Skip to main content

Stock photo

Rikard Stadler/iStockphoto

Move over, moms. Your babies have replaced you as your partner's No. 1.

Most new mothers are thrilled to see their partners fall head over heels for their children. But as CNN's Shanon Cook discovered, that sense of elation can be complicated by another unexpected, and certainly taboo, feeling: jealousy.

Ms. Cook says she bristled when she realized her husband wasn't referring to her when he used the term, "sweetie." He was talking to their newborn.

Story continues below advertisement

"Well this is new, I thought. After 10 years of being my husband's No. 1 gal, he's now trying out my special nickname on our daughter," Ms. Cook wrote. "And what's that uncomfortable sensation in my chest? That slight pang followed by a dull ache. Heartburn? No. Could it be … jealousy?"

Indeed, experts said, it was.

Psychology professor Gerrod Parrott of Georgetown University told her: "It's a completely normal reaction."

"Romantic love and parental love are overlapping systems," Dr. Parrott said. "… Infants in particular receive types of physical attention that overlaps with romantic interactions and for that reason are usually withdrawn later in childhood." (Parental cuddling and kisses aren't sexual, he explained, but they are intimate.)

Psychologist Jenn Berman added that fathers are usually the ones complaining of feeling left out. But she noted that many women likely share Ms. Cook's pangs of jealousy, and are just afraid to voice them. "As women we are raised in this society to be selfless and to be givers," she said.

It appears some of Ms. Cook's readers can relate.

"I am currently going through the EXACT situation," one commenter wrote. "I feel like our baby is coming between our marriage. I resent her for it. I cry almost everyday about it because I feel like a terrible mother."

Story continues below advertisement

"If we're honest, a little bit of this is normal and happens to all parents," another commenter said.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, a large number of readers balked, calling the writer "selfish," "self-absorbed" and in need of psychological help.

What's your take? Parents, have you ever felt jealous of your children?

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to