Friday, August 19, 2016

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Why Calling My Toddler a "Daddy's Girl" Is Actually Destructive


Strangers and acquaintances, can we make a deal?

I won’t ask you to stop commenting on the socks my daughter should be wearing, the hair that shouldn’t be in her face, or the words you think she should be saying. But, please, can you stop calling her a Daddy’s Girl?

I’m not jealous, I promise. I love seeing the beautiful relationship blossoming between my husband and daughter. He makes her belly-laugh, he reads to her, he gives me breaks. It’s great—for him, for her, for me. We’re a happy family.

But, the thing is, a family includes me—and when you, someone we barely know, decides my daughter really must prefer him, since he’s holding her, or you know, being a parent, I kind of want to slap you. Is that rude of me?

“Oh, she’s with her favorite person—she really loves her daddy.”

“What a Daddy’s Girl!”

These comments may seem cute, or complimentary, but when made in the presence of me, the mother—who spends 10 hours a day changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, pleading with her toddler to, please, stop crushing crackers into the cat’s fur—well, it’s just kind of insulting. I know Daddy is more fun than me. That’s because my attention is a given and his is a gift. That’s no fault of his own—someone has to make the money. All I’m really asking for is a little credit—recognition that the novelty of Daddy doesn’t negate the hours I just spent as a one-woman entertainment committee, chef, and pit crew. 

Daddies have the privilege of being roughly 70 percent fun, 30 percent parent. That ratio would lead to total anarchy when applied to a 10-hour day together—one that includes grocery shopping, folding laundry, and preparing dinner. Reverse that ratio during my time with Asa, and it makes sense why Daddy might pull ahead, if you want to make this a contest for an 18-month-old’s affection.

And let’s be real: After a toddler with a 12-second attention span has just spent all day playing with, being corrected by, and forced into a car seat by the same person, a new face is exciting—especially when that person comes armed with candy, kisses, and lots of tickles. So, yes, my daughter is excited to see her daddy. Who would’t be? After a day alone with a human hurricane, I’m pretty pumped to see him too.

I’m not trying to undermine or explain away their love for each other. There’s a reason there are daddy/daughter dances—it’s a special relationship, and one that is entirely distinct from the mother/daughter bond. So, you're right, my daughter does love her daddy, and if he’s around, she probably wants to be in his lap. But that doesn’t make me a third wheel or a second-choice parent—it makes me a happy mommy.


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