My 3-Year-Old Flipped Me Off

Momlogic’s Momstrosity: It was during one of our family traditions, the “family hug,” that it all went down. The family hug consists of us standing together, arms around each other and  Dad kisses Lily and me and then I kiss Dad and and Lily and so on. When it came to Lily’s turn, she gave Dad a kiss. And stopped. Dad said, “What about Mom?” “I don’t want to kiss her. I only love Dad!” She said reproachfully and planting another kiss on my husband’s face.

Kid, you just ruined a family tradition.

I tried to carry on and gave her a kiss on the cheek, only to have her to wipe it off her face as if I had just anointed her with the plague.

That was it. I was pissed. I excused myself from the room. And then the house, and went on a long solitary walk.

I had never felt so rejected or humiliated. The day before, Lily and I had been the best of friends. Today she basically told me to get stuffed. I sulked the rest of the night like a spurned teenager.

I decided to use her time as “Daddy’s Little Girl” to get some reading done. I closed myself in the bedroom and tried to concentrate on my book … only to be distracted by squeals of laughter and tickle fests from the happy couple. Not once during the entire evening did she ask where I was. The same thing happened the next night and the next.

If this was motherhood I wanted out.

I decided to ask Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Michelle Golland how to deal with being rejected by your kid without turning into a big baby yourself.

She explained to me that it’s age appropriate for preschoolers to distance themselves at different times from their parents. My daughter, apparently, wants to “figure out what it feels like to be separate from mom.”

What’s also age appropriate, says Golland, is for a 44-year-old mom is to be set off balance by this new trend in her child. Regardless of my feelings, she cautioned, the spurned parent must let the child know that you love them and that it’s OK to favor the other parent. “You want her to know that you’re not going to reject her for her feelings.”

Withdrawning, as I did, says Golland is a big no-no. “What that does is show her that it’s not OK for her to focus solely on dad.”

The key point, says Golland, is to not send the message that the only way you can be close to Dad is to be mean to Mom. “You need to help her cultivate two separate relationships with both parents.”

Often in families with only children there is a certain amount of triangulation. However, she adds, each member of the family of three should be able to enjoy a separate relationship with the other, Mom and Child, Mom and Dad and Child and Dad.

It’s important not to act in a passive aggressive way. You should instead be honestly pleased that Dad and daughter (or son) are enjoying some time away from mom. Even going on separate vacations, or overnights, says Dr. Golland, can strengthen the bond.

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