Divorce is tricky for so many reasons, and these days, things are even tougher than before.
A mom recently wrote in to Reddit’s parenting forum, detailing her difficult situation in which, she says, her 6-year-old son, whom she co-parents with her ex-husband, “openly prefers” his time at his dad’s.
This mom says that she and her son’s father have been divorced for three years but have had a “good co-parenting relationship” since then. She then adds, “Before the quarantine, my son would usually spend 3 days with me and 4 with his dad per week, depending on our work schedules. Since the quarantine (both out of work), we’ve been having him off and on every 3 days and then switching.”
Then, she gets to the crux of the matter: “My son’s comments have been happening for a long time. He says several times a day how he’s sad because he misses daddy and wants daddy with him, always asking when he’s going to go back over there, saying he wants more days with him, and generally talking up what they do there versus here.”
“I am confident he doesn’t say these things to his dad about me or wanting to be with me,” she continues. “The only times he EVER misses me openly is when he’s away from me for a really long time, either with grandparents or his dad if I’m gone.”
“I have always had a really hard time dealing with this, but more-so now that he’s one of only two people I can see,” she says, referring to self-isolation and social distancing guidelines that most people are currently following. “I love him so much and I always have felt like I’m not a good enough mother, but I just wish he had the same affections for me as he does for his dad.”
This mom then turns it over to the Reddit community, asking for advice on how to “cope with this/understand it better.”
The Reddit community did offer some advice and support. Several commenters shared how they have been through similar situations with their kids or how, as children of divorce themselves, they got beyond favoriting a certain parent.
“Hey, you’re an amazing mom,” one comment reads. “Sometimes kids go through stages, and it’s normal for a boy to idolize his father this way. It’s likely completely arbitrary! He might go through a phase soon where he worships the ground you step on and his dad is just ‘Meh’. I know it feels like a competition right now, but don’t worry, it’s not. It’s not about how you parent him, or about what cool things you think his dad is doing that you’re not. It’s something that happens universally, to most parents, and while I understand it’s difficult to handle, it doesn’t reflect how much your kid loves you in the slightest.”
One commenter, a 17-year-old child of divorce, responded: “I’m 17 so I’ll offer advice on the side of the child with divorced parents. Don’t make him feel bad for preferring his dad over you, maybe ask him why he prefers his dad and don’t change the custody arrangement to give you more time and him less.”
The Original Poster (OP) responded, “I don’t want him to prefer me, I just hate feeling like I am ALWAYS the one he prefers less. I wish things were more equal. I wish he was more excited to be here and with me. It just really makes me sad, because I love having him here and I struggle with my view of myself as a mother already.”
She goes on to say that she thinks her ex-husband is a great father and that she in no way wants to change or jeopardize his relationship with their son. “I just feel like for years I have come out as ‘second best’ and I wish he vied for me as much as he does his dad.”
Matt is a writer, editor, and content strategist currently based in Washington state. He has worked as a managing editor for the iconic I Can Has Cheezburger, Celebuzz (a SpinMedia site), and now Mamas Uncut. He also acted as the Social Media Director for CafeMom.
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