I’m not the fun parent and I’m okay with that

When Margs was approximately 6 months old it became really clear that Mer was becoming her “fun parent”. At first, my big green monster reared its ugly head and I got really jealous and resentful that my precious little girl (that I gestated horizontally for so so long) appeared to show a clear preference for her father. I cried, a lot. Seriously, far more times than I’m even comfortable admitting at this point. Selfishly, I believed that she’d somehow know what sacrifice I’d made to get her here safely and prefer me by default (totally minimizing Mer’s suffering- because he suffered too. My grief was so very selfish and I plan to write about that one day). Clearly, she loves me dearly but as she gets older and develops more autonomy it’s pretty clear Mer is still the fun parent.

And you know what guys, I’m totally okay with that.

As Mer and I navigate this parenting thing we’re realizing pretty quickly that our roles are very different. Mer is the fun parent while I’m the authority figure setting boundaries and creating consistency and routines in her life.

Why? I’m with her the majority of the time since I’m her primary care giver because we decided that Mer would work full time (makes sense financially) and I’d stay at home with her until she’s at least school aged.

If Mer were the stay at home parent I imagine the roles would be reversed. Her “preference” by consequence has no bearing on whether one of us is genuinely more “fun” than the other but rather by our different “presence” in her life.

Mer’s experiences with Margs are far  far different than mine. He spends 10-12 hours per day outside our home fixing and geeking out over complicated computer problems. During this time I’m parenting a strong willed little one who most recently became extremely mobile, curious and creative so I’m often trying to make sure she doesn’t manage to evade me and walk over to the kitchen, pull out the trash and feed that shit to our dog.

When he arrives home in the evening he’s had the time to “miss” her in ways that I’ve really never experienced since he gets a physical detachment from her every single work day. Naturally, she’s super excited to see her dad who is most likely more excited to see her than she’ll ever know – and you know what, it shows in the way they interact. That excitement builds and the house immediately fills with loud baby giggles and squeals. Squeals and giggles that I have to work really really really hard to achieve during the day since for the most part I’m chasing her around saying things like “no, don’t touch that”, “be careful that’s gonna make you boo boo”, “don’t put –insert disgusting thing here– in your mouth” and “woah, slow down so mommy can catch up”.

Not being the fun parent means that I’ve got a huge responsibility – it’s  my job to create rules and boundaries around here that will hopefully create a sense of independence and self-responsibility in my little girl. By virtue of me being her primary caregiver, I’m responsible for shaping this tiny human into a kind and gentle soul who I hope grows up to do great things and find enormous happiness on her journey into adulthood. This is not to say that Mer is completely removed from this experience – we’re very much on the same page when it comes to our parenting style but, he takes a more passive role because he’s just not here enough to follow through on any of it. Sure, he steps up big time on the weekend where his fun parent role temporarily takes the back burner while I’m out running errands and he’s home alone with her but the majority of the time I’m just not her fun parent.

And, I’m totally okay with it.

I’m honored to have the privilege of not being the fun parent. I’m grateful to be responsible for her physical and emotional growth. I’m indebted to the universe for giving me the chance to parent this amazingly clever, darling and determined little girl who I love beyond words.

Not being the fun parent is actually pretty damn wonderful.

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Is there a fun parent in your household?






  1. I am the mom and my fiancé is the fun parent. It’s hard for me to except since we have been together this time(funny story for another time perhaps) for about a year and a half. So I’m trying to get over it, but it’s hard!!

    1. It is hard. What really helped me was coming to terms with the fact that although she loves me – she needs me in different ways than she does her dad.

  2. Definitely familiar with this. My husband holds preference for the same reasons, mommy is the strict one lol. But looking back at my own childhood it was the same way, and I always credit my mother for raising me to be the woman I am regardless of both parents being there. I think later down the road they learn to appreciate this, at least that’s what has helped me accept it til now lol

  3. It’s funny but methinks you protest a little too much: it has to irk sometimes when your child seemingly lights up when her fun dad arrives home, and you, the sensible one, the no-sayer, as it were, are kind of dropped. Sometimes. And that’s normal, I reckon. Logically, we know the reasons why, and even the fact she feels safe in your holding is what leaves her free to express her delight in her fun dad’s antics, but who wouldn’t want to see their child light up at their very arrival or novel presence? I’m slightly in the reverse in our household in that I am at home and my wife works full-time. Myself and our newly teenage daughter have had some testing times recently, and I know if she only saw me for a few hours every evening, she and me both would have a far more fun time of things! C’est la vie!

    1. Agreed. It was really hard to see at first but as she ages it’s becoming clear that she needs us in very different ways. You’re absolutely right, c’est la vie!

