We have been living with my wife brother for 3 years now, My kids are very excited whenever their uncle comes from door and not me. This sort of hurt, not sure why but what my kids (almost 7 and 2) aren't excited to see me?

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    Not sure if it helps but my niece also used to be extremely, overly excited when seeing a particular one of her aunts, way more than when seeing her own mother. I guess it's because the parents are always there anyway. Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 12:58
  • when you stop giving them attention and focus on changing your life then your behaviour of kids towards you definitely chenged. You wanted to changed them so that they will respect you that's is main problem. You should change yourself first then everything will change accordingly
    – user43070
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 13:02
  • Are you excited to see your kids when you come home? Before they were able to be excited themselves, what were you like? They kind of model that.
    – Nelson
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 9:23
  • Were you excited to see your parents when they got home when you were a kid? Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 14:57
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    Lots of answers, with good potential explanations and best intentions. But with the information given, it's impossible to give a correct answer. You say you've been living with your wife's brother. This can indicate all sorts of problems for a family, or none at all. Kids are sensitive to the behaviour of adults, even if they don't show. If it bothers you, you can talk to them, at least the 7 year old. Even at that age, they would want to know you're hurt, and would want to make it better. As long as you approach the subject lighthearted, and don't place any blame. Good luck Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 19:37

8 Answers 8


This is pretty normal with parents everywhere - we're not interesting or different, we're just ... there. Go on a trip without your kids for a few weeks, and you'll see some very excited kids when you return more than likely!

In your case, even if the uncle is "always there", he's still not a parent, and so has a different relationship. Parents are safe, comfortable, but not exciting; uncles and aunts are different, because they don't have the same responsibilities and closeness. They get to do fun things, spoil the children, change things up - while the parents are the ones that make sure they get dressed in the morning, go to school, eat dinner, all the mundane things.

That doesn't mean they don't care for their parents just as much - more - than the others, though. It's just that they're comfortable, not exciting - but comfortable is pretty important when they get hurt, physically or emotionally, are scared, or need a hug!

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    I know I am not fun but it was hurtful. Over time I didn't hurt but today when my son was hiding behind a wall coz uncle would open the door, and he usually surprises him. when he saw me he walked inside with a sad face and his little brother too.
    – localhost
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 17:49
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    For sure. Kids are very "open books", they've not learned yet to modulate their expressions and statements based on social conventions or not hurting others' feelings. They learn that over time, especially if they have good role models, but it's not instant - it takes often until they're quite old to be able to really control what they show.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 21:43
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    @localhost How does uncle react when surprised? (Is it feigning surprise and then chasing/playing?) How does that compare to what you do when surprised? (Is it "There you are. Go clean your room."?) It's not unexpected to be disappointed when an expected fun experience turns out not to materialize. You might enjoy frozen yogurt, but it can still be a disappointment if you were anticipating ice cream.
    – R.M.
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 16:31
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    Also, @localhost - please keep in mind that you do not know what they are thinking. You may be hurt, but part of that is what you assume about their thoughts, which might not be accurate. Let your hurt be a force for good: let it motivate you to be a more involved parent! I’m sure your kids love you more than you know. Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 13:48

When my children were small, I thought, "They are the flowers; I'm just the dirt they are growing in." But that is a beautiful thing! The flower does not notice the soil, but the soil provides all the nutrition and a safe place for the roots to anchor.

You are your children's security. You give them food and shelter. You are the person, with their mother, who will comfort them when they cry. They depend on you. You are the center of their lives. That isn't exciting, but it is a deep soul love that your children will carry forever.

It does hurt when they aren't excited to see you, but remind yourself that the solid, deep love between you and your children will endure far longer than the brief excitement they feel when their uncle comes home.

Now that my children are young adults and I am much older, they spend a lot of time with me because they want to. We have a lot of fun together, and they help me. I don't even have to ask. I'm very lucky, yes, but I think it's partly because of the solid foundation of love and respect we built when they were young.

