Is my 1 year old "spoiled"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 05-12-2012, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've generally ascribed to the notion that you can't spoil a baby by giving him too much attention. My son is approaching a year old I'm not quite so sure that's true anymore.

 

He's always been a high needs child. When he was a small infant most of his awake time was spent crying and we would have to intensely entertain/soothe him to prevent him from melting down. Now most of the time he is awake he is whining to be picked up, clinging to our legs, and refusing to play unless DH or I are sitting right there. When we are playing with him he is really cheerful--it's when we try to walk away that he gets really upset. He's only okay with being worn if he's ready to take a nap. I kind of figured this was normal for a kid his age. But I recently got a part time job and he's been at his caregiver's house for 2 days. She is a great woman and really gives him attention and doesn't believe in leaving him to cry (especially during the transition where he's never been apart from his mom for that long). But she recently sent me an email asking if we could consider this month a grace period, because he was really needy and she was unable to devote much attention to the other children. She has extensive experience, both in daycare and her own nieces and nephews so I'm feeling kind of shocked that she's already giving me a head's up about throwing in the towel if he doesn't adjust--after just one week! Surely with all her experience she's dealt with separation anxiety before, so DS must be an exceptional case.

 

Anyway, this has started a bit of conflict between my DH and I. He thinks we are spoiling him and our caregiver's email just affirmed his opinion. I think it seems really obvious and intuitive to hold up my DS when he wants to be held. But he says that DS has learned that whenever he whines he'll get picked up. I can't deny that our boy seems to be much less easygoing than every other baby I've met and I don't know how much of that is his personality and how much is my parenting.

 

Should I start teaching him a little independence, and if so, how? 


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#2 of 16 Old 05-12-2012, 01:03 PM
 
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I've generally ascribed to the notion that you can't spoil a baby by giving him too much attention. My son is approaching a year old I'm not quite so sure that's true anymore.

 

He's always been a high needs child. When he was a small infant most of his awake time was spent crying and we would have to intensely entertain/soothe him to prevent him from melting down. Now most of the time he is awake he is whining to be picked up, clinging to our legs, and refusing to play unless DH or I are sitting right there. 

 

Should I start teaching him a little independence, and if so, how? 

This sounds frustrating, and it's even more difficult that you and your husband are not in agreement on how to handle it. Hugs to both of you.

 

I wonder how he is eating (protein/fatty foods, or is more of a carb guy)? I know my kids are super whiny when hungry and get hungry FAST if they eat mostly carbs, which they prefer to do. Something to think about.

 

Also how is his sleep? Maybe log it a few days to really know--I know that I tend to over-estimate what they get until I make a point of tracking.

 

Lastly, has he had a good physical? Maybe he has an allergies, or ear infections that have gone unnoticed. I know few people who didn't even know their kiddo was sick until a well-baby check-up finds a raging ear infection. Some kids have them chronically, and don't get fevers or tug ears or any of the usual signs, but act "fussy".

 

Your care-giver may have tons of experience, but really a one-year-old would be held all the time in many cultures. That is not out of the realm of normal, most people would wear the baby in a sling.  I worry more that you describe him as "whining and clinging" all the time.

 

With our first I was so confused and stressed, she was high-needs and screamed all day as an infant (did not realize we were allergic to dairy). Then the kid would just.not.play.alone... she had every toy known to man, but would fuss when I tried to get her to play solo. I remember being in tears most days when my husband would finally come home.

 

Now four kids later I finally get that it must be really boring for kids to be by themselves. Our 10 month old will play with her little basket of toys for a bit, but if she catches sight of me leaving the room--look out!

 

My advice, since you asked for help, would be to let your son follow you wherever you go. In each room you work in, have something he can do that is similar to what you are doing and just let him be a part of your daily life.  At one-ish, my third child was helping me load the dishwasher every day. It does not have to be elaborate, and I often improvise. Everything they do is "play" so even if it is sucking on a clean washcloth and putting it in a little basket while you  fold laundry in the basement, he is getting something out of it and you don't have to stress about him playing solo.

 

We are programmed as a species to seek out others of our kind, so maybe your guy just has great survival instincts? On the off chance he is feeling poorly, tracking the above mentioned concerns or any others you have noticed may lead to finding help. Honestly, you are right, it is normal for kids to not want to be "alone" at this age, but if he is crabby and fussy most of the time it may be more than just a personality issue.

 

Hope that helps, please know I wrote it from one Mama to another, who knows how hard this job is. And happy Mothers day tomorrow~!

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#3 of 16 Old 05-12-2012, 01:20 PM
 
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You cannot spoil a 1 year old.  

 

Some of the issues sound like separation anxiety, which is very common in one year olds.  

 

He might also be a spirited baby/child.  

 

A few resources:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Your-Spirited-Child-Perceptive/dp/0060923288

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Fussy-Baby-Book-Parenting/dp/0316779164/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336853657&sr=1-1

 

It is Ok if your child care provider cannot handle him.  It is better that she be honest than watch him for the money, while everyone is unhappy, you know?

 

Ask her to give you a week or two's notice if she decides she can no longer watch him.  You might need time to find a new sitter.  A person that just watches him alone and can devote one on one time to him might be ideal while he is so young.  

 

I do think his behaviour is pretty normal for a kid his age, but I know it can be exhausting.  Hang in there - this very physical need-to-be-there all the time stage does not last forever.  

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#4 of 16 Old 05-12-2012, 07:32 PM
 
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I feel like there's two sides to this:

 

1. You did not spoil your baby.  You just got blessed with a high needs kid.  You didn't make him this way by giving him lots of attention, and you can't make him """"normal"""" by treating him the way you would treat a more easy-going baby.  So...you're fine! 

 

But.

 

2. As you enter toddlerhood, I feel it is appropriate (and necessary) to start setting some boundaries, little by little.  He will have to wait a little longer to be picked up if you're busy.  He will have to learn to entertain himself, sometimes, for a little while (like, a three minutes), even if he doesn't like it.  And he will start to learn those boundaries.  I think around age 1, that baby urgency started to pass.  Your son will at some point start demanding things that he really truly cannot have.  You'll deny him, and he'll be upset, but he'll live.  And this will happen a LOT, because toddlers want a lot of things they can't have.  So...it'll start to become more natural for you to set some boundaries on your attention, too. 
 

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#5 of 16 Old 05-13-2012, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This sounds frustrating, and it's even more difficult that you and your husband are not in agreement on how to handle it. Hugs to both of you.

I wonder how he is eating (protein/fatty foods, or is more of a carb guy)? I know my kids are super whiny when hungry and get hungry FAST if they eat mostly carbs, which they prefer to do. Something to think about.

Also how is his sleep? Maybe log it a few days to really know--I know that I tend to over-estimate what they get until I make a point of tracking.

Lastly, has he had a good physical? Maybe he has an allergies, or ear infections that have gone unnoticed. I know few people who didn't even know their kiddo was sick until a well-baby check-up finds a raging ear infection. Some kids have them chronically, and don't get fevers or tug ears or any of the usual signs, but act "fussy".


My advice, since you asked for help, would be to let your son follow you wherever you go. In each room you work in, have something he can do that is similar to what you are doing and just let him be a part of your daily life.  At one-ish, my third child was helping me load the dishwasher every day. It does not have to be elaborate, and I often improvise. Everything they do is "play" so even if it is sucking on a clean washcloth and putting it in a little basket while you  fold laundry in the basement, he is getting something out of it and you don't have to stress about him playing solo.
Thanks for the feedback! When he was colicky I went to 3 different pediatricians desperate for a diagnosis of something "fixable". I did a TED for six weeks (blech) and used probiotics with no results. I am really quite obsessive about his sleep, following age-appropriate waketimes and bedtimes (he sleeps through the night and takes two naps). He goes to all his well-baby visits and his ears have been given the all-clear many times! So unfortunately, there aren't any proximate causes for this behavior.

You're actually right in that he's fine watching me fold clothes and stuff. However, anything that doesn't allow me to be down at his level will kickoff a storm. Dishes, computer work, sweeping, etc. As a result the house is a disaster and this is probably one of the reasons my husband is annoyed.

We live in a 1 bedroom apt with a common living/kitchen area so there really isn't any leaving him alone. We're always within sight but it's just not enough!

Sorry if I sound discouraged, it's because I am. My husband and I have always struggled with the surprise of having such a unique baby but I'd like to think I've gotten over it. I take it in stride most of the time. However I think my son's personality has affected my husband's ability to bond with him. This email just sort of affirmed for him that we have a "bad baby" and that he needs to be "fixed".
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Ask her to give you a week or two's notice if she decides she can no longer watch him.  You might need time to find a new sitter.  A person that just watches him alone and can devote one on one time to him might be ideal while he is so young.   
We were hoping that having other kids around (it's only 2 other girls, older than him) would provide him with enough distraction so that he wouldn't upset. He usually likes being around other kids. She is very good about advance notice so if it's not better after next week I'll start looking for other options. However now that I know his personality is exceptional I am afraid to leave him with someone I don't know--we just moved to the area. I'd probably be more comfortable looking for an accredited daycare.

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#6 of 16 Old 05-13-2012, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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2. As you enter toddlerhood, I feel it is appropriate (and necessary) to start setting some boundaries, little by little.  He will have to wait a little longer to be picked up if you're busy.  He will have to learn to entertain himself, sometimes, for a little while (like, a three minutes), even if he doesn't like it.  And he will start to learn those boundaries.  I think around age 1, that baby urgency started to pass.  Your son will at some point start demanding things that he really truly cannot have.  You'll deny him, and he'll be upset, but he'll live.  And this will happen a LOT, because toddlers want a lot of things they can't have.  So...it'll start to become more natural for you to set some boundaries on your attention, too. 
 
Yes, I do this a few times a day out of necessity. I let him cling to my legs and whine, but continue talking to him, when I'm trying to do something half a load of dishes. I'm trying to do that a little more each day for a little longer. I wouldn't know how to encourage him to play alone for a few minutes without baby-gating him since he'd just drop everything and crawl over, though dizzy.gif

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#7 of 16 Old 05-14-2012, 12:32 AM
 
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I don't have time now to read all the replies, but I was wondering what sort of adjustment period you did with him at daycare. IME it is not enough just to stay there one day or one hour with him and then leave him alone. My son started daycare at 11 months and the adjustment period was around two months and very gradual and slow, to where he didn't even notice. Then we did half days for awhile and now he goes four full days and loves it.

I realize you may be working, but IMO this is worth rearranging and taking some time off work to make sure he gets settled. In any case if your current daycare drops him you'll have to do this, so might as well do it now. Start going with him for one hour every morning. Be friendly with the daycare woman so he sees she's ok with you. Encourage them to interact so he can build an attachment to her in your presence. Do this for a couple weeks, just one hour, with you there. Encourage him to engage with the daycare woman and the other kids and try to recede into the corner. Then the other room, and then saying goodbye and leaving him there....but only for like an hour at first. Do it gradually. I know it can be frustrating if you are eager to get on to work or whatever, but if this is going to work he needs an adjustment period with you there.

If the current woman drops you, make a long and slow adjustment period a prerequisite for a new nanny/daycare and give it at least 3 weeks and up to 8. From what I understand some kids do actually require that long to learn to trust the new people and environment, and you may need to take that time. It seems like long now, but once you do it and see how happy and well adjusted he is and you have reliable daycare.....you will forget about it and move on.

Good luck!



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#8 of 16 Old 05-15-2012, 07:09 PM
 
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Well, I have been doing childcare for ten yrs, and had a similar issue with a little girl that came to me.  She was about 9 months when I first started taking her, and i only had my daughter in addition to her and I finally had to tell the mom it wasn't going to work out.  This wasn't anyone's fault, it's just that this little girl wasn't ready.  She needed A LOT of reassurance, couldn't ever be put down, cried constantly, wouldn't take solid naps, etc etc.  It wasn't only stressful for me or my daughter, but also for the poor baby who really just needed some solid one on one for a while longer.  I suggested a nanny that could come to her house would be best.  I have to say that mom was not NEARLY as receptive as you are, so coo-dose to you for being willing to explore this with your son and not just getting defensive with the care provider.

