"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Different repsonses to mama vs. papa

We recently received this query from our Facebook mail which we rarely check.  This urbanPapa writes:
A nut we have been trying to crack for weeks at our house is how to reestablish some equilibrium in the way our son responds to mom and dad. It has been very frustrating for mom to be ignored (selectively) or at least not taken as seriously. Asking that things not be done/touched, staying down for naps . . . often create long drawn out dramas. When I say exactly the same thing or channel my grandpa and count to 3, he responds, which in itself is pretty frustrating for mom. I should have prefaced everything by saying we are fortunate to have a very even-tempered and thoughtful kid . . . as two-year-olds go we have nothing to complain about.

That said, I suspect something profound is at work here. When I am home alone with him on weekday mornings (mom has already left for work), he comes in and will climb into bed and nap beside me quietly (I sometimes remind him that it is still quiet time). On the weekends when mom is in bed too, this becomes impossible as he is constantly talking and squirming about. I think there's some payoff in the push-pull of these interactions with mom that reinforces the behavior . . . I just don't get what is so different between the two of us other than my deep voice.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My daughter, also 2, and also even-tempered is a completely different person when the 2 of us are alone at home all day - on vacation days, when dada is home, she is a different person - generally louder, and can be a little bit more trouble... so I guess it's not one thing you can pin it down to - it's complex :-)

pardon me if I'm not making sense, it's late and I'm tired..zzz

When I was at UCDavis, a professor in Child Development explained to me that two year olds go through this period of being more attached to dad. They crave time with dad to help them separate from mom and become more independent. As they become more physically independent, they realize that emotionally, they really need mom, so dad's supposed to help them pull away.

Now, I haven't read this anywhere, and I'm referring to notes here. It might be worthwhile to explore what a two year old needs developmentally to understand about what's guiding these interactions.

I also have a two year old, and he tests me far more than he does his father. If I think of it as a stage in his development, it makes it easier for me to just roll with it even when he drives me nuts.

My husband and I have been discussing the same issue for the past year. Our daughter, now two, acts completely differently to each of us. Bedtime is when this really shows. For example, my daughter will get out of her bed constantly and come to the gate to call "Daddy", but if I show up instead she runs screaming back to her bed knowing full well she is not where she's supposed to be. It's amazing that we've already established our roles as "good cop/bad cop". My daughter will throw an absolute fit over activities such as washing hands or picking up her toys when Daddy asks, but if I ask she obediently performs. Granted, our tones and overall approaches are very different. Even when my husband tries to mimic my approach exactly she just doesn't buy in. I would be utterly frustrated if she wasn't so fascinating.

My 2 year old can be a sweet, even tempered child all day long when I am home with him and starts running around wildly, hitting his baby sister, throwing objects and being generally naughty as soon as Daddy comes home. He tests Daddy way more than me and if I am in the same room all I have to do is give him that look that says "You know better" and after a brief stare-down he often backs off.

I think its because I'm more consistent and he knows what to expect and what is expected with me. His dad is a little more arbitrary in how he reacts, and I have to say, more reactive. Perhaps you are right that your son is getting a pay off in the push-pull. I think of my boy as a little social scientist who has to keep testing his hypothesis until he figures out how Daddy will react. He has me a little more figured out already, ya know?

So what does it mean when the 3.5-year-old and 6-year-old do this? And tell me fast because I'm solo this week and it's not pretty around here. ;)

Yes, I agree completely with Joie's comment. I don't think it's a male thing or age related at all, but rather how you each parent and if one parent is around the kids more and/or more consistent. I stay home with my kids so I get more face time with them and am consistent and follow through with whatever I say I'm going to do where dh throws around a lot of empty threats and when he's ignored is very reactive or repeats himself over and over but does not follow through so the kids don't take him seriously. It's tiring being the enforcer all the time. We talked about this recently and how he needs to work on being taken more seriously and what he can do to achieve that goal. Kat, we also have a 3.5y.o. and 6y.o. If you are going solo this weekend that could be your chance to establish some new guidelines and rules with them.

I have a 1 year old boy and this is already starting to develop. When my husband tells our son no, he listens. When I tell him no, he laughs and does it again and again. I think I'm just too much of a pushover to him, but he is also very strong willed. When I do reach my boiling point and tell him no in a more firm manner, then he cries and I feel bad. Being a parent is so confusing and hard!

Why are you guys using an image that has nothing to do with the story? I am related to the two people in the photograph. As a photographer I find it extremely wrong that you are using their image without permission.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment