"I don't love you, Mommy." Does my little one mean it?


Last night was hard for me. When I put my almost 3-year-old to sleep, kissed her good night and told her I loved her, she said she did not love me back, that she loves Daddy. Then she said, "Daddy is my friend. You are not my friend." I guess she was mad at me from a prior event, but boy was this tough to hear. What's your take on this? I think she sees me as the rule maker in the house and her Dad as the fun one? Not sure what to think!


It is exactly what you said:  She was mad and shared her anger in a 3-year-old's way. When your little ones say they hate you or no longer love you, speak directly to the emotion they are expressing. Using your example, you can say something like "we had a hard, day today, and you're still mad at mommy. But remember even when we are mad with each other we still love one another." Depending on their personality, the child will agree or deny loving you in the moment, but ignore that message. Your little one is still getting used to being the big sister and her choice of Daddy is more about that than anything else. Most children in their age group need and love their parents no matter what. Even the child that suffers from physical abuse needs and loves their abusive parent. Children of all ages rarely lose that need and love.