“Daddy is my favorite. I love him more than you.”
This declaration came out as my child and I were in the midst of our day-to-day routine. It was a statement that gave me serious pause. I thought only parents had “favorites!”
I was on the edge of humor and hurt. Was she saying this for shock value? Does she really mean it? What is it about me that tipped the scale in her father’s favor? Did I do or say something wrong? I match your socks, Missy! Your father doesn’t know where your socks are!
In all fairness, her dad is fantastic and is the kind of dad who does know where her socks are, in addition to putting them on. So where did this statement come from? There is the common thread that deems daughters are “daddy’s girls” and sons are “mama’s boys,” but this is not a true or fair belief. Children can and do favor their parent of the same sex. After all, who better to talk to than the person who has been through the same things they are experiencing?
Why has this caused me to be emotional and a teeny bit jealous? What do I expect from my daughter? What does she expect from me? Parenting is the quintessential thankless job. I would lay down my life for her, but I certainly would not want her to do the same for me. Love is not what you get, it’s what you give. I don’t want to set any other example than that.
Before I answer, another thought has struck me. I had a favorite family member. I loved my other family members too, but I had a family member that I especially loved. This fact did not shatter the universe nor cause other family members to love me any less. My child declaring her favorite parent is a declaration of her feelings; something I just couldn’t ignore. She made a bold statement, and in that moment, I felt proud and it made me love her more.
I take a breath and reply, “That’s OK. I know you love Daddy, and I love you!”
Theresa Davis is a former early childhood educator and has worked in childcare centers for more than 15 years. She is also an adoptive mother, living and taking care of her family in the Capital District.