 

I don't know how much flexibility you have with your schedule or childcare arrangements, but I would say breaking him in more slowly definitely sounds in order.  Whether you cut down the hrs, combine that with staying with him at the providers house for a few hrs each week to break him in, hiring someone to come to the house instead?  I don't think you're spoiling him, it sounds like he's just a high needs baby and you're allowing him to practice being independent in little spurts throughout your days at home, but perhaps this childcare situation is too big too fast, and that's ok.  I'm glad the provider was honest with you, and that you're taking the time to think about it.

 

good luck!

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#9 of 16 Old 05-15-2012, 09:24 PM
 
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At 12 mos, spoiling is not the concern, I totally agree with the pps on that.  However, dad is a concern.  I would do some research on age appropriate behavior and share it with him, so that he knows what is appropriate and what is not.  Dads can have a very difficult time with the infant stage to begin with, but particularly with a more clingy or higher strung child, it can be very difficult for them.  I know my DH still has a very difficult time with DS at times, and he's almost 3.  Once they're talking and interacting more, dads tend to have an easier time. 

 

I will say that we didn't go through separation anxiety until 18 mos, so for us it was later, but man was it intense.  To the point where he would vomit within minutes of me leaving the room.  It took a year to get past that.  Even after that point, he still doesn't do well staying with other people.  We have therapists in daily (5 days/week, 5 hours/day), and it took him 2 months of daily interaction with his therapists before he stopped screaming the moment they knocked on the door.  And none of us ever left the house - I was always just in the next room.  He's always enjoyed playing with his therapists, but just knowing that they were there and that meant that I was leaving him in the other room for a few hours was enough to cause a fit... twice a day, every day for 2 months.  And then one day it just stopped, and he asked his therapist for a hug when she walked in the door.  So a transition period, while obviously difficult logistically may be what he needs. 

 

I see by your sig that you BW.  Does your DCP?  It might be worth looking for one willing to wear him, if he reacts well to being worn, obviously.  It can really help with the bonding, and with the necessity of doing other things (taking care of other kids) while still meeting his needs.  For that matter, it's a good way for you to meet your own needs while still meeting his, it sounds like you're struggling with that yourself. 

 

And as for "encouraging" him to play alone - I used gates.  I was not okay with him being in certain parts of the house, or being under foot while I cooked, or grabbing dishes out of the dishwasher.  So I left him behind a gate while I did those things.  He learned.  He wasn't thrilled about it, but he learned.  And eventually I was able to back off the gate usage as he learned to listen to simple commands (no! hot! etc.). 


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#10 of 16 Old 05-16-2012, 05:41 AM
 
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It sounds like separation anxiety to me. Supposedly playing peek-a-boo helps kids learn that you exist when you're not right there with them, and therefore helps iwth that, but it must take a while to work because separation anxiety stuck around a while for me.

Separation anxiety is very very very common at 12 months. That's often the high point of it. My guess is she hasn't taken on a child who started childcare right at the age where separtion anxiety is worst. If a child started at 6 months, before it was so intense, then 12 months wouldn't have been as bad.

Anyway, you can't spoil a baby that age even, and while separation anxiety is related to having formed a secure attachment, it's more about being separated from you - where he can't see you and you aren't near him - than it is about specifically not being held.
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#11 of 16 Old 05-16-2012, 08:16 AM
 
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Hugs, mama!!! hug2.gif


Don't doubt yourself - your son is who he is - you can't "fix" him because he isn't broken!  You can find ways to work with his unique lil temperament, instead of fighting it, and the resources kathymuggle mentioned are excellent - they really changed my life.  They are super validating (and would be great to share with your DH to help him understand) and offer lots of peaceful, practical suggestions (especially Raising Your Spirited Child for toddlerhood and beyond).

 

I know how hard it can be to have a kid who is HN and "different" than the kids who don't mind who holds them, who pass out in car seats wherever, whenever, etc.  But that does NOT mean those kids are "normal" and your kid isn't.  Kids are just different - just like grown people.

 

We still cannot leave our (almost 13 month old) DS with anyone.  I've gotten to the point where I can leave him in the church nursery for a full 5 minutes with other kids (he's very outgoing), a room full of toys and a volunteer he knows well before he totally loses it - 5 minutes.  I know it can wear on you - DH and I have never left him for a date night, I've never been able to get away for a yoga lesson, etc.  You have to do what's right for you to keep your sanity, but...

