I'm hoping to connect with some of you who may have experienced something similar. I left my husband (moved out on 11/27/11) recently. My 5 year old DS has been having a very tough time with going to and staying with his dad.
To provide a little background, I am a total attachment parenting mom. I BF until he was 27 months, cloth diapered, wore him, we still co-sleep, etc. His father has never really been very engaged. I'm not saying he doesn't love his son, but he has always put his own needs first. I remember trying to get him to read various books and articles about the importance of bonding at an early age, but he would never read them.
My DS has really been doing wonderfully. He goes to an amazing Reggio preschool, and they feel he is handling things well. When he is with me at my house (I moved out), he is fine. He sleeps, he eats great, he plays. When he goes to his dad's he gets REALLY sad at bedtime. He's been OK for one night, but after that he wants to come back to me. I feel terrible. His dad has bought all of these things to try and make his house a place our son wants to be, but DS doesn't care about any of that. I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to stand in the way of DS having a relationship with his dad, but when he's crying and not going to sleep until 9:30-10:00 at night I worry. I know some of this is the fact that he is a five year old boy, but I also think he just feels more secure with me.
Oh, that sounds so hard.
Part of what may be going on is newness. My two kiddos are now a year into this, and it is better than it was at the beginning (my youngest was 5 at the time). Their dad lives in another state, and when they leave to see him there are tears....but they also eventually have fun. I honestly believe I am better at parenting, but overall, ex really does try much of the time and I think their development is going to be better with my nurturing as strong a relationship as possible with him, as much as that rankles me. Early on the tears were as much about the change and the loss of family as about anything else....but they are not gone. It is still hard for my son to be a little boy whose parents don't live in the same house...but it is better....
Mom to two terrific kiddos, affirming every day that the Universe is unfolding as it should and all is well...
My practial advice is to send an item of your clothing, unwashed so your smell is on it. Dad needs to starthis own co sleeping routine until your ds is comfortable being there for the second night. It will get easier, but it will take time. To help, make a big deal of how much fun he is going to have with dad, and how fun it will be to talk to you in the morning on the phone, after he has slept the night. Hang in there, it's hard, and will be for a long time, but it does get better,
A book that has been great for us is one called Two Homes (http://www.amazon.com/Two-Homes-Claire-Masurel/dp/0763619841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324086177&sr=8-1), and another one called "The Invisible String" (its about a string made of love that goes between 2 people who love each other all the time. VERY cute - my ds LOVES it)
Another thing I want to do is get my ds a build-a-bear with my voice saying, "I love you, sweet dreams, good night!" or something like that for bedtime at his dads.
Also, I try not to call ds too close to bedtime, because then if he gets upset its harder for him to sleep - but maybe a call first thing in the morning would give him something to look forward to and help out with bedtime?
You can also ask him what he thinks would make it easier. He is a little older than my ds, so that might work (but I don't know much about 4yo's, so I don't know if he's old enough iykwim).