Dear Mr. Dad: I am the mother of a 12-year-old girl. We used to be very close, but she’s recently made it very clear that she only wants to be with her father. She’s never happy to see me, but she’s always happy to see my husband. No matter how much I try to understand, it just hurts to be ignored or pushed away. Is it normal for girls this age to prefer their fathers?
A: I often hear from dads who feel that their children prefer mom, so your question was especially interesting. Unfortunately, feeling rejected by their children in favor of the other parent is a relatively common phenomenon – the difference is that women, I think, are less likely to admit it than men.
Just about all moms and daughters go through tough times – and no time is tougher than the teen years. Although there’s no question that your daughter’s behavior stings, try to keep in mind that no matter what she says, she really does love you and need you.
Unfortunately, as painful as the whole situation is, it’s important to try not to let it get to you (at least in front of your daughter) and that you frequently remind her that you’ll always love her and will always be there for her.
Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve always wondered why parents of large families sometimes give all their children names beginning with the first letter, as in, “Hi, I’d like you to meet my kids: Connie, Carla, Christopher, Caligula, Charles, and Conner.” How long has this trend been around?
A: Having all the kids’ names start with the same letter or sound may make them feel connected – to their siblings and the family as a whole – particularly if a child is adopted. It might also be a memory aid for those times (and all parents have them) when they call their children by the wrong name or the dog’s name or can’t remember the right name at all.
There’s a lot of research on how children’s names influence their future. By as young as 4 or 5 months, children tend to prefer their own names to the names of others.
And when they start trying to spell words on their own, they tend to use the letters in their first name more often than other letters.
Other research indicates that children with certain names are more likely to be successful in life than those with other names. Some researchers have found, for example, that boys with unusual names have more emotional problems than boys with traditional names (Hmm. Does Armin count?)
Overall, the best thing you can do for your child is give him or her a name that’s unique but easy to spell, pronounce and remember.