3 Yr Old Mean to Daddy

Updated on January 10, 2011
S.V. asks from Anaheim, CA
13 answers

Hi mamas!
I have a wonderful 3 year old that has ALWAYS been attached to me, I breastfed him, usually always take him to doctor appts, spend lots of time with him. His dad trys but I think he is still uncomfortable with his parenting. We are planning to go to parenting classes this month also. But what do I do, say to my child when he tells his daddy-to his face-"I don't love you daddy, only mommy"??? He doesnt want daddy to get him out of bed in the mroning, he would rather have me do it, or he will get out himself. He always says he doesnt want daddy doing anything for him, only me. I try to explain that daddy is there and can do everything mommy does. I am trying to get hy hubby more on board with doing things alone with him but he seems to think that I just want more "me" time then for quality time with the 2 of them. He says he is fine with him when it is just the 2 of them but when I am around he is different. Any suggestions?? Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks mamas for all your wonderful advice and I will take into consideration about letting dad do more around the house with our son, and be extra strong not to but-in when I shouldn't!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Sounds pretty typical to me... I have a son that will be 5 in April, and treated my husband the same way!
Now, he loves loves hanging out with daddy, going in the garage, playing with cars and trains, reading....ect... daddy was just patient with him and let him come around. I was a little less patient and would always tell my son to go sit with daddy, ask dad for milk.. and now there are no worries... Good Luck!!

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answers from Las Vegas on

When you son acts like this, try not to overly react. It's a pretty typical stage for little boys to go through at this age. Boys tend to be more attached to their mother and girls are more attached to their mothers, and then it switches.

If he says something like, "I don't like daddy," you or your can respond by saying, "Oh, that's not nice. Look, you hurt daddy's feelings. Daddy's still going to get you anyway." Just keep encouraging your husband to keep doing what he is doing and it will change soon enough. Also, make sure that he is spending enough time playing together when you are not around. Often times in families, one parent becomes the fun "good cop" and the other one ends up becoming the task master "bad cop". If your husband is all business and very little fun with your son, of course your son's going to prefer you if you are the more light hearted of the two.

Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Leave him and Dad alone together while you have some alone time. He may cry when you leave, but he'll get over it. He'll learn how to bond with Dad.


answers from Houston on

When he says he doesn't love his daddy, be firm and tell him that is a very not nice and hurtful thing to say, and to apologize to his dad. Don't make your case that dad is capable of doing the same things that you do, but that he wants to help him because his daddy loves him and ants to spend time with him.

Maybe you need to back off for a while, let dad do a little more like getting him up in the mornings or putting him down at night. Kids sometimes get attached to one parent, so trying to even it out a little would maybe be helpful.

Dr. Sears has some excellent parenting advice for dads, maybe it will be helpful for your husband:





answers from Kansas City on

We reap what we sew and your husband has done this to himself. He needs to be stronger and interact more with his kid and this won't happen. There is no way I would put up with my kid saying he didn't love another parent. I can't believe your husband didn't pick him up and tell him, "but I love you, and we don't talk that way, ok!?" If your husband started spending more quality time with him, then this won't happen anymore.


answers from Sioux City on

My kids would act disrespectful to their Dad if I let them. I don't. They would disrespect me if their Dad allowed it. He doesn't. I tell my children that I love every member of our family and that their Dad and I are a team working to do the very best for them. Your little guy may not understand all that, but he would understand you telling him that you love his Daddy very much and you won't allow him to be mean to his Daddy.



answers from Los Angeles on

The simple answer is to leave your hubby and son alone together as much as possible! There's a small part of you that's secretly glad your child "loves u more" - but don't be fooled! Little kids are very adept at picking up little cues and "vibes". As soon as he gets a bit older he'll play you and your husband up against each other! Make time to hug your husband in front of your son and show him that you and your husband are a team and you love each other! Good luck!


answers from San Diego on


Okay, so this may sound scary to you, buuuuut, you may want to "rip the band-aid off" so to speak. Schedule a day with your girlfriends (and I do mean a whole day 8 am-4 pm) and let your son and Daddy have a day together. My friend and neighbor across the street from me was having a similar issue and one day I invited her to a woman's retreat that was a whole day. She and her husband decided that it would be a good thing - she got some time away to really re-connect with herself and Daddy and son had time to connect with each other. Finally, Daddy and Mommy now had faith in each other, that Dad could take care of their son, perhaps not exactly like Mommy does, but just fine nonetheless. She later told me it was the best thing that could have happened to their relationship in a long time.

For my own story, I had to have surgery only 2 weeks after our son was born. This forced my husband into a situation where he had to take care of our son by himself quite a bit. While incredibly difficult in the beginning, it did 3 things: it gave him confidence that yes, he can totally do this; it gave me confidence that he can do it and I don't need to be hovering over him giving him constant instruction (likely what would have happened had I not been bed-ridden); and gave our son time to really bond with his Daddy.

At this point, it sounds like no amount of trying to explain to your son will work - he needs action and so does your husband. Your husband just may need you to go away for a bit, so he doesn't feel like you are going to judge his parenting style or tell him how to do something differently. Show him that you trust him and have confidence in him and he will come through with flying colors.

Enjoy yourself while you're out too;)




answers from Los Angeles on

I have a similar problem - but in reverse.
I am a stay at home mom.
Mon-Fri & I get up w/my 3 yr old daughter in the mornings (Daddy is long gone off to work) but, my husband gets up w/her on the weekends to give me a break.... (isn't he *awesome*?!)