  4. For a little while I got to be the caregiver and the fun parent because my daughter was getting attached to me and even when her dad wanted to play with her so I could cook, or pee alone she would cry. But I think we finally squashed that by just not stepping in for a night to calm her down, I let my husband do his thing while she glared at me for not coming to her rescue. After that he is starting to emerge as the more fun parent. She is genuinely excited when he comes home and a little disappointed when he leaves and I LOVE IT! I want and need them to have a strong bond so she can be the Daddy’s girl I envisioned. I don’t want to ever be scared that she is wanting me when I’m not there and he is.

  5. I think you will find that as your child grows, your rolls in her life will change all the time. I have 3 kids, 2 adults and 1 still in the home. As they grew, their personalities changed and evolved and sometimes they enjoyed me more than Dad and vis-versa. It’s not always going to be this way. My middle child was premature and after all I went through to even have her alive, it was hard to see her so bonded and attached to her Daddy. But as she grew into a young woman, it was me she sought after for comfort and advice. It was embarrassing to talk to her Dad about certain things and we bonded more when she was older. 🙂 I think you’ll find that labeling yourself is only going to bring you expectations you can’t live with. Just enjoy the ride! It goes by so quickly!

  6. I am so curious to see how this plays out in our house with baby arrives this summer. We will both be home for 3-4 months solid at the start while I am on maternity leave, then I will go back to work leaving hubby with the kiddo at home.

    1. We really started to see the “preference” start around 6 months at which point my husband had gone back to work. I think it’s just a natural thing to miss the parent that is away at work thus becoming the “fun” one ya know?

  7. I’ve gotta be the fun parent and the mean one too. And that’s something that I’m becoming okay with. I always thought my boy would be missing out on not having a father (his choice not mine) and in the 8 months he’s been in the world I am happy to do everything for him and come to accept that some men weren’t made to be fathers and some women were just made to be both a mum and a dad. Will have my work cut out for me when he’s a bit older though 😂 x

  8. So glad you wrote about this. . . .It’s the same in our house. And while I understand the reasons (the same as yours), there are times it still bothers me. My oldest is 8 now and she spends her week longing for the weekend because that’s when she’ll get to have fun with Daddy. While on some level she understands that I can’t always be fun because my job is being home and taking care of things at home, it makes me the boring and not fun parent. I hope some day she can appreciate my “work” and grasp that I’m not trying to be boring. I’m hoping as the girls grow older, this can shift as they are able to help more around the house and our definitions of “fun” become similar.

  9. It has just began in our household. Little Man is 6 months. Mixed feelings. Love seeing my husband beam (but so envy seeing Little Man smile and proper giggle for him). All my attempts to be fun and cool are recieved with a blank face ( my skills are clearly wasted on my 6 month old haha)

  10. I took care of my three younger siblings, especially the last child. He likes me the least and loves our mom who was hardly home the most. It was painful because I did so much for him bur eventually I understood that it wasn’t my fault or his.

  11. My husband, too, is more of the “fun” parent — and I love seeing them play together! But, I like my role, too, being the “rule setter” in her life. A is now almost 2yo and I get really great comments from people on the streets, family and friends as to how she’s well-raised. Also, around this age, she longs more for my cuddles and that, I treasure so so so so much!

    And oh, don’t mind if she learns to say papa or dad first. 🙂

  12. I guess I’m the “fun” parent because I’m the one that goes to work for 10-12 hours per day, so I mostly see the kids evenings and weekends. My husband is the one home all day with the one year old, and with the older kids when they’re home from school. The little one is always so happy to see me when I get home from work, and he wants me to pick him up and do things together. Although it comes with a downside-when the little guy gets hurt, upset, or is feeling tired, he always wants my husband to hold him. That makes me feel sad, although I try not to let it hurt me too much. I understand that since my husband’s the one at home all day, naturally he’s the one my little guy wants. But it can still make me feel bad when he wants to be comforted but not by me.

  13. Great perspective! We flip flop on these roles (even though I’m home), and often I still get annoyed when daddy is preferred due to all my hard work — you’ve evolved!! 😉

  14. I think when I was younger my house was almost the same. Mom was more protective and disciplinary. She worried, she laid down rules, so dad conversely ended up being the “fun” parent. Looking back now that I’m older though I can see that they level out in the best ways possible. It took leaving home to look back and realize how awesome my parents were and I’m sure your little one will look back and appreciate both of you!!

