only comfort I can take in my current second-class status is knowing that my husband's predisposition to say "no" to any proposed activity or purchase will probably make him super unpopular in our kids' teen years. I envision a time when his strict rules will make my firm but reasonable approach a much more desirable option. Maybe, just maybe, they'll decide then that I'm the favorite parent.

Until that time, I guess I'll keep doing the dirty work while he gets the dividends.

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Katharine Stahl is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo, The Age, SheKnows, The Canberra Times, and more.