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Family Story Time


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Author Topic: Family Story Time
momof1+2
Member posted 08-27-2001 06:06 AM
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Here is my situation...I think I know what I am going to say but I thought I would get some opinions. My family just moved to Indy this summer and I know that 4 yo ds is having a semi-hard time, except that I am now a SAHM and that is helping. One thing that is happening is that he is "re-attaching" so strongly with me, that he is sometimes excluding dad. At first we were understanding of this, but now he is saying DAD can't be a part of story time. We have always read stories together on the couch before bed as a family. I really don't know about this. He will say "I want to be alone with my mommy." The first night, we decided not to make a big deal about it, but then he said it again last night too. Our thinking is that, he wouldn't be allowed to exclude dad from the dinner table....and we see story time as family time. I would always allow him special time other times, but it really is as if he is trying to exclude dad for some reason.


heartmama
Member posted 08-27-2001 08:00 AM
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This is totally normal. Normal, normal, normal. Don't worry!
I don't think it is right to give in to this kind of demand, because it is simply unfair. In life it is unfair to demand someone else sacrafice for our own moodiness towards them. If we don't like them we need to be the one who leaves.

However, a child won't understand that if you just say it. Because the child's feelings are very real to them, and they are just being honest in what they are expressing, I think it is wrong and ultimately futile to *tell* them they are unfair or to tell them "Daddy is allowed to be here as much as you are and you can't ask him to leave." No child will have a change of heart because you told them too. They will just sit there furious and thinking "That big jerk is ruining my time with mommy".

I think the easiest way to diffuse this kind of emotional tug of war without making too much of it or giving in, is too promote some empathy for the unpopular parent, like "Oh, poor daddy, now he is going to be so sad if he can't hear a story too!". This usually works very well.

If not, and the child is still insisting they leave, you could just say sadly "Well I will miss daddy to much if he isn't here, that will make me too sad, so he has to stay for the story too or I would be too sad to read it".

This may not be the answer the child wanted but it is often enough to let them accept the situation with dad there too.

It allows them some empathy for mom, if not dad, and that is a start is the right direction. Ultimately we want our child to understand empathy and fairness; not just suffer the presence of dad with resentment and anger.

Heartmama



suzan
Member posted 08-27-2001 08:50 AM
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But what if the child is still adamant that dad not be included? The promoting empathy lines that heartmama suggests can be honest expressions of mom's feelings about the situation- it is important to be honest about what a person thinks and to communicate that- but then is mom going to refuse to read if child insists that dad not be included? Wouldn't be not having empathy for the child?


momof1+2
Member posted 08-27-2001 08:58 AM
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Thanks for the replies..I think the two posts so far describe exactly what is going on my head. What I am thinking so far is that no, ds does not have the right to exclude daddy... Should I tell him this afternoon that while Dad is at a work we can a story alone together...but we will not let him exclude dad at story time tonight? It really is unfair to Dad and dads feelings really are hurt. I think a lot of this comes cuz he is mad that Dad doesn't play with him as much as it SEEMS like he used to (cuz I am home all the time now, we used to get home all at the same time, including ds). At first I gave in because I was placing the feelings of Ds first, but as a family are we not entitled to equal rights at having our needs met.....


jp
Member posted 08-27-2001 09:06 AM
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I think I would talk about how everybody feels and then tell him that this is family story time. If he doesn't want family story time, fine, we will do something else (no story). If he wants story time alone with Mom, we will have that when Daddy isn't home.
I wouldn't let my kids exclude each other, I'm not going to let them exclude their Dad either. And important as it is to respect a child's feelings, when there is a decision to be made and you can't reach an agreement, it should be the adult who makes the decision! (What if he wanted ice cream for every meal?)



momof1+2
Member posted 08-27-2001 09:47 AM
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Well, he does want Ice cream for every meal... But thats another issue (JK). I guess I am a little oversensitive about his feelings right now, but I think you are right. When he gets upset the first thing he wants to do is EXCLUDE. I even see this as a problem that he has with other kids. He is kind of controlling and his brother (9) doesn't like to play with him because he wants everyone to play his way, his ideas. When his feelings are hurt the first thing he wants to do is take it out on some one else...hurt some one else's feelings. Just a couple of weeks ago we went through this peroid where everytime he was mad at me he would take it out on the neighbor kid (who is 3 so easier to take it out on than me)...we had a lot of talks about Anger and whats okay and lots of stuff and he is no longer being aggresive, but it seems like he is still projecting *stuff* on to others in a different way....


