My sons were all what some might call "Mama's boys." They sought me out for everything, from a scraped knee to a snack to a cuddle at the end of the day. And I will admit that I loved it. Their father? He didn't say much, but I'm sure it hurt sometimes — to put all of this effort and love into this little person and often feel as though you're getting nothing in return. As if parenting wasn't hard enough as it is. When I read this dad's blog about his jealousy of his son's relationship with his mom, I understood it immediately. And recognized a sort of painful honesty that many parents who often feel left out might appreciate.
Terrence Mentor, a blogger who goes by the moniker Afro Daddy, recently shared a post about a moment he had with his younger son. A "magical moment," Mentor explained, but first gives a little background on how he and "Boy 2.0" (as he calls his son in the blog) got to their personal magical moment. And it's something many parents, both fathers and mothers, will find all too relatable: the dilemma of being the "other" parent. Mentor wrote in his Facebook post:
Ever since my youngest, Boy 2.0, was born, he was totally his mother's child. I honestly found their immediate and intense connection beautiful, but even more honestly...it made me jealous.
It is quite a thing to be a dad who can't comfort his child, who is constantly told "No, I go to mommy", who never seems to have a real, relational moment with his own son.
It's a common theme with kids; they go through phases, have their preferences just like anyone else on the planet. But it can be incredibly hurtful when it doesn't feel like your "turn" to be loved by your child. Mentor went on to chide himself for this "silly and childish" behavior in the post, but also acknowledged that, silly or not, the feelings of jealousy were "real and disheartening."
Fortunately for Mentor, the tides seem to have changed. He wrote:
But then something started to change over last few months. Boy 2.0 started not just being okay being with me, but occasionally would actually choose me over mommy! Maybe this shouldn't have made me as happy as it did.
His son continues to look to his father for "comfort and calm," and his dad is loving it.
Dads aren't the only parents who suffer from feelings of jealousy, of course. And for moms, there can be a social assumption working against them as well. If their child happens to choose their partner over them in certain situations, it can often feel like a debilitating failure. As Maryland family therapist Liz Park explained to Parenting magazine:
A lot of our mothers, our workplaces, our TV shows still tell us that moms should do most of the childcare.
In fact, one Facebook user shared her experience with parenting jealousy as a comment on Mentor's post. Christie Mae Roberts wrote on Facebook:
When Luca wakes in the night and calls out, we try to take turns to go to him (usually to move him directly into our bed) but in the last few months, when I go into his room and he hears/sees it's me that's come for him, he collapses down into the bed and has a tantrum while screaming for daddy. It is SO hard not to take it personally...
The reality is, parenting is an almost constant struggle. And sometimes, raising children can make people a little childish. Don't beat yourself up about it. Getting your feelings hurt is normal — it's human. But it's also important to remember that tomorrow is coming, and things can change in a flash. As Mentor concluded in his Facebook post:
Is there a lesson here? Yeah - being a dad is hard, but every bit of emotional and physically energy that you use can be repaid to you in an instant.
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