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My 2-year-old is misbehaving a lot less with me, than with his mom. He goes to bed without issues, stops watching TV when it's time for bed, no tantrums in the super market (mostly), no problems with brushing teeth, when he is with me. With his mom, it's a very different story.

When he is with her there is constant tension, which is partly her reaction to his behaviour, but he does act up more with her, he insists on what he wants more, he cries far longer, when he doesn't get it. For example, when I go for a long subway drive with him, he starts to complain and revolt at some point, but it's manageable, whereas with her it's a lot worse. I definitley don't let him do as much in public, I tend to insist holding his hand for example, while she is more willing, to let him run around the super market for example.

I have suspected, that this is due to him feeling more close to his mom, and maybe because I am less prone to give in to his "tactics" and more likely to ignore the tantrums and make less compromises etc.

I have read, that a child will let out stronger emotions, when with mom, because of the closer relationship with her. Especially when she comes back from work, he will instantly go to her and start acting up, which I read is good for the child, as a way to vent or let it all out.

I have noticed, that when I start making more compromises, that he starts to act up more with me too. At least, that's what I think I noticed, anecdotally.

So I thought, maybe him not acting up with me is actually a sign of a feeling of distance? Maybe I should optimize for more acting up with me not less? On the other hand he seems perfectly fine and happy, knowing that there is no point arguing with me about brushing teeth and watching TV, since it's a hopeless cause. He seems to be calm and happy, knowing exactly what is going to happen next, etc. I also often spend time with him and he doesn't complain, most of the time, when his mother leaves and he falls asleep with only me present without issue.

So basically I am not sure, what would be better for him: Feeling more intimate with me, but acting up more. Or maybe feeling more distance to me, but being calmer and acting up less?

Is there any data on the subject?

  • Welcome to Parenting SE. This could be caused from differences in your personalities, stress levels, energy levels, etc. Is Mom tired from work and home responsabilities? Are you less stressed because you haven't been watching him all day? Children thrive on routines, but your wife might have a different routine than you do. Can you provide any information about what might be different between when your son is with you vs. with your wife? – elbrant Jan 13 at 2:10
  • When he is with her there is constant tension, which is partly her reaction to his behaviour, but he does act up more with her, he insists on what he wants more, he cries far longer, when he doesn't get it. For example, when I go for a long subway drive with him, he starts to complain and revolt at some point, but its manageable, whereas with her its a lot worse. I definitley don't let him do as much in public, I tend to insist holding his hand for example, while she is more willing, to let him run around the super market for example. – user1721135 Jan 13 at 2:39
  • I think it is more of a dominance thing. You are the alpha in the house. He knows that. He will love his mother cause that is how kids are wired. I would say that a well behaved kids is the way to go. You are the parents not their best friends. – Elia Jan 13 at 4:28

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