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My friend is very distraught as her son prefers her ex-husband.
When it’s her turn to have her son overnight, he will often ask to go to his dad’s home when it’s time to go to bed.
She has tried to make him a safe and loving, and fun home when he’s with her. Her son often just says that he has spent enough time with her and wants to be with his dad. That hurts her feelings.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get through this? Should they make him stay with his mom on these occasions or give him a choice to go to his dad’s home if he wants to.?
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I really feel for your friend in this situation. Co-parenting must be so difficult. Although I understand that it must feel hurtful for your friend, it is completely normal for a child to show preference towards one parent. This can change through different ages and stages in their life and it is unsurprising that the child is feeling connected to the same-sex parent.
Depending on how old the child is, your friend could explain to the child that she is so glad that he has such a great relationship with his dad and that she really wants to have a strong relationship with him too - and that means spending time together. I would recommend finding out his interests and spending time with him doing those things. Are there certain things he does at Dad's house that you could get involved in when he is at your house. I think it is not a good idea to try to hard to be the favorite, but would be really beneficial to find ways for you to connect with your son on a deeper level.
If you have a good relationship with the child's father, you could also chat with him about it and ask for his support. Best of luck.
This is such a hard situation your friend finds herself in. I can both understand it, and empathize. What age is your friend's son? This will likely have an impact on how he is engaging with his mom. Younger boys still want to be with their moms, regardless of the relationship between the parents, but older sons may wish to be more with their dads because they feel more of a connection. It could also be that her son can "get away" with more when he's with his dad, so he doesn't feel as structured when he is around him.
Whatever age, your friend may be able to connect with her son by doing a couple of things.
When she has the alone time with her son, point out ways that she is unique as his mom, just as her ex-husband is unique as his dad. This may help him to see how each person, each parent, is an individual, with different likes/dislikes, parenting ways, etc. He may genuinely not recognize that each of his parents is an individual person, and not just his parent. Helping him to see this may open his eyes to want to get to know his mom on a different level.
Your friend needs to be able to manage her feelings. Feeling rejected by your own child is devastating, yes, but if it's just a phase the son is going through, it doesn't have to mean she is being rejected, she's just not the preferred parent right now, for a number of different reasons. It's hard not to take it personally, but it genuinely could be that your friend's ex just connects better with his son, at this stage of life. One year down the road, he may connect more with his mom.
And while she is managing her own feelings, your friend may also need to engage in some positive self-talk. Divorce takes a toll on a person's self-image and confidence levels. She may need to recognize her worth is still intact, regardless of how her marriage turned out. Her worth is also not based on how her child feels about her. I'm sure the environment she's created, and love she's shown her son is a reflection of who she is as a person, and she may need to remind herself of these facts on a daily basis.
And even though it may be really, really hard, maybe she can talk to her ex about this situation. There may be things he does, that she could also do, which would help her son feel more comfortable with her during their time together. It could be a simple thing like "Dad lets me have pizza, without having to also eat a salad," so it's something she could adapt to.
I hope she find peace within this situation, I really do understand how difficult it can be.