  15. I’m the mean parent, my husband is the fun one. But my boys are 17 and 19 and it hasn’t changed.
    Sometimes, I’m a bit resentful. Just sometimes, I feel the fun parent is opting out of the daily nagging, the rules and the instructions. When he doesn’t do it, it leaves only one option…me. So although we have discussed it, my husband is just not as organised, or as in touch… so I guess this is where we are.
    Ensure your husband understands. Make sure it doesn’t progress to where you’re the ONLY one doing the rules/instructions ever. There does need to be an authority with the man in the house. It’s important for when the problems are a little larger than one person, and you need backup.
    Good luck with your little precious! 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing. My husband is pretty good about chipping in with the daily nagging and rule setting but like I said in my post he’s just not here enough to be the primary “nagger”.

  16. My dad was always my fun parent too. I love my mom, don’t get me wrong, but dad’s always been the fun one. My dad let me get away with more stuff as a kid than he really should have, but he did it because he trusted me. And he trusted me because of the boundaries my mom raised me with. The problem now is that many households only have a fun parent, or maybe even two fun parents and no authority figure. This can cause major problems. You’re absolutely right though, it’s great to not be the fun parent too. You get to be her structure and her model for life, and what’s a greater accomplishment than that?! Encourage Mer to be great in his “fun” role, and hopefully he encourages you and has your back as well. A home like that raises great human beings. We need more of those!

  17. It’s a big thing to admit but it needs to be said a bit more. Neither parent needs to resent each other for the particular role they are playing. It’s supposed to be a balance although I understand both sides of the fence when the discontentment sets in but it sounds like its going well

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the follow!

      It is hard to admit and you’re right it should be discussed more. Staying at home with a kiddo isn’t all puppies and rainbows. I gave up a career that I worked really hard to establish to mind her which I’m okay with most days. But, resentment does build when you see what you’ve given up and the fact that your own kid prefers to play with her dad ya know?

      1. I understand that very well. It often seems that mothers have to be the more responsible day to day and fathers do the fun stuff on weekends and evenings even if she works outside the house and it’s hard not to resent that if they are off having fun and you are using the spare time to clean the house or whatever, your spare time is not yours even then and he is the one who gets to the one to do fun things with and handles less daily problems. It takes a long time to get out of that and start working on that balance of feelings in the situation

        1. Absolutely! My situation is complicated by the fact that I feel enormous mom guilt for not always loving being home. Margs is a miracle – I suffered a twin still birth and 3 other losses before we were blessed to have her. All that grief coupled with the hardships of parenting are difficult to navigate sometimes.

  18. We don’t have this setup in our house, but I think a lot of that is because we both work. I can definitely see how this might take place if we didn’t. We seem to take turns being the fun one & the one enforcing boundaries. It works for us though, and I definitely see how that makes more sense for you guys!

    Growing up, my dad was the fun one and my mom was at home with me. I love her dearly to this day and have a great relationship with both (I think I turned out okay too haha!)

    1. Our situation is absolutely created by circumstance. I imagine that if we were in your situation it would probably be very similar. Thank you for stoppingby Alyssa and for taking the time to share!

  19. My partner and I aren’t parents yet, but I know in my house growing up, Dad was the fun one and Mum was the one who kept things running at home (also while working full time). She was viewed as the stricter of the two on a regular basis, but both of them played an equal role in setting our boundaries and discipline though – they really had each others backs on that. So we never really saw Dad as the “pushover” that fun parents are commonly viewed as.
    In the end, I think it had more to do with his personality than his parenting style and responsibilities.

  20. I struggle with this too. I’m not the fun parent. My baby just turned one but I can’t help get a little jealous with how excited he is when his daddy walks through the door and I only get the whining when he’s hungry. I really appreciated this view. Thank you!

  21. This is totally me. I’m home all day with my son and find myself not being nearly as fun as Dad. Sometimes I feel guilty about that and try to sprinkle a little more ‘fun’ throughout our days. Great post mama!

  22. Yes! It is so tough to not be the ‘fun’ parent, but you are exactly right when you say they need us in a different way. I am totally okay with it too, because I am the one setting the boundaries…which are so important! Such a great and wonderful post!

  23. As a single parent, I often have to fulfill the roles of both. The most important take away from all of this is that our kids love us no matter what type of parent we are! Loved this post.

  24. I totally understand the initial feelings of jealousy. When our first was born, that part really took me by surprise. Most of the time he is the fun parent but the roles do reverse sometimes for us. I enjoy all of it though!

  25. This is super insightful! I’m glad that you came to a realization that being the ‘fun’ parent is not all that matters. I’m not a parent yet, but my husband and I have been doing a lot of thinking about how we’ll split our time between work and raising our kids. If everything goes as planned, I hope we’ll both have an equal opportunity to be the authoritative and fun parents.

  26. I’m so with you and I think many of us moms are in the same boat. I am more than ok with it. My dad wasn’t a fun dad at all, so I appreciate that my husband has that quality.

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