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Competitive parenting

on May 14, 2012

On Saturday I told Big Girl we were going to the park.  “Bike!” she said. “Take bike to park!”. I reminded her that she doesn’t actually have a bike, but she was insistent and eventually tearful and then tantrumming.  She has a bike and she wanted to take it to the park.  So.  I assume she has a bike at Daddy’s house.  Not only that, at Daddy’s house there are two cars and three other children, all of whom she talks about frequently. I am fully aware that Daddy is more exciting than Mummy.  I know, of course, that she loves me, that if she lived at Daddy’s house most of the time I would probably be more exciting.  But it does hurt when she is so keen to leave me and go and stay with Daddy, and when she cries when she comes home and Daddy leaves her here.

I am so trying not to engage in competitive parenting. It’s true that when she wanted her slippers on and she didn’t have any, I did think ‘Oh, you have slippers at Daddy’s house, do you? Right…’ and we bought some slippers (I know, what sort of neglectful parent doesn’t buy slippers for their children? I just don’t like wearing them myself, so we didn’t have any). But there’s always this fear that one day, when they are big enough to choose, my children will choose to live with Daddy.  That they will leave me because I’m not fun enough, not exciting enough, don’t have as many awesome toys, spend all my time doing housework (badly).  It’s hard enough feeling like you are a good enough parent when they live with you all the time and don’t know any different.  Once there’s something to compare you to, something else to prefer and choose, it can feel very frightening.

You can, of course, tell me that children always love their mum, that they will appreciate the security they have with me, that this is their home. But I’m probably not going to believe you.

Single parents, how do you live with this?


4 responses to “Competitive parenting

  1. zpembers says:

    well, its like you just reached into my brain, pulled out my fears about jake and rob, and then put them in your blog. I sort of cope by trying not to think about it. and by buying slippers for him because he has slippers at robs (but now that he has some here, he’s not fussed) and by getting a cat (which we lost – daddy probably wouldnt lose his cat) and buying him his bike first. so i cope with it pretty badly.

    i guess that probably the best way of dealing with it would be to try not to think about it. Just focus on doing the best you can when you’ve got them. Also, you have the advantage of big and little girl realising when they’re older that daddy is living with a skank, so the house will be less appealing.

    Sorry. That was incredibly unhelpful i imagine. although at least you know that you’re not the only one who feels like that about the childrens other side of family.

    • Well, your ‘skank’ comment made me laugh a little and cry a little…

      I try not to think about it, but also to be aware that it is an issue for me. I want to be the best parent I can to my children, and to have the best relationship I can with them, just for the sake of us, not to try and beat someone else. I want them to love their dad and enjoy being with him and have a good relationship with him. I am trying to work out whether it is a zero-sum game. I don’t love Big Girl less for having Little Girl, and I would never have thought they would love me less for loving Ex-Husband when we were together, so why should that change now we’re separated? I suppose it’s because they are now with one or the other of us, not both, and there will come a time where they have real preferences. Children are supposed to grow up and grow away from their parents and emerge as independent adults. I just feel that I’m losing part of them far too early.

  2. Elphaba says:

    You totally summed up my fears. Every one I know dismisses my fears, as they hate my ex so much they can’t imagine why dd or ds would choose to live with him instead of me. But I don’t want either of my kids to grow up hating their daddy or even feeling like they have to choose. Just, dont want them to prefer living with him than me.

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