What to do when you’re not the favorite parent

Jessie Shepherd, mental health counselor, stopped by to share the following information with us:

Is it normal NOT to be the favorite parent?
Throughout a child`s life (and when they are grown), they will be closer to one caregiver than another. This may be based on their age, interests, or time spent with them. Keep in mind that it is easier to bond with some people than others, so it may simply be that you are having trouble finding a way to bond.

Make sure to talk to the other caregivers so that everyone is on the same page. We want to make sure that your child has a connection with one of you so that they have support when they need it.

Look at your behaviors
If you are always distracted with interacting with them or don't make time for bonding with your child, it is very hard to create a connection. Divorce or conflict may play a role in increasing the stress level in the relationship which will also be difficult to connect during.

Get more one-on-one time
During this time to do your best to not be distracted, for example checking your phone or running through a to do list in your head. Be 100% present with them and make that time about what they would like to do and what you can learn about them.

Be predictable
It is very hard to bond with someone if they are unpredictable. They may be just as unpredictable as you, but you can only control your own actions. Plus unpredictability creates an increase in stress hormones in the body, reducing the likelihood that anyone experiencing it is being in the moment.

Hold to your commitments.
Always show up when you say you're going to show up and be honest with them if you are unable to do so. Be as consistent as possible with them. Predictability can be comforting in that you know what you are going to get when you interact. This is a good place to create solid bonds.

Praise
In order to give praise that is genuine and meaningful, you must be in the moment and listening first. Try to keep your communications positive, but not to a level of ignoring the negative. Address the negative and then move back into a positive communication pattern.

Tell them that you are thankful that they took time to be with you. They do not need to thank you back or show gratitude necessarily. But it is a good beginning to bonding when they feel you truly appreciate them.

Keep the 4 positive to 1 negative ratio. Negatives can and do happen, but then they should be avalanched with positive in order to keep and continue rapport with them.

Have Fun!
Find something that you both will enjoy and have fun interacting with one another. It is much easier to have in depth conversations if you are both interested in the subject. Plus if you can get a good laugh going, it is a true firework in the relationship building arena. Laughter is quick to create mirroring behaviors (feeling in sync), reduces stress hormones, creates an open body posture and gestures, improves openness perception in tone of voice tone, and more likely to be reminisced on in a positive manner.

Find more from Jessie at jessiethetherapist.com.

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