Why Children Are Jealous Of Their Parent’s Relationship

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child jealous of parents relationship

Imagine that you’re having a great family night at home, and you or your partner leans over to kiss the other.

It’s the perfect moment, right?

Except for some reason, your child starts to cry. They start freaking out, and the whole atmosphere and the vibe shift.

Does this sound familiar?

It’s not uncommon for children to be jealous of their parent’s relationship. It may be frustrating, especially because your child can’t explain why they are feeling that way. But there is likely an underlying cause behind the attention-seeking behavior.

Once you understand the why behind the behavior, you can work to change it.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why children are jealous of their parent’s relationship.

I’ll include some tips on what you can do to address these behaviors when it happens.

With time and patience, your children will learn not to be jealous of your relationship.

Why Children Are Jealous Of Their Parent's Relationship

3 Main Reasons Why Your Child Is Jealous Of Your Relationship

girl standing in front of parents with arms crossed

Being a parent is tough, and it sometimes harms your relationship.

If your relationship remains strong (good for you), but your son or daughter is showing signs of jealously, there are 3 reasons you should consider.

Here they are:


They are more attached to one parent

little girl attached to mom wearing us flag

Is one parent home more?

Does one parent interact more with the child?

It could simply be that your child is more attached to one parent than the other.

Because of it, they don’t like when the parent shows any attention or affection towards another.

It doesn’t matter who it is; the child believes that all affection should be reserved only for them.

It should be the same when they are alone with just them and the preferred parent.

When there are other people around, this can lead to jealousy. This could express itself in different ways.

Such as:

  • Crying
  • Yelling
  • Destruction
  • or any number of attention-seeking behaviors.

How to address this with your child

Take a look and try to understand which parent your child is more attached to, and you will want to approach it two different ways.

For example, if the child is attached to the mother, the mother will want to talk to the child and explain that they can love more than one person.

The love that you feel for your partner is different than the love you feel for your child.

After all, love is not a finite resource!

It grows and expands over time.

Next, you want to try to strengthen the attachment to the other parent. Using the same example, if the father works out of the home and is not around as much, he must make an effort to spend more time alone with the child.

Have a daddy and me day where you go out and do fun things.

Play games or interact with your child at home – it doesn’t matter what you do, just that you do it.

To keep in mind is to be sure not to overcompensate and only become the “fun” parent. This will lead to other behavioral issues.


Your child feels neglected or left behind.

little girl talking mom not listening

Children act out in all sorts of ways when they want attention.

Being jealous of their parent’s relationship is another way they can express this attention-seeking behavior.

Even if your child is not neglected, they feel it, which is causing them to act out.

And it’s not just when you show affection to your partner; it also happens with any friend, family member, or a new partner.

Your child feels that because you are showing another attention, that somehow means they are getting less. They may also feel that you forget about them.

Jealously could show when you have a new baby, for instance. Or it could happen when you show an older sibling more attention.

How to address this with your child

No child can get attention all the time. It’s unsustainable, so this jealousy and attention-seeking behavior is completely normal.

It’s part of normal child development, so you mustn’t give in to your child.

You want to explain to them again how much you love them and how just because you are giving attention to another, that does not mean you do not love them.

Do not adapt your behaviors around your child because they will learn all they need to do is make a scene to get what they want.


Their parent’s relationship grosses them out.

mom and dad kissing

Children often think members of the opposite sex are gross – they have cooties after all!

So if your child is acting jealous, they could just be trying to get you to stop because you are grossing them out.

Girls and boys aren’t supposed to like each other!


How to address this with your child

Again, this is completely normal. While jealousy is an unusual way to express their feelings, they may not understand asking for what they want.

They might want you to stop embarrassing them with your affection, even if it is not directed towards them.

Much like before, do not adapt your behaviors to account for how your child is feeling.

When they are older, they will appreciate that you modeled a healthy and happy relationship for them from a young age.

It is a parent’s right to embarrass their children, and liking each other too much will probably be the least of their worries when they get older.


Conclusion

Ultimately, our children want to feel loved and valued by their parents. If they act jealous, they likely feel a certain way, and they don’t know how to say it.

If there is a big change in their life, like you’ve moved or gotten a new partner or there was a death in the family, consider how that impacts their behavior.

While we don’t want our children to dictate our behaviors, and we should not stop showing affection toward each other, being in a loving relationship will ultimately benefit your kids.

It is critical to be sensitive to how our children feel and talk to them.

Be patient.

They may not know how to express what they need from you. You may have to read between the lines.

In time, with consistent behaviors, your child should get over their jealous attachment issues.

Just because your child is not securely attached to you doesn’t mean that they won’t be. You have to put in the work to make them understand that both parents love them.

Showing affection toward each other does not take away from the love each of you has for your children.

Jealousy is a common emotion that children go through, so you might need to ride it out.

Good luck!

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