Who do you love more?

29 Jun

I’m going to write on a topic that has been simply “OFF – LIMITS” in my life.

I don’t talk about this with my husband or my best friend.  And between the two of them, they know absolutely everything.  I don’t carry around secrets.  I did for a long time and I was tormented and always heavy with burden and felt constant regret and attack.

However, I never really talked on my real feelings on this topic. Today though, I think I’m ready to give some insights and perspectives on it.

When my oldest son was around the age of 1 1/2 or 2, my husband started asking him “whose your best buddy?”  And in his little sweet voice he’d say “Daddy.” It was ADORABLE!!

I mean, what mom doesn’t want her sons to think that Daddy is a Hero?!

When we had our second son, and he was of the age to talk and understand questions – we (yes, I joined in the “fun”) would as him, “whose your best buddy” to which he would also answer “Daddy.”  It was all too cute!

Until, the moment the question changed from “whose your best buddy” to “who do you love more, mom or dad?”  And yes, both boys always responded the same way “Daddy.”

To be honest with you, they were 2-4 years old, so it wasn’t like they were even able to wrap their tiny minds around a question like that, nor have any idea what their answer really meant.  To them, “Daddy was their best buddy and gave them a big reaction when they said his name in response to those questions.”  And other people actually gave REALLY BIG reactions too.  I was surprised a little how many people would “ooh and ahh” and cheer over them saying “Daddy is their best buddy and they love him more than mommy.”

I think just because the cuteness and the hope that every boy loves their Daddy was overshadowing the bigger picture.

The reality for me was that it was really starting to hurt my feelings, A LOT.  I kind of felt sheepish and silly and didn’t want to appear jealous or like I was taking things our of perspective, so I really didn’t say much about it.  Because like I said, I understood that they really didn’t know what they were saying might possibly hurt mommy.

This continued with our third son and our daughter.

I’ll never forget the first time when Marisa was asked “whose your best buddy” and she said “Mommy!” because I felt a bit of relief.  Something like, “whew, OK, so maybe all this time it’s just really a boy thing.”  But that answer didn’t last long.  It was very short-lived and she jumped on the Daddy-train with the boys.

To be really vulnerable here, I remember over the years thinking quite a few things.

– How can they possibly love Daddy more, he’s hardly ever around?

– I’m the one who does everything for them.

– I’m the one who takes them to play.  I have to force Josh to go with us on bike rides, to the park, or even just outside because he’d rather lay in the chair and take a nap.

– I’m the one who picks out and buys all their presents.

– I don’t even discipline them as “meanly” as he does.

On Mother’s Day this year, Josh told our three-year old son to say “I love you Mommy.”  To which he responded “No, I love Daddy.”  To which Josh said, “Yes, but you also love mommy. You’re going to hurt her feelings.”  To which Jaxon said “No I don’t, I love Daddy.”

To which I finally said “Just stop, please.  It’s OK.  He doesn’t understand what he’s suppose to say and he doesn’t understand that might hurt Mom’s feelings.”

You see, Josh never wanted the kids to say they don’t love me, like me or need me in their life.  He never wanted to hurt my feelings.  It was just a little game started 8  years ago to be cute and fun.  He’s a REALLY good father and husband.  And he values and appreciates every part of me being the mother of his kids.  I know he wouldn’t choose anyone else.  And I also know that there is NO WAY he would stand for the kids hurting my feelings on purpose or really loving him more or not loving me at all.

But….

Even now, I recently heard my 8-year-old tell his 6-year-old brother after he said “I’d rather go with dad,” “don’t say that to mom, it’ll hurt her feelings.”

I’ve pondered this a long time.  Even though the questions “Whose your best buddy” and “Who do you love more” are just little questions meant to be funny and entertaining…. they’re really damaging.

Here are a few reasons why I don’t think you should ask your kids that:

1.) It teaches them from the beginning that it’s expected for you to pick mom or dad over the other.

2.) It models the idea that you can’t love equally, you should feel more or stronger feelings for one parent.

3.) It removes their understanding of sensitivity and how you can’t just say anything you want, no matter how true it is, or how funny it’s suppose to be, without filtering it through wisdom and love, less you might really hurt someone else.

4.) It brings up inner struggles for the kids later – say Mom is going to their favorite spot in the park, but Dad is staying home to watch a movie… and you ask the kids – which do you want to do?  They battle the idea that their suppose to pick what Daddy is doing because he’s their best buddy and they love him more…. even though they like what Mom is going to do more.

5.) It can become VERY hurtful to the other parent. (I won’t speak for all parents just incase anyone else plays this game and they think I’m being ridiculous with this post.)

6.) Should anything happen to the parent that is “the best friend or is more loved” it leaves the child with an unequal parent left.  I personally feel it’s better to have a very strong understanding from the start that mommy and daddy are best friends and a package deal.  They are on the same team, love all the kids equally, and are “friends” with them equally.  That way, there is never division or “sides” later on in teenage years when the kids face more challenging issues.

Practical Application:

If you don’t have kids yet, when you do – just avoid questions like “Whose your best buddy?” and “Who do you love more, Mom or Dad?”

If you do have kids and you ask this stuff – stop.  It’s not worth what *might* happen.

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4 Responses to “Who do you love more?”

  1. peacefulwife June 29, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    I agree! I don’t think children should be put in that position! One set of grandparents in our family asks questions like this. I think it is hurtful. Thank you for talking about this subject! I want to teach our children to love God and to love people – not to try to label “who I love most.”

    Of course, if we are to love anyone the most – hands down, it’s got to be God! But that is never the question that is asked, is it?

    • Kayla Gulick June 29, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Right.

      The thing is, I know that almost everyone is asking in an innocent and fun way – which is why I think it’s important to spread the word about the possible side-effects of those questions instead of trying to repair the damage after the fact.

  2. trixie1466 June 29, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Kayla, I think its great you brought this up. Some things that can seem so innocent can be really hurtfuk. It’s a good principle to remember.

    • Kayla Gulick June 29, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Thank you! I always appreciate to hear from my readers and the thoughts they have!!

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