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Dad Bluntly Explains To Wife That Their Kids Like Him More Since He Spends More Time With Them

Son with kids
Kentaroo Tryman/Getty Images

Even though parents are encouraged not to have a “favorite child,” children do not necessarily have the same filter about their preferences.

In fact, it’s normal for kids to gravitate to a default parent, reasoned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITAH) subReddit.

Redditor Alexandertheking loved spending time with his kids and was aware that he was spending more time with them than his wife because he got up and went to bed at the same time as the kids.

When his wife complained about the kids preferring him, the Original Poster (OP) pointed out how she wasn’t spending as much time with the kids as he was.

He asked the sub:

“AITAH for bluntly explaining to my wife why our kids like me more than her?”

The OP’s wife had started to complain about not being the favorite parent in the household.

“My wife and I own our own business, so we work the same job with the same hours.”

“My wife has been complaining recently that our kids always seem to prefer spending time with me over her.”

“They never go to her for anything they need. It’s always me.”

The OP thought the answer was obvious.

“I just answered that it’s because I spend more time with them than she does.”

“She stated that I don’t, so I broke it down for her just point blank.”

“Both kids are young and need parental supervision for everything.”

“They wake between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM every day. I am the one who gets up with them every single morning. My wife gets up at 7:30 AM on weekdays and at about 9:00 AM on weekends.”

“Low end, that’s 13.5 hours I spend more with them.”

“I also do bedtime for both kids. That takes about one hour each night for baths and stories, etc.”

“That’s another seven hours per week.”

The OP also did more of the out-of-the-house activities.

“My wife also says she gets stressed out or touched out a lot, so I often take the kids with me to the supermarket or to the park or something to let her have a long bath in peace or an afternoon nap.”

“There’s probably around three and a half more hours a week if we also add in that I’m the one who also takes kids to all extracurriculars and picks them up.”

“She does love the kids. I think I just enabled her too much to have an easier life.”

“What parent would say no to more sleep and some independent time? It started as something I did for her to have some chill-out time and has just spiraled.”

“She does not ever have the kids on her own. The longest she does is the time it takes me to have a shower and get dressed each morning.”

The OP’s wife did not appreciate his feedback.

“So I just broke it down plainly like above. I effectively spend a full actual day more a week with them.”

“I didn’t say it in any kind of a moaning way or anything like that, and I don’t think I was demeaning toward her. I do actually really enjoy spending time with them, so I’m quite happy with the arrangement.”

“I just feel that she can’t complain that the kids don’t want to spend time with her when she spends proportionally so much less of her time with them.”

“Am I the a**hole for pointing this out?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some reassured the OP that those little moments added up over time.

“My dad used to be the one to do breakfast in the mornings, tell us stories at night, help us with homework, drop off/pick up from ballet lessons. He’d take us all on individual days out where he really gave us personal time. He’d randomly just take me to art galleries or museums.”

“He once, when I was probably six or seven, and we were visiting the UK because we were living abroad, took me for a surprise day in London to go see absolutely everything to do with the great fire of London and Samuel Pepys (I was very interested in it). He knew all my interests and encouraged them so much.”

“This would be unheard of with my mum. We have nothing to talk about even today. I don’t think she really knows me. I actually can’t think of many childhood memories I have with her.”

“They had a messy breakup. My mum is very cold with me but my dad was super emotional and was my best friend (he passed away in 2015). My mum has never been able to grasp how close I was to my dad and why I love him more than anybody, and it angers her, and she really resents me, and she lets me know that.”

“She tries to list the more practical reasons as to why she’s ‘better’ than him, but all kids ever want/need/care about is their parents’ time. It’s so simple.” – Serious-Ad9032

“One-on-one time is so important. My mom, without a doubt, spent more time with me as a kid. She was a stay-at-home mom. My dad worked hard and was often out of town. But he was always there for important stuff.”

“He took me and my brother out to do stuff and he’d take us individually to hang out. He always made time for us.”

“I undoubtedly spent more hours with my mom altogether. But I’m way closer with my dad because the time we spent together was out of want and love whereas with my mom, it was because she had to be there. She never did anything with us ‘just because.'”

“The quality of the time is far more important than the quantity. And kids aren’t as stupid as people assume. They can usually tell when you don’t really care about them. So I’m not shocked OP’s kids aren’t close with their mom.” – FaintestGem

“My parents have been divorced since I was 18 months old; my dad had me on weekends, and my mom had me on weekdays. In my world, mom was always working and taking care of my half-siblings. She tried to get one-on-one time where she could, but it was difficult when she worked every day she had me.”

“My dad was off on the weekends and we spent a lot of quality time together. He taught me how to read, how to garden, we cooked and baked together, we had a restaurant we’d go to every Saturday morning, we’d go to museums and on hikes (I hated exercise, but he always stressed the importance).”