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    I like the image a lot of the flowers and the soil a lot. Will probably reuse it if I may? Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 21:11
  • Be my guest. :) Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 21:38
  • I, too, was struck by that statement. It’s really apt, and a lovely and loving way to look at parenting. Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 13:49

Parents have a role in the children's world that is profoundly different from other relatives, parent's friends and other adults.

It is parents who take and enforce the unpopular decisions related to raisng kids - e.g. food and clothes choice, bed time, school attendance and school-related tasks, personal hygiene, house-related tasks assigned to children, etc, etc...

Children pretty much know that mom and dad are above anything else, but this is not exciting - they just take this for granted. And it is.

At later age, teachers share some of this aura with parents.

Other close adults are not exciting by themselves, they are exciting because of the fact that they are only playful. This is their only role in the kid's world.

Other adults are just like the other kids, but capable of doing more interesting things.

You cannot aim (or at least should not aim) for their position.

If you really miss this excitement - just wait until they turn 25.

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    Everybody loves daddy at 5 and hates dad at 15. Only at 35 it will become apparent if you are the kind of father that your kids come to for all their lives for advice and support, or not.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 11:53
  • This. Frankly, if this were well known beforehand, the human race would probably have died out by now. But like you, I heard it all is going to be well when they turn 25.
    – AnoE
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 12:43

I suspect that they don't see you as a playful parent. The simple fix to this is to play with them more. Tickle them, build a fort, tell them stupid dad jokes and so on to get them to connect you with having fun.

If you already do this then maybe you have to do it more/practice. You can also discuss with the mom of course, she probably knows the reason for this.

  • I think this is the best answer. If you are the parent who engages and plays with your child (rather than "not now" or "be quiet"), the children will be more eager. As a parent, balance is needed, but balance on the side of positive engagement and minimize the negative. The parent should watch the face, body language and behavior of the people his children engage with an honestly assess how his body language, face and behavior compare. The children are finding reward for their uncle-engagement... figure out what that is and imitate it. Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 19:02
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    And especially do this when you first see them after being away from them. If you want people to get excited, give them something to get excited about. Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 22:41
  • While this answer may not be the sole answer, it is DEFINITELY important to show your kids love in a way they can understand and appreciate, while still molding them properly. Please understand though, while you should follow the guidance in this answer, don't expect to see changes in your children right away, it will take some time. But whatever you do, don't let that discourage you. Keep at it, and you will see results. Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 14:12

I'm afraid this is fairly common with small kids. Their emotional maturity is often just not high enough to understand they are hurting people, and their choices of objects of straight forward affection or excitement are usually predicated on what's fun, who's less strict and similar. It's quite common to have kids tell you they don't love you as much as someone else who might not even be from the family, or that they would want a different father/mother. While this can be more or less hurtful based on how sensitive to it the parent is, it's not something that can easily be fixed.

The good news is that it does normally go away as they start maturing mentally and emotionally. They start to understand more what their own parents mean and why they are important, as well as forming an actual deeper bond with them, through lived experience and a better understanding of what their parents mean to them. They also get further socialized, which lets them better understand the effect their actions and words have on others and lets them self regulate.

The love of children to their parents also changes profoundly throughout their lives. It's different when they are 2, 7, 10, 15, 20 or 30. And that's even assuming there have been little change on the part of the parent.

I mean chances are there will always be someone they are happier to see in the moment than their parent. Because they see their parents all the time and if the parents are good they are never as fun as other people. Parents have to raise the kids, which means they often have to be the bad guys. But love of children to parents isn't about always rushing to greet them because they are so looking forward to seeing them. It's about trust, being comfortable with them, and wanting them to be happy.

ps.: Also your kids will never love you the way you love them and they shouldn't. It wouldn't be healthy. A parent mostly loves their child unconditionally, no matter what happens and even if for some reason they have to sever their ties to the person the child becomes they often still love the child they used to be. The loss of a child is one of the most traumatic experiences preceded only by the loss of a spouse and that's changing these days as people have fewer children. On the other hand the loss of a parent is something most people have to take pretty much in their stride. It's something that hopefully will happen in everyone's life.