 

If you can't be patient, loving, understanding and compassionate to a one-year-old, with whom CAN you be, KWIM??? (eta: this is directed at your DH's thinking, not you!) I mean, I know he's not an infant, but he is still a baby kid - it's hard for me to imagine a more vulnerable lil person than one who is just learning to walk/talk/do all these new things, that are so exciting but so scary, and he needs the security of his parents.

 

I think easing him into a new environment is definitely the way to go, if you can find a way to do so.   The problem with "fixing" HN kids by treating them like others is that is does even MORE damage to them, because they are so much more sensitive, and they have a harder time bouncing back.  It's pretty much the worst thing you CAN do - not the way you want to go at all (and while your DH thinks some "tough love" may buy you peace in the short-term, I guarantee you you will pay in spades later through misbehavior to get negative attention, etc. - I have many family examples of this!!).

 

I mean honestly, if your kid was sensitive to the sun and sunburned more easily than all the other kids, would you throw him out on a beach without sunscreen and tell him to suck it up?  No way.  Nor would you throw him into the pool because he was scared of water.  I hope you can find a way to gradually work with him on this in tiny steps - or perhaps reconsider returning to work right now (don't know your financial situation but in my case part-time work and part-time childcare are nearly a sum-zero game...) or work from home first?  Or hire in home care (maybe split care costs with a friend, but in your home?) and gradually go out of sight for a few minutes, then out the door for a few if he seems ok...?

 

Good luck!!!  I'm sorry your DH isn't supportive - I hope he can come around.  Parenting is hard enough without support! 


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#12 of 16 Old 06-22-2015, 04:54 AM
 
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We got a similar problem with our 14 months son. He goes everywhere my wife goes and asking her to pick him up or to breastfeed him even though he would go away after a minute showing that he was not really hungry at that moment. We prefer to have him breast fed until the age of 2, so we decided not to cut it out.

Also when i'm around he always wants me to pick him up and bring to various parts of the house which i'm totally fine with that and enjoy it as well. But recently he started to do it a lot, even late at night when he wakes up from sleep. Also he got the habit of crying and nagging for everything he wants instantly.

Last night around midnight he asked me to pick him up to play with the window handle or some similar and i tried to ignore him so that he would come to bed. but he went balletic and burst into tears with severe screams and i couldn't stand it and brought her to the laptop to watch some cartoon so that he pacified eventually.

So i'm not sure whether it is fine to constantly do as he wants (except real dangerous stuff) or i have to put my foot down in some cases to not spoil the baby?

Some advice please
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#13 of 16 Old 06-22-2015, 06:31 AM
 
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IMO, if you do things because you want to then you're not spoiling the child. To me what "spoils" a child is when you start changing your behavior to appease a child that's acting badly - or if you know a tantrum will occur even though it hasn't yet. I believe in being careful to organize your life to suit the child's developmental stage (I.e. Set up for success), but stick to your guns once you've made a decision. The tantrums will happen. You don't have to get angry or appease.
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#14 of 16 Old 06-23-2015, 05:08 AM
 
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The term "spoiled" is never appropriate for any age. It implies a permanent condition. It's just learned behavior that can often be unlearned in a few days. I think the fact that such a term is in common use is just a symptom of the fact that most parents have low skill levels with dealing with this kind of learned behavior.

But you have to take it easy at 12 months, it takes time. Kids have more potential for self-control at 18 months or later.

The book "Incredible Toddlers" is the best I know of for the appropriate teaching of independence and other important skills at that age.
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#15 of 16 Old 06-24-2015, 12:54 PM
 
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Babak21, my first child was like that as a toddler, and even now at 10 years old, almost every day there is a time when he tries to order me around or bend the rules. It's exhausting!

It's perfectly fine to say, "No, we're not doing that now; it's sleeping time." and show that you expect him to come back to bed. Sometimes it works. It's also okay to admit when that's not working and get up for a while. Just beware of totally giving in and letting him run the show. Instead, when he is crying and raging, pick him up and hold him and say, "You want to play with the window handle. But it is sleeping time. You're angry that we aren't playing! You wish we could stay up." Try to keep your tone soothing and think about how his feelings are so big for his tiny body and this is hard for him. Speak his feelings as best you understand them, but also hold firm