ENGLAND — Parental relationships can be complicated. Our parents can be our best friends or our worst enemies, depending on the occasion. Traditionally, children are supposed to love both their mother and father equally, but a new survey has found that many people favor one parent over the other.
Interestingly, these allegiances seem to flip flop as children age. Children are initially closer to their mothers, but 35% switch over to team dad by age 13. However, by the age of 20, one third of that 35% will switch back to preferring their mother.
Many children appear to be proud of their closeness with a particular parent; with 21% of male respondents calling themselves a mama’s boy, and 22% of female respondents agreeing that they’re daddy’s girl.
“It’s often assumed that children are always closest to their mum, but this simply isn’t the case,” explains Siobhan Freegard, a parenting expert with ChannelMum, in a statement. “As fathers become more hands-on, there are plenty of children and adults who value the bond with dad just as much – and in some cases even more than their relationship with their mum.”
Additionally, the survey found that different life events can influence parent preferences among children. Having a baby, for example, is more likely to bring people closer to their mothers than their fathers. Grown sons and daughters will also turn to their mothers more often when they move, get their first job, or get married. On the other hand, children are generally more likely to develop shared interests with their fathers as they enter adulthood. Children also feel closer to their fathers after being taught a new skill or craft by dad.
The survey also shed some light on sibling relationship dynamics. Almost one in five respondents admitted to being jealous of a sibling’s relationship with their parents. As far as jealousy among parents, 13% of parental respondents said they feel jealous when their children “pick” the other parent.
It’s common for parents to fear drifting apart from their children; more than four in 10 parental respondents admitted that losing touch with their children as they grow older is a major concern.
However, at the end of the day, the survey showed the most important factor in building a positive parent-child relationship is being there for each other no matter what (58%). Other important relationship building factors included being able to talk about any topic (58%), spending quality time together (56%), establishing mutual respect (55%), and forgiving each other when mistakes are made (45%).
The survey was conduced by OnePoll.