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toddler won't tolerate parental pda

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I've tried to search for threads about this to no avail. I can't imagine we're the only ones having this problem.

My 20 month old will not let my husband and I hug, kiss, or be affectionate at all. He either starts crying or he comes over to break us up. We would go to another room, but he doesn't like being left alone. Sometimes it works to include him, but other times he just wants to separate us.

I haven't a clue what to do. My husband and I don't have very many opportunities to be affectionate because even when he's asleep he wants to be touching me and if I move he wakes up.

Seriously, what can I do? This is having a pretty negative affect on my marriage. I regularly have nightmares that my husband leaves me and I think our lack of affection (dictated by my toddler) is a huge part of the problem.
post #2 of 19
My daughter went through a phase like that and it was not fun. After a little while (maybe a week or two) we'd just continue hugging while she cried. Then when we were done, we'd both give her a hug or kiss. Maybe not the best AP way, but that's life.
post #3 of 19
Our DD went through this from about 10 months until at least 2.5 years.

DH and I didn't want to let her jealousy get in the way of our affection for each other, but we did want to make sure her feelings got acknowledged. We said "Oh honey, you feel jealous when Mommy and Daddy give each other love. You feel left out and you want Mommy all to yourself."

We tried bringing her into the hug, but she would just angrily push Daddy away. We explained that Mommy and Daddy love each other and need to hug and kiss just like we need to hug and kiss her. And I would assure her that I would give her love right after I was done loving Daddy. This seemed to help. These explanations did not always make her stop fussing right away, but we felt confident knowing that we acknowledged and described her feelings. Gradually, she began saying "I feel jealous!" instead of crying.

She doesn't get upset about this anymore, but that might be because DH and I don't hug so much anymore with my enormous pregnant belly in the way. But I'm sure glad she knows how to talk about jealousy, because she's about to be a big sister for the first time, and those feelings are going to need to be talked about!
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dianakaye View Post
Seriously, what can I do? This is having a pretty negative affect on my marriage. I regularly have nightmares that my husband leaves me and I think our lack of affection (dictated by my toddler) is a huge part of the problem.
WHY?

WHY is this having such a negative affect on your marriage?

is it because it is your issue? WHY are you having nightmares? that does not make sense.

you can show affection other times too. not just round your toddler. even with your toddler asleep with him touching you, you could hug and cuddle with dh.

when your ds is deep in play you and dh can quickly go into the next room for a little cuddle and hug.

does your dh feel the same way?

just this little piece cannot create big trouble in marriage. there has to be other things going on and this might be the last straw.

i am not looking for an answer here. i dont need you to reply to this thread. instead i want you to think why this is so big for you.

this is part of being a parent that you work thru. this should not give you nightmares.
post #5 of 19
It's a normal phase for a lot of kids, I think. My DD eventually got over it. She's 3.5 now and if she sees us hugging she wants in but it's been a long time since she would freak out or try to separate us.

I really would try to relax about it. Have you talked with your husband about your nightmares? I know that these things feel like they will last forever but DS will get over it. Sounds like you may be concerned about a general lack of intimate time. If that's the case (also normal with small kiddos!) then can you get a sitter or something every so often so you guys can get out alone? That might help.
post #6 of 19
Our third child (19months) does this and we think it is hilarious. We intentionally hug in front of her and watch the sequence of events unfold. She is such a quirky girl. "NO NO NO!!!" then runs over as fast as she can and pushes us apart. We usually try to give her a "family hug" but she pushes dad away every time

I think it must be hard if this is your first because it is hard to see it as a phase and it is tempting to feel like you can fix the behavior somehow or that you are somehow to blame for it. You are also closer to the era before kids when you used to have time for your husband and it can be really hard to adjust to the new reality. After a couple years in the new reality my husband and I got a much more functional rhythm going and things settled down. It will get better!!!
post #7 of 19
mine both went through this phase, about the same age as the OP and it was VERY brief. we are/were (we are separated now, lol...so maybe you don't want my advice )

anyway, we are/were a funny, non-over explaining, and 'this is life' type of family, and we did not indulge the childrens' issue. I was big into continuum concept and it was part of our life and they needed to accept it. we included them a lot, but i would hold on tighter or kiss my husband longer if the child was fussing. then we would laugh and gobble the kiddo up.
post #8 of 19
DD gets jealous too (she's nearly two and a half). She usually runs up and hugs our legs, at which point we pick her up and hug her between us. The other day she ran up and shouted in a very stern voice "Don't! Hug! Mummy!".