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    I think DRF is both right (emotional maturity) and wrong (hurting). The parent is the one who is hurting because the parent is measuring himself against others. It is POSSIBLE that the children are intentionally dismissing their parent, but its more likely that they haven't seen a rewarding response often enough to make it worthwhile. OR they may associate the parent with (harsh) discipline or rejection. Who wants to run to the arms of a person who disapproves, rejects or shrinks away? Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 18:56
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    "but its more likely that they haven't seen a rewarding response often enough to make it worthwhile" This coincidentally happens with couples too. At first I went out of my way to do certain things and my girlfriend didn't seem to notice or care so after a while I stopped doing them. And then she asked me why I never did those things anymore and I told her because it seemed like she didn't care but apparently she did.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 20:09
  • @SteventheEasilyAmused While that case can not be dismissed completely it is very very unlikely. Most parents I know are happy to see the kids respond positively and do fun things with them. BUT they also must do things which are not fun including enforcing and explaining discipline, teaching and setting boundaries. In reality the fact that kids ignore a parent is in can be a good sign, because it generally means they are sure of him. They know he is there for them and they are not afraid they need to please him all the time.
    – DRF
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 20:14

Just to add to the other answers, I think that dads can sometimes struggle to show their emotions whatever they are. It's quite a common trait of character amongst men.

A child's understanding is initially based on emotions and evolves gradually to a more rational type as their cortex develop. If as a dad you don't make the effort to communicate on a emotional level with kids they miss a lot of who you truly are.

I am quite a shy introvert type, but with my daughter I try to show her my feelings as much as I can so she feels connected. No matter if it involves taking me away from my comfort zone.

Of course, there are other factors and I believe the argument of the other adults being exciting as opposed to the parents being comfortable is a strong one.

Whatever the outcome, keep trying!

  • I don't think this is about emotions at all... unless you mean the father is not showing loving kindness... kids spot lack of concern/engagement more readily than most people would suspect. Childhood play is explorative, silly, repetitive, energetic, and expressive. To engage children, you have to be LIKE a child - and that might be hard for some people. My daughter wanted to re-enact Sleeping Beauty so often that it was boring me ... but I engaged her anyway and made it fun. Once I said "can I be sleeping beauty this time?" to which she reluctantly agreed but only ONCE! Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 19:09
  • @SteventheEasilyAmused I think most dads show loving kindness in their way, just discussing the last bit, in their way. Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 23:11
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    That's a very good point. People have different love languages, including children. For some it's affection (physical touch), (quality) time, gifts, acts of sacrifice, and for others praise (words of affirmation). An astute parent will determine which pattern(s) the children (and the spouse) respond to most strongly and speak that language frequently - even if it's not YOUR preferred love language. A corollary is that people have different learning styles. My style and my daughters were completely opposite and until I realized it, I was a poor teacher to her. Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 23:32

Are you excited to see them?

When you greet them, do you show excitement? Are you teaching them how fun it is greeting eachother by exlaiming eachothers names, spreading your arms wide and going in for the hug?

If you don't set the example, you can't expect them to figure it all out for themselves :)


They are not excited to see you because you are not entertaining them .

And your children are probably seeing you like a person who do same kind things daily and that's why they are not excited to see you.

So all you have to do is to change yourself and give yourself some daily new task like playing outdoor games etc.. :)

  • Not sure why this was downvoted, it seems essentially correct to me even if harshly worded. If anything, I'd argue that being a "robot" (meaning one who behaves in the same predictable pattern) is a plus if that pattern is engaging, encouraging and exciting to a child. Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 23:46
  • @SteventheEasilyAmused.., I replace this word with person
    – user43070
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 3:49

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