heartmama
Member posted 08-27-2001 09:23 PM
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suzan--
I think in this situation it is context. This is a family story time, and the mom is happy to read to the child alone at other times of the day. This child knows what everyone expects from this time together (ie. to be together). His request is clearly emotional and sincere, and I hope I made it clear that I would avoid telling him point blank he is being unfair or not to talk to daddy like that. I would listen and validate how he felt. I would defintely try to appeal to his sense of empathy, even if only for the mom, in part because it is a way to let the child have their feelings and also have the chance to enjoy the storytime.

IMO however, the request is ultimately unfair. Whether it is daddy or the doggy, if this time is family time, it is for the entire family to attend. I don't think it is at all helpful or healthy for the child to actual *get* to kick dad out. Likewise, I strongly disagree with parents who do this with children ie. if you don't stop that, you can't have dessert with the rest of us. What is important is to get to express how he feels, and then have an opportunity to see the request is unfair, without being made to feel bad for how he feels.

He does not have to change how he feels about dad, but he also does not, IMO get to treat dad unfairly. If the child would really not accept any kind or loving opportunity to let go of his unfair request, I would explain that this time is for the family, and anyone who wants to be there in the family can stay for the story. Then I would read it. Most likely, I would guess the child is going to either leave in tears or stay and be distruptive. In either case, I would handle that however you normally handle those situations, and continue with the story.

In situations where there is no special purpose to the time together, I would be much more willing to accomodate this kind of request. Ie. when ds wants me to read to him at bedtime and not daddy, that is fine.

If I remember right you are into tcc? I would think then that you would agree that normally a child who is really being unfair *will* accept a change of heart when others lovingly point out how the request is hurtful to them, and they can sense that the request will be too harmful if carried out to warrant contiuing to demand for it. Children know when they cross emotional lines with others, if not immediately they know it when the hurt person explains how they feel. If daddy is really sad to be excluded, and mom would really be sad to see him go, I think most kids will accept that and let the storytime proceed. Don't you??

Heartmama



momof1+2
Member posted 08-28-2001 07:48 AM
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Well, in case any one is interested, Story Time went off wonderfully last night.
I told him yesterday afternoon that I was really worried about Daddy's feelings and that he was really missing having story time with us. at first he reacted like *Too Bad..Nothing's Changing* Then I told him about how sad that made me because I really enjoyed the times we get to spend together as a family...and couldn't we find some time to read alone together this afternoon? I really like reading alone too.

It worked! And the whole conversation seemed to turn around what ever it was he was holding against Dad. Last night he moved Dad's chair really close to his at dinner,they played like old pals all night, and we all cuddled up to some great stories together.

In bed he talked about how much he enjoyed all the times we read together that day, including with his friend from next door...then he added "I really learned a lot from all that reading." I couldn't help but give him the biggest hug and kiss ever!

P.S. what is IMO ?

[This message has been edited by momof1+2 (edited 08-28-2001).]



heartmama
Member posted 08-28-2001 09:12 AM
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IMO=In My Opinion
How great!! No more storytime blue's. Thank goodness this worked, and it didn't come to having to end storytime or ds in tears over Daddy being there. This works well with ds too.

Suzan...sorry I ment TCS not TCC. My mistake!

Heartmama



momof1+2
Member posted 08-28-2001 09:56 AM
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Well, *IMO* I love it when stuff like this happens. Sometimes I think ds just wants to know whats okay and whats not. I really don't think he likes it when we *let* him be hurtful to others. Today for instance, he just seems less stressed out and more compassionate than he did even yesterday. Thanks to everyone who shared their opinions here! I already can't wait to read stories tonight (we already had one "alone stroy time today!") PEACE to ALL


suzan
Member posted 08-29-2001 01:57 PM
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Sounds like you found a common preference- a solution that everyone is happy with. It's a great conflict resolution skill, where everyone can be respectful of their selves and each other, and get what they want. Honest communication. Cool!