The parent preference

Bedtimes are pretty lovely now when it’s my night to put Avery to bed. She’s agreeable, and she loves to flop on her bed and read the agreed-upon number of books together, and then cuddle in close to fall asleep. I listen to her singing songs quietly to herself, and I get lots of kisses and hugs.

But when my wife puts her to bed, it’s still cause for an emotional breakdown. My wife does bedtime for 2 nights on, 2 nights off. We take turns, and keep that pattern consistent. But on the nights my wife is on, Avery screams and cries that she doesn’t want her Mo – she wants to sleep with mommy. She won’t let her Mo hold her books and instead piles them up at her bedroom door saying they’re for mommy. She pleads with her Mo that mommy is right on the other side of the door (“mommy right there!”) and that she wants mommy instead. Eventually, after about 10 minutes of crying and pleading, she gives in and lets her Mo read her books and then cuddles up with her to fall asleep. But if she so much as hears a floorboard creak outside her door, she gets upset again, asking for mommy. I take off as soon as I’ve said goodnight and get as far away from her room as possible because I hate hearing her cry for me when I can’t go to her.

It’s so hard on my wife. I don’t know what to do to change the situation, if there’s even anything we can do. I hope she comes around to her Mo soon.

On a related note, she still asks for milk at every bedtime, even though we weaned almost 2 months ago. She asks, and then remembers, “milk all gone.” She then settles for her water, but will “forget” and ask again a couple of times during each bedtime. It’s wild how hard-wired nursing was in her brain, and how hard it was for her to give it up.

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11 thoughts on “The parent preference

  1. Ugh. B and I share bedtime, unless for some odd reason one of us isn’t here. I almost always change her and do pj’s, but we then take turns every other night reading her the 3 bedtime stories she chooses, then doing hugs and kisses and into bed. For months, C suddenly wouldn’t sit with B for him to read. She fought him. She kicked and twisted and squirmed and pushed away. He would get so angry, which I tried to explain to him wasn’t helping, because who wants to sit with someone grumpy? They would just feed off of each other’s displeasure, and it was a nightmare. She would eventually escape and either sit on my lap on the floor, or on the stool in front of the chair. He would get so upset that she didn’t want him, she wanted me. Even if I left the room, she would still carry on trying to get away from him. Then suddenly, she didn’t anymore. I have no clue what really changed. It just did…thankfully, for all of us. So hopefully that will happen for you guys (soon!) as well.
    As for asking to nurse…it’s hard to break these little ones of habits that are all they’ve known since birth. I know it’s a bit different, but I’ve been trying to break C of sucking her thumb. She’s done it her whole life, even in the womb. It’s such a work in progress. She does a lot better these days (after over a month of work) except when she’s tired. But trying to shut off something that is all they’ve known their whole life, is asking a lot. Avery will adjust eventually and stop asking, it’ll just take some time! ❤

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  2. We ask little mpb every single night “whose taking you to bed, mommy or daddy?” After always saying daddy now he says mommy. And he’s said mommy every single night for probably 4+ months now. The only way he’ll go with daddy is I’m in not visible or I’m away with work and not even home. We both realize it’s a phase and just let him choose because we figure why upset him right before bed. All that said, I’m never allowed to do bath-time – Little MPB always chooses daddy for bath-time. So it seems like Little MPB has given us each our roles. And one day it’ll probably change.
    But as I’ve said before, it’s all about what works for your family. ❤️

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  3. Linnea was very much like this when I started doing her bedtime. The thing that worked for her was telling her repeatedly what was going to happen and me doing her bedtime every night for a week or more. By the end of about three nights, Leah would read her bedtime story in the living room and then she came to me to carry her back to bed. It will happen eventually for your family too!

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  4. Out of curiosity , why are you taking turns putting her to bed? How does it matter if she wants to wrap her day up with you rather than your wife? Maybe she can pick something that she does only with her Mo and mommy is uninvited.

    If you want to stick to your plan, Id say dress up and really go outside so that she knows you have truly gone. Kids r v smart, she knows mommy is right across the door 🙂 kiss her good night fully dresed up and she will settle easier.

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    • We want to share bedtime so my wife can take part in something that had been exclusively mine while we were nursing, and because I can now get things done in the evenings 😊. It definitely helps when I’m actually out of the house, so we may start having me say goodnight and leaving before they even go upstairs for bed

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  5. It was kind of like that for my wife when our daughter was little. It changed when my wife started doing bath and bedtime every night, it became their thing. I was a sahm at the time, so it was nice for them to spend time together and nice for me to get a bit of a break.

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  6. We are in the THICK of this right now. The parent preference is pervasive in our house. If I’m anywhere at home, our daughter basically refuses to receive any care or have her needs met by my wife. It’s heartbreaking. She has just started to prefer playing in her room with her toys with my wife, which is lovely for me, but most other things she wants me to do. I have a half-written post on this topic that I’ll wrap up soon.

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    • Glad to not be alone in the experience! I can’t imagine how much it sucks for the non-gestational/non-preferred parent. Hopefully the phase ends soon, for both of our families!

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  7. My son Dalton changes his mind all the time… for the majority of his life it was all about me but the last few weeks he’s been all about daddy… when he’s truely upset he still comes to me! We’ve been done nursing for a month now and he still asks for it all the time if he sees me getting dressed he gets so excited and giggles pointing to my boobs and then his mouth! I loved nursing and sometimes I still miss it especially when he asks so nicely!

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  8. We started my son to sleep in his own “toddler” bed, which is right next to our bed….I have to say that so far its been doing ok getting him to bed. He not old enough to understand bedtime routine yet (at least I dont think so…he is 16 months) but I hope when we get to that point he doesnt have a preference

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