It's funny now, but I vaguely recall it being more frustrating when she was smaller. Especially at night, when she'd freak out if I turned over to snuggle DH instead of snuggling her. That was just a clinginess thing; I don't think she cared I was snuggling him, just that I was ignoring her; but it was frustrating and DH did feel a bit unloved for a while. Now she often hops over us and squeezes between us in the morning, but it's funny rather than annoying now that she's generally more independent and we have more time to hug!

So... this too will pass? I wonder what would happen if your DH pretended to be jealous when you were holding the baby and insisted on joining in too? Maybe that would accustom the baby to family hugs? I remember DH occasionally used the stern "I am hugging Mummy now, deal with it" line on DD, but I don't think it helped...
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dianakaye View Post
My 20 month old will not let my husband and I hug, kiss, or be affectionate at all. He either starts crying or he comes over to break us up.
There's no reason for a 20 month old to be calling the shots.

I think you should treat this like a discipline issue. If he cried for cookie would you give him a cookie? If he cried because you told him "no" about a toy he wanted in a store would you buy him the toy?

This can be a tough transition for many AP moms -- when our babies cry we need to sooth them, but when our toddlers cry sometimes they just need to get over it. Some of the moms with kids close to the age had creative and playful ideas for helping move past this.
post #10 of 19
DS does the same thing (he's 18mos) -- Usually we just scoop him up & have him join in a hug or kisses with us. It doesn't really do the trick 100% but I guess we want him to understand that we all love each other & this is how we show our affection in our family. He actually doesn't like anyone touching me at all. He cries when we go to the doctor or dentist (even though I'm holding him the whole time) because he doesn't want them to touch me.

It is a bit of a strain to not feel free to be physically affectionate with DH. We don't actively avoid PDA but we just don't feel fully free to express ourselves. I guess it's a balance between not stressing out DS excessively but still being able to hug/kiss/etc. each other. We do try to cuddle etc. after DS goes to sleep but he goes to bed so late that often DH is already asleep by then. We've actually gone days without any physical contact, it's pretty sad...
post #11 of 19
Another one with jealous kiddos. My DD won't let me give my husband, her older brother, even our rats! any affection at all. It drives her nuts.

My DS went through it too. We would just giggle and get our kisses done fast and then scoop him up for a family hug. DD doesn't like this so much and tries to push daddy away and then immediately asks to nurse.

Honestly, we just laugh about it and figure it will pass and/or she'll figure out that she can't have me all to herself. If it's really causing you that much anxiety, I really wonder about other things going on with your marriage and your own mental health. Please take care of yourself, mama.
post #12 of 19
Yeah, sympathize and name their feelings (jealousy initially and frustration when you don't do what he wants), but don't let it stop you from being affectionate. Look at this as a teaching moment, your child can't have you to himself all the time and he also can't always have what he wants, at least not immediately, and he needs to learn how to deal with that. Not in a harsh "DEAL WITH IT!" way, but in a loving way as other PPs eloquently suggested.
post #13 of 19
If "being affectionate" is code, let me address that - we do a lot of "being affectionate" at odd times and places - drop the kids at grandma's so we can go see a movie and rush home and "affection" each other... he'll sneak home from work at naptime, etc.

I thought it would hurt our "affection" relationship but it's helped! It's like high school, sneaking around, and very naughty.

Our daughter co-sleeps and being affectionate with her in the bed creeps us both out, so we came up with these tactics. In fact, I'm preggo with #3 and we think he/she was conceived at 2 am in a field behind DBF"s parents house in the bed of his pickup. (we were on our way home from a movie, inlaws had the kids .. woohoo!)

Don't stop hugging and kissing in front of DD, but for the more intimate situations, get creative! I know DTD with a toddler touching you isnt very romantic, so think outside the bedroom!

