This is the term my husband and I used frequently when our older children were smaller: preferred parent of the week. You are probably familiar with this phenomenon if you too have small children whose temperaments are not so laid back…”no, no, MAMA DO!” or “I don’t want you!! I waaaaannnnntttt Daaaaddddyyy!!”
I honestly wonder, in those of you with big families, does this occur much past the third child? It seems to me, by necessity, that the youngest members of the family often get used to older brothers and sisters helping out, and the flexibility that develops from that precludes the “Preferred Parent Of The Week” syndrome. I would love to hear from you if you have a comment on that!
Parents always want to know how to handle this. In our family, we didn’t argue about this for the sake of arguing (“No, you must have Daddy put your fork on the table!”) for small things, but there were certainly times when a child’s desires could not be accommodated. Mama had the wailing baby, so yes, little four year old, Daddy will have to give the bath. And yes, there would be wailing. But Daddy is a parent too.
It can be hard for parents going through this for the first time to not feel baffled and hurt, especially fathers. One has to carry on in good humor, this is a small child! They say all kinds of things and have all kinds of feelings! Once fathers realize this can be a very normal phase, I think many of them can sort of shore themselves up and not take it so personally. Whenever our children would go through that, we would just look at it other and shrug, “Guess you’re PPW this week!”
It is important to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing and also a very matter-of-fact, less words, less explaining kind of manner when things are not going the way the child wants.
I have a very astute friend who pointed out that if Dad is never on the “preferred list” for baths, ouchies, bedtime, etc that she wondered if the father and child were doing anything positive through play at all first. It is hard to expect the child to want Dad during those tired, hungry, hurt and whiny kind of times if the child and father have no positive bond together during happy times. There should always be time in the family schedule for FUN, with BOTH parents. Build on a happy platform of play as a foundation!
I would love to hear your experiences with “PPW”.