“If you were to ask me who my favorite parent was, it was dad because I was the center of my dad’s world when I saw him.” – This_is_fine8

“I know someone who is a doctor and during the height of the pandemic her son, still an infant, would sometimes not see her for one to two (even three) days at a time. Yet, she maintained breastfeeding, would duck home on breaks if she could, and sacrificed catching up on sleep to spend her days off with him instead of taking him to daycare.”

“She is an active person so that meant going to the park, taking a bike ride, spending time in the garden, stuff that was a special thing to do with mom.”

“As a result, kiddo is extremely bonded to her and goes to her just as much as he goes to his dad, who, at times, was admittedly more of a single parent. The timing of his birth was unfortunate because of the pandemic but they had tried so long for kids…”

“Luckily she has more time now, but she found a way when he was little to dedicate one-on-one no matter how hard it was.” – aigret

“Until I was about 12, I was a real sticky momma’s boy. She was just my parent, and my dad, for all the providing he did and for all the things we did do together (so I hesitate to call him uninvolved by any stretch) but he just wasn’t nearly as present in my life as a young pup.”

“At about 12, though, I started to become a lot more independent. I lived close enough to walk to school, and I sometimes woke up earlier than my mom and little sister, but not my dad. We had breakfast just the two of us pretty much every morning. And I can’t even recall any meaningful outcome of that other than it was just pleasant.”

“This then continued when I got to high school and me and dad were up and out of the house before mom and sister even got out of bed. Again, no deep father/son talks, no bonding over anything. Just time spent in each other’s company.”

“I think there’s something to be said for the fact that he wasn’t my main parent as a little kid. He seemed to have a much easier time getting on board with adolescence and treating me (increasingly) like a grown-up than my mom did, who it honestly took until I was closer to 28 than 18 to really get on board with having an adult child. That made those mornings a little more special, just hanging out not being parented every minute of the day.”

“I guess the picture I’m trying to paint is one where neither parent was absent in my life despite one being around a lot more, especially as a youth. And the point I’m trying to build to is that maybe look forward to when they’re a little bit older, and you can have that morning time before school/work.” – thefalseidol

Others applauded the OP for keeping the conversation neutral and hoped his wife would step up.

“The thing is, is she so bothered that she’s actually going to do anything about it, or is her ‘me time’ and her hours of extra sleep more important?” – idkwhyimdoingthis2

“To be fair, that sort of thing can sneak up on you. I was a pretty checked-out parent for much of my daughter’s first year. It was just because I was so tired all the time, but I had to have some real raw, honest talks with my wife before I understood how that was affecting her. But once I did understand, I took steps to make positive change.”

“Now that wife can no longer plead ignorance, the ball is in her court to either make a change or double down on how she’s been doing things.” – LorkhanLives

“OP’s wife doesn’t really seem to enjoy spending time with the kids, which they definitely will pick up on if they haven’t already. There’s a big difference between a parent working and a parent who just doesn’t want them near her.” – Mrsbear19

“NTA. You were honest with her. She probably just was hoping you would lie and say, ‘the KiDs Don’T preFeR ME tO yOu,’ and stroke her ego.”

“I actually had family in a similar situation to yours. When I grew up my mom was the one who we spent more time with and if we got hurt we would cry and want our mom. My cousins spent more time with their dad and he did the parenting.”

“Like, when both parents got home from work, dad would take care of the kids, start dinner, etc., and mom would play games on the computer or grab a bag of chips and watch TV. So when the kids would get hurt, they would want their dad or cry for their dad. For instance, if we wanted to go do something and I would go ask my mom out of habit, they would go ask their dad out of habit.”

“The kids prefer you because that’s what they know and it’s a direct result of the amount of time your wife spends with her kids.” – TTIsurvivors

“This is a common occurrence, one parent complaining about not being the favorite, but it’s just usually with reversed genders. I may be a little harsh here because I do not have children. But by telling your wife this you are empowering her to change the situation.”

“Therefore I think by plainly setting it out you are making her face reality. I didn’t have children in part because I was sure it would overwhelm me. However, I did childcare quite a bit and this is just how it works. It’s not just about quantity of time, either.”

“The person who performs the children’s routines (predictable and familiar) with them regularly is the person children go to in need. Parents can make it even enough that no parent is really preferred.”

“So, if she doesn’t like it, she has to work to change the situation.”

“NTA.” – Raisins_Rock

After receiving feedback, the OP gave an update.

“My 18-month-old woke at 5:30 AM this morning. It’s now 7:30 AM, and she’s still in bed, so clearly our conversation had no impact.”

“I don’t really care or have any desire to change things because I quite like how they are so I don’t plan to push it.”

The subReddit applauded the OP for doing the math and for being honest with his wife, which would empower her to make a change or not, depending on what she truly wanted.

Not getting enough time with our loved ones can really sneak up on us, but if it matters to us, it’s something we can absolutely work on.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.