ETA - if you werent talking about DTD, I'm sorry! oops - I'm really embarrassed LOL
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
There's no reason for a 20 month old to be calling the shots.
I agree, but I'm also a bit more no nonsense than many MDC mamas. I'm sorry, but no one else gets to place a claim on who I hug. That's just not okay. Now, sometimes DS would want to be included, and we would hug him, too. DD has never cared. I cannot imagine actually avoiding hugging my spouse because my toddler wanted me to.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
I agree, but I'm also a bit more no nonsense than many MDC mamas. I'm sorry, but no one else gets to place a claim on who I hug. That's just not okay. Now, sometimes DS would want to be included, and we would hug him, too. DD has never cared. I cannot imagine actually avoiding hugging my spouse because my toddler wanted me to.
I can't speak for the OP but for us it's not so much that we intentionally avoid it -- it's just that those affectionate moments are just strained & less enjoyable etc. because there is a screaming angry kid at your feet. And since the moments are less enjoyable they are sometimes less frequent as well. However DH & I still have a great relationship & I do feel concerned for the OP if this is causing THAT much stress in your marriage. Honestly although it's annoying etc. we also kind of laugh about it (not laugh in DS's face of course, I just mean 'laugh it off')... Also we are able to hug/cuddle in bed after DS falls asleep (if DH is still awake), I just keep something (my arm, my back, a leg, whatever) touching DS as well so he doesn't wake. Of course that's only if we're not attempting to be more intimate -- and if that's what you're talking about (as a pp mentioned) then that sure is more of a challenge (I remember getting VERY angry one day not too long ago because we hadn't DTD in over a month and DS would. not. stay. asleep. long enough for us to sneak out of the room)...
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post
it's just that those affectionate moments are just strained & less enjoyable etc. because there is a screaming angry kid at your feet.
I think there is a huge difference between saying "there is a screaming and angry kid at my feet" and my toddler "won't let my husband and I kiss." Huge difference.
post #17 of 19
DS1 went through a stage of doing this. I'm pretty sure that after a little while I would just say that I was cuddling Daddy right now and that I loved Daddy too and Mummy and Daddy needed cuddles with each other as well (possibly not quite as wordy!). No way would I let him call the shots over this. Now he will often run up and say 'family cuddle!!' when we're hugging or kissing. DH and I hug and kiss alot so I don't think that either the boys really register it much any more.
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
There's no reason for a 20 month old to be calling the shots.

I think you should treat this like a discipline issue. If he cried for cookie would you give him a cookie? If he cried because you told him "no" about a toy he wanted in a store would you buy him the toy?

This can be a tough transition for many AP moms -- when our babies cry we need to sooth them, but when our toddlers cry sometimes they just need to get over it. Some of the moms with kids close to the age had creative and playful ideas for helping move past this.
I totally agree. You should not let your toddler dictate your behavior with your husband.
post #19 of 19
I don't see any need to go to another room--and certainly not to abstain from being affectionate with each other. My daughter (now 3.5) used to fuss and try to pull my husband and I apart if we hugged, et cetera (she was <2 at the time). We didn't really "do" anything about it, and she quickly outgrew it--in fact, I'd forgotten about that phase until I saw this thread.

I look at it the same way I would if one of my children got jealous when I hugged/kissed/snuggled one of my other kids--while I would acknowledge my child's feelings, I wouldn't think of being any less affectionate with one child to accommodate the other.

It's developmentally appropriate for your son to think he is the "center" of your existence (specifically, and the world, more generally), but it's also appropriate for him to gradually learn otherwise over the course of his childhood. Think of this as an early step toward that understanding.

ETA: We occasionally still have to remind our 3.5-and-5.5-year-olds of our need to have *some* time together without them. At our house, the big kids go to sleep in their own bed (or beds--they can choose to share a bed or sleep alone; they share a room), and can come get in bed with us in the morning (the baby still sleeps with us full-time). It doesn't mean that one of us never goes into lay down with a child who is having a particularly hard time falling asleep or whatever, but in general, that is our rule, and if one of them is coming into our bedroom, we remind them that this is our time to spend together and that they need to go back to bed. They don't seem to have a hard time "getting" this, and while it is occasionally inconvenient for them, I think they're actually glad to know we are "friends." They also like to see us be (appropriately) affectionate now--this morning my husband hugged my daughter and headed for the door, and she said, "Dad! Are you going to hug mom before you go to work?!"
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