It NEVER fails - every Mon., Tues., Wed. (and sometimes Thurs.) mornings, my daughter is calling out for Daddy in the morning & when she sees ME instead, all HELL breaks loose! The tears, the screaming "I want my Daddy!" and "Leave me alone!" is just heart wrenching for her (and a little hurtful to my ego, to be honest! lol).
It's 2 days of Daddy getting up with her and then 3-4 days of "recovery" to get back to normal routine - UGH!

Not to mention....we go about our daily routine of outings (errands, parks, museums, zoo, etc...) and she's completely fine, but then.....Daddy comes home from work and the entire "mood" of the household changes. All of a sudden, she can't go to the bathroom without Daddy, she can't eat a snack without Daddy sitting next to her, she can't play with her toys without Daddy in the room....All of these things she does with no complaint when Daddy is not home. Although Daddy is obliging, he is tired when he first gets home & needs a bit of down time.....THIS sends the little girl into a full blown fit.

All that said, when Daddy is home & she's throwing a fit because she wants him, not me, my husband & I simply don't give in....
"Daddy needs his time to unwind, so Mommy will go for a walk with you, Mommy will prepare the snack, Mommy will play Candy Land with you, and when Daddy's rested, then HE will do "A.B.& C." with you." Just taking a very matter-of-fact approach...sure, she still screams like a banshee for the first 5 minutes of our walk down the street, but she eventually gets over it when I point out the lizard sunning himself on a rock or the kitty sitting in the window of our neighbors home. :-)

We really feel that she behaves this way not only because she misses him throughout the day but, FRANKLY, Daddy is a pushover & will do basically whatever she wants him to! LOL
Maybe you are this way w/your boy? Doing everything for him, catering to him, talking & explaining these situations too much instead of just going about your business, etc...? I'm not being judgmental, REALLY I'm not....Just something for you to think about.

Of course kids are creatures of habit - it makes them feel secure!
Of course they like things "just so" - it makes their world make sense!
Of course they want undivided attention - it makes them feel special!

But they need to learn that BOTH of their parents are capable of giving them that love, time and attention...it may not be the "same" as the other parent, but that's the BEAUTY of it! Each parent has wonderful qualities to contribute to their child :-)

I think the parenting class is a GREAT idea for both you and your hubby....
Especially since you say that he may still be "uncomfortable" with his parenting style. Trust me, the MORE one on one time he gets with your boy, he AND your son will work out their own way of "being" together. And if your man is concerned that you just want to duck out for more "me" time, compromise by playing a family game together for a bit, and then go for a walk (or run errands, or make a phone call) alone. Give your man a chance to work it out with your boy & it will be fine ! :-)



answers from Colorado Springs on

It sounds like a typical three-year-old velcro stage. But he's old enough to learn that he must not use this as a power play. I note that your boy is fine with Dad when you're not around. He may be realizing that saying, "I don't love Daddy!" gets a rise out of Mama and Daddy both. It's not a good game. In a firm but friendly way, let your son know that YOU love Daddy very much! And go out of your way to be kind to your husband and to show your liking/loving for him.

The poor dads have a hard time of it. It's natural for babies to attach to their mothers first. It takes longer to them to figure out where Daddy comes in to the picture. Fathers need lots of patience! (Parenting classes can be a good idea, too.) The reward will be great when your son is a little bigger and Daddy is his hero.



answers from San Francisco on

Are you a SAHM? My son (almost 3) gets this way every once in a while (especially boo boos, bedtime, waking up at night). I'm a SAHM, and dad works. We got dad involved in a parent and me soccer program (I was on sidelines), Had dad take him to baseball games, or run errands, or to dinner - just him and dad time. Then I left for an overnight so he HAD to be with dad - and I a much needed break. Things have been pretty good. Dad needs to get involved. Also (and I don't mean this in a mean/bad way) you need to step back. I had to learn that. As a mom, we rush to help, fix, kiss, love our kids. If we step back and let dad take over the task, boo boo, etc (and - as hard as it is - not criticize HOW dad does stuff - b/c its actually better to see more than one solution to an answer) your son will get more comfortable with Daddy. Good luck!



answers from New York on

My son can act like this at times too. Not all the time and sometimes he even prefers daddy. First, try to have your son and daddy spend more one on one time together if possible. My husband was home for a week and I took advantage of it and had a few me days. My son was so hooked on daddy after that it was great.
Another thing I do sometimes is simply tell my son I won't do it (whatever he is asking for) Like if he wants only me to get him juice, but i'm busy- I tell him daddy will do it. He'll at times say nooooo, I want you mommy. I tell him either daddy can do it, or he won't have any juice, simple as that. He may whine for another minute or so, but then he realizes that i'm not gonna do it and lets daddy get it for him- or whatever the case it.



answers from Los Angeles on

YOU need to change that dynamic. When he says, "I only love you, not Daddy" then you reposnd with, "That's not nice. How would you like it if Daddy said that he only loves me and not you?" Explain that he loves him very much and that he needs to be nice to Daddy.

Make sure you are in the shower, etc when it's time for him to get out of bed, etc. When you are all out together, have Daddy take him to the bathroom - because it's the men's room, etc.

Explain to your husband that if he wants ANY relationship with his kids later, it's ALL fostered here. My dad wanted kids, but didn't know what to do with them, so my mom literally had to hold his hand and tell him what to do with us. He is an ok dad now that we are adults, but still not real interested. He never learned how to be a dad from his dad. Kids were something the mom did - but that was the 40's. My husband does 60% or more of the child-rearing.

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