Does the Daddy-Daughter Bond Leave Mama Out?

I can’t stand stereotypes. I don’t like the way they pigeonhole a person or group. I despise, for example, being thought of as a bad driver because I am a woman. But what I loathe more than the stereotype itself is the fact that in my particular case, it’s at least somewhat true. I have both an off sense of direction and limited depth perception that has sent me over many a curb, and my dear male counterpart does not let me forget such driving indiscretions.

Though I never was one, the daddy’s girl is another stereotype I have a problem with. A daddy’s girl wraps her father around her little finger so that when Mama says, “Absolutely not”, Daddy steps in and says, “Whatever you want, Sweetheart” because he adores and dotes on her. This, of course, leaves Mama rolling her eyes and stockpiling emotional ammo for the next showdown between her partner and herself.

So is there truth to this stereotype? Well, for me there is because I live with two daddy’s girls.

The daddy-daughter bond began for both of my girls at birth. With my first, Daddy was instantly in love. Blame it on the drugs or the lack of sleep, but I was not. When she was finally brought to me in recovery after my emergency C-section, I looked at this little red-faced thing with jet black hair sticking up in every direction and wondered what the heck she was supposed to be. While her father snuggled his precious daughter, I was pushing the nurse’s button and begging for more drugs to put me out of my misery.

Perhaps it was the natural bond between father and daughter, or maybe it was the trauma and recovery I went through that pushed our baby girl more toward her daddy. One thing is certain, though. She has always been closer to her father. And with her parents now divorced, her preference for Daddy is even more visible. During my week with her, she draws pictures of the two of them together, which she proudly shows off and lovingly bestows upon him when he comes to pick her up. The reverse is not true for me.

Allow me to pause for a moment to say that I am not sorry my daughter has such a strong bond with her father. I know that many girls are growing up without a father figure or with an abusive one. I consider myself fortunate that this is not the story for either of my girls.

As for my younger daughter, the father-daughter relationship began even before birth. Each night, he would put his hand on my growing belly and coo, “How’s Daddy’s girl?” Whenever he did this, she would snuggle up under his touch and answer his question with a kick. So, it should have come as no surprise that Daddy has developed such a strong attachment to his girl in the months since her birth. For me, there was again trauma and recovery, and her premature arrival complicated things even more. Afraid to touch her frail form, I held back when we visited her in the NICU. Daddy did not, so yet again, baby grew closer to her father. And now she cries for him when I try to pick her up.

Whether the early bond between my girls and their daddies is natural or the result of the first nurturing they received, I will never know. But today, I see another explanation for my girls’ preference for their daddies. It’s the separation factor. Both are separated from Daddy more than Mama. In both situations, Daddy works while Mama is at home. Thus, Mama is the one who takes care of the daily routine — naps, snacks, violin class, homework, etc. Daddy offers a break from the routine. The older one peeks through the blinds to see if her father has arrived yet. The younger one lets out an excited squeal at the sound of the door unlocking.

I sometimes get frustrated with my daughters’ preference for Daddy. It leaves me feeling like I do more of the parental workload with less reward. But then, when I start feeling this way, one or both of my girls surprises me. The older one will randomly sit next to me on the couch and say, “I love you, Mama.” Or, the younger one will walk up to me and offer her pacifier. Then I realize that Daddy’s girl still has a place for Mama. And that helps keep me in check.

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9 Responses to Does the Daddy-Daughter Bond Leave Mama Out?

  1. mamadestroy says:

    I am a married mother of two boys, and though my situation is completely different, I think I can relate to what you feel. After a long rainy day, when they’ve trashed our home and I’ve read stories, set up blocks and set out art supplies, prepared three meals and provided snacks, tidied up (or tried at least a little), mopped up tears as needed, and kept them from killing each other– basically spending my entire day devoted to their entertainment and comfort, there is nothing more disheartening then their cries of “DADDY!” when he walks in the door. My husband is a wonderful father, and a spectacular man, but he is not the one telling them that they can’t stick their fingers in electrical sockets or have yet another cookie. He doesn’t have to be the bad guy. And it can leave me feeling unappreciated. Your girls will always remember who was there for them. Be well.

    • zomelie says:

      If it’s any comfort, they will likely attribute their future successes to you. Completely ignoring him, they will say, “Thanks, Mom!” Good luck!

  2. We’re still fairly new at this (Baguette is 16 months old), but I am delighted at the father-daughter bond that she and Mr. Sandwich have. Both of us work outside the home, so her daytime separation from us is roughly equal–and I’m sure that makes a difference in my perception of this as well. But I know that Mr. Sandwich is often a little sad that in the mornings, Baguette wants to wake up with me. That’s why I make a point of telling him about how after he leaves for work, she says “Daddy! Daddy!” over and over again. Right now he’s in the process of making wooden blocks for her. When she hears power tools, she says, “Daddy!” and wants me to go get him. I love the way her face lights up when he comes in the door, just as it does when I come home.

    I’m sure that I’d feel differently if I were home all day with her. I wonder if my mother felt as you do when we greeted my father coming home from work. It’s entirely possible, although she never mentioned it.

    • zomelie says:

      Thanks for offering your perspective. It’s always good to hear how others experience this crazy world of parenting.

      • I was really glad to read yours. I believe that each of our families is unique, and I like learning about other people’s experiences–just because we’re unique doesn’t mean there’s no overlap!

  3. Ack, this must be hard. Miss L prefers me to her dad right now, and it hurts him a lot. But I know exactly what you mean about not having the opportunity to be the “fun parent.” Miss L wants me to do the hard work, the diaper changes, the consoling, the feeding, the bathing. But she’s perfectly happy to play legos with Dad.

  4. flybytheseat says:

    That’s a cute blog! I can sort of relate! Although I don’t have children, I do have a little female dog, who just recently came into my home. My boyfriend and I don’t live together, so when he comes over, she’s all happy to see him, the one who doesn’t discipline her. She’s been drawing nearer and nearer to him, and I can’t help but to get a little jealous sometimes. I call her daddy’s girl. But hey, she still loves her mama, and shows me often, so I can’t complain.

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