The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

My Husband Plays Favorites

What to do if You Favor One Child

Dear Dr. G.,

I have to tell you that I adore my husband. We have been married for 20 years and he still treats me like I'm his girlfriend. We are quite taken with each other. Our biggest problem is that I feel that it is clear that my husband has always favored my son over my daughter. I know that he loves my daughter and he has always given her attention but I see the way he looks at my son and the way he is at such ease with my son.

My kids are both teens now. They get along well and I am not sure that they are aware of this favoritism. At least, I don't hear either of them talking about it. I am really sensitive about this issue because my father always favored me over my sister and she hated me for it. Now, as adults we still don't have a good relationship. I blame my father for this.

I have spoken to my husband about this. He says that he adores both kids but that he finds it easier to be with my son because they have a more natural chemistry. I, on the other hand, find them both easy to get along with and do not feel that I play favorites.

Should I do anything about this? I don't want the kids to start disliking each other.

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A Worried Mother

 

Dear Mother,

At any given point in time, I would say that it is fair to say that one child is easier to get along with than others. Many parents do have favorite children but may be unwilling to admit it. This is not uncommon. It is a concern, however, when the children become cognizant of it and they start disliking and becoming competitive with one another because of it.

In your family's case it sounds like things are going well and the kids are getting along. Perhaps, your husband can find an activity that he does only with your daughter and it becomes their father-daughter special time.

You may be especially sensitive to this issue because of your own father's behavior and how it has impacted your relationship with your sister. I believe it is good that you are looking out for both your husband and your kids.

My best advice is to keep the dialogue open with your husband; keep your eye on the kids' relationship; and most importantly rejoice in the wonderful relationship that you describe with your husband. My guess is that your kids will ultimately benefit from observing that relationship.

 

Good Luck,

Dr. G.

 

For more articles like this, please see my website:

http://www.drbarbaragreenberg.com/index.html

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

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