Four Year Old Son Doesn't like Mom

Updated on June 11, 2012
A.K. asks from Simi Valley, CA
13 answers

My son seems to not like me...he is almost four and very attached to his dad. I am sahm, and have always tried not to take it personally...he has always favored his dad even when he was very little, but lately my son has been more vocal about it and I have been feeling hurt. It feels like he only wants his dad and when I am there he wants me to go away. He is always trying to push my buttons but behaves better with dad. Dad works a standard week, he is around. I always have tried to be neutral and not need his affection but I find I am doubting myself and my likability, like what am I doing wrong? Anyone been there, any advice?

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So What Happened?

Just a clarification...Dad doesn't treat me disrespectfully in front of our son. He definitely is more fun and jazzed about being around my son than I appear to be though.....addition: I tried very hard today after reading the posts to be more engaged with my son. I also discussed with husband and he helped me..when our son was trying to exclude me he would be the one to explain that it's not ok etc. it seems to be working, even in one evening sons attitude seems better. In terms of husband/ inlaws are no longer in our life except occasional visits and my husband has shaped up, through counseling etc. I do see though, that his being more proactive disciplining/intervening is making all the difference.

More Answers



answers from Seattle on

You DON'T speak to your mother that way. Timeout.

This is the new mantra. You need to get dad on board, because the MOMENT he does it to you (says go away, etc), he needs to 'go cold' put him down or disengage, and kiddo goes to his room.

Is favoring normal? Yep. Is it acceptable? ONLY when done in a way that is NOT disrespectful, hurtful, or demanding.

Can daddy tie my shoes, please? Is okay
Not You!!! Daddy! is NOT okay

I love you daddy! Is okay
I love you more than mommy/ I hate mommy/ etc. is NOT okay

Daddy!!! Yay!! Is okay
Daaaaaaaaaaaaaddy! DaddyDaddyDaddyDaddy. (tantrum for daddy) is NOT okay!

Get the drift?

If he's rude to EITHER of you, he gets neither. That is NOT how we treat people.

He can love his dad WITHOUT being rude, mean, disrespectful to anyone else.

Dad REALLY needs to be on board with taking up 90% of this, because everytime he let's it go he's telling your son that that is the right way to treat you and to show love. Aka rewarding him.

And during the day? YOU need to stand up for you the same way you'd stand up for a kid being treated this way by your son.

HINT: kids at certain developmental phases push parents away. It's a test. One, CAN they? And 2, will you still love them? The harder they push, the faster they come back. Something I did was to just laugh at my son and tell him I loved him enough for both of us. It ticks them off, but it also cuts short a LOT. Biggest parenting trick I ever learned was to never get emotionally invested on an argument with a child. Does it happen sometimes? Sure. But it's pretty rare. It is ALMOST impossible for my son to hurt me. He can try, but when it doesn't work, he quits trying. Kids are KING of misery lives company. Don't let it go there, and it will stop. For months and years. Then a new phase brings it back, gets stopped, and they don't try again for a few months or years.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

He's trying to manipulate you. If he thinks you are an easy mark, he can make you doubt yourself and then you won't make him toe the line. Telling you to go away is a way of bullying you. He's practicing on you, and will do this kind of stuff to kids as well down the line if you keep allowing it.

DON'T do what he asks. Tell him that he needs to stop talking ugly to you or you will take away a privilege. ONE warning, and then take something precious away. If he throws a fit, put him in his room.

The problem is that you have not been "the boss of him" and you need to be. You are letting your husband be the boss of him.

Talk to your husband about the issue and get on the same page. Your husband ought to be fussing at him just the same about his remarks and attitude towards you.

Better work on this now before he tells you to go away in front of the teacher at school. No one likes the little jerk who talks ugly to mom at school. I promise you.

Sending you strength~

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

In past posts you've said your husband is verbally abusive, your inlaws are against you and your son is effected by that. It doesn't matter if your husband verbally rips you apart in front of him. Kids pick up on tension and hostility. From reading your other posts it's clear there is disfunction and drama in your family. Your son will act out on that and is being influenced by your husband and how he treats you.

Respect is a funny thing, you don't have to verbally attack someone to show lack of respect and children are very, very sensitive to nuances in communication. I'm only guessing here but maybe your definition of respectful treatment is a little off. He doesn't have to call you names to undermine your son's affection for you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

If your Husband is not supportive of you nor respectful of you and does not treat you nicely himself.... then your son won't be either.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

He sees you everyday, all day. Even though your husband works regular hours, he's new and different and fun. Try focusing on getting that affection when Dad isn't home. When Dad is home, watch how he interacts with your son, is it all playtime? This may be the reason. You're the discipline and Daddy is the fun. Try giving your husband more responsibility over you son, let him be the one to say "no" from time to time. When he's home, he's on son duty, let him take over while you get a break. Let him do bath and bed time. Your son loves you, really.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Ditto what Riley J. said.

And try not to take it personally...he sees you all day..and lets face it Daddy IS easy to love and fun to be around too, right? So don't blame your lil' man for loving Daddy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I have absolutely been there -- I calmly and patiently let my son know that his treatment of me was hurtful, that I did a lot to care for him, and that his affection was important to me. It helped a great deal to have his father talk to him and show more affection toward me - after all, he wanted to emulate everything his father did. I think it's pretty normal for boys of that age to do that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

i agree with the others - it seems to me from looking at some of your previous posts, it's likely dad is disrespectful and doesn't treat you very well, sorry if that's a bad assumption. your son's only way of getting affection from his dad might seem (to him) to be to treat you the same way dad does, so then dad will "like" him.

dad needs to nut up and learn how to treat a lady, and teach his son the same. and YOU need to put your foot down with your son. you don't deserve it from your husband, and you certainly don't deserve it from a 4 year old. this is called a cycle. break it. i agree with Riley. but you can't do it without dad changing his ways.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Ask him. Put it on him. Ask him point blank, gently, why he doesn't like you. He may not have any idea he is doing it or you are calling him out. Either way, you are starting a dialogue with him. It will go very slow, don't expect miracles over night. I do agree with a post that being more playful and ignoring his offset attitude would be a good thing too.

Do not bully him back as others have suggested. It is ludicrous to think you can punish him into wanting to be around you. And dad 'telling' him to be more affectionate, that's not going to work either. This is YOUR relationship with YOUR son. Dad is not responsible for that. The only thing he should interfere with is when he is being disrespectful - not telling him how to feel about you.

There's nothing wrong with you. He may see you as the disciplinarian and dad the fun guy - who knows. But you can redefine this relationship in a positive manner. Just be patient...

Now...saying all of that - The only thing you didn't mention is how your husband treats you. Boys tend to mimic what they see dad do. Since I don't know how your husband treats you, I obviously can't say that is a factor. But in case he does disrespect you often - then there would lie your problem.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Ditto what Dawn said. Stop allowing him to act this way, get Dad on board so he's reprimanding him for his treatment of you, maybe even refusing to do some things with him here and there and telling him to do them with you, also telling him he expects him to behave the same with you as with him. You can both explain that you have different roles in his life, Dad works to provide for the family, you take care of the family, your son needs to respect you both.

Stop doubting yourself, there is nothing wrong with you!!



answers from San Francisco on

It sounds like your son is picking up his treatment of you from his father and his father's family (read prior post). I think you need to try to change his impression of you.

Try to be more "jazzed" as you put it. Being a SAHM may be monotonous to you and that monotony is played out daily. Try changing things up.

Take next week for example. Rather than staying home and worrying about laundry, vacumming and dishes, plan an outing for you and your son for each day or maybe three days or something. Then, when you do your outings, focus only on your son and having a good time. Show your son that you can and are fun. You can be fun and still be his parent.

At this age, he is still "following" other's lead in how they treat you. Soon enough he will start forming his own opinions based on his own interactions with you. That's when you're gonna win. So, for right now, try to ignore the favoritism and just focus on developing the type of relationship with him that you want to have.



answers from Boston on

Well I think first I would not be neutral. You do need his effection and he needs your effection. Its fine he is attached to his dad, my sons are. What I would do if I were you is try to be more playful. Do not be stand offish with him. Try to have more fun with him. I would kiss him more and give more hugs and tickle him. I know this hurts but he is 4 and he might feel that you are neutral. Once he knows mom is a fun person to be with he will turn it around.



answers from New York on

I think that without specifics, it is really hard to answer your question. I always liked my father better because he was reasonable and did not shame and manipulate me like my mother did. Some kids just like dad better because he is "more fun". I think you need to really think about your situation and if you really "like" your son. Maybe your husband and son just are more of a match. Your son has no right to disrespect you, but you can't make him like you. Do you guys go out and do fun stuff together? Are you a happy person?

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