A child goes through many transitions in the first 12-months of their life. Most of those transitions will involve their mom, as a baby naturally relies on her for most of his or her needs. For a dad, it can be hard at times to look at the bond building between mother and child in that first year and not feel a little pang of jealousy.
This scenario reminds me of a family sitcom broadcast on ABC in the early 90s, called the Dinosaurs. In the series, Earl Sinclar a father of three children. The youngest, a baby, routinely hits Earl on the head with a frying pan while shouting, “Not the momma,” anytime Earl tries to interact with him.
For the first 10-months or so of my son’s life, I could relate to Earl. Mom was number one in his life. He wanted to be held by her, comforted by her, fed by her, etc. Dad was just the guy who helped out if mom wasn’t available.
My dad friends reassured me that this phase would pass. That the day would come when I became more than “the other guy.”
Well, folks, it’s finally happened. My son is now almost 14-months-old and over the past several months I’ve gone from “not the momma” to Superman.
Suddenly he prefers my company to his mothers, never wants me to put him down and everything in his world has been renamed, Dada!
While I still believe in and advocate for the importance of his relationship with his mother, I can’t help but be a little excited about this change in dynamic.
For those dads who haven’t reached this stage with your kid yet, be encouraged it will come.
According to an article in Today’s Parent, registered psychologist Vanessa Lapointe, who works with kids and families in South Surrey, BC says, It’s not unusual for toddlers to reject their mothers in favor of their fathers at some point. Very young toddlers cannot differentiate themselves from their primary caregiver (who is usually Mom, at first) until they’re around age two, Lapointe explains, which is when their sense of self begins to develop. “As soon as they realize they’re a separate person, there’s this whole world of other people to explore,” says Lapointe. She adds that this is when Dad becomes fascinating, because the child has been “part of mom” for so long and is so used to her presence. Dad is suddenly novel and interesting.
While I wouldn’t say my son has “rejected” his mother, he has become a little less attached to her and it has given him and me a chance to bond in a deeper way.
I’m eager for this new stage of his development and to see how our bond grows. It’s time for me to up my game and be even more intentional with him. I just hope my efforts are worthy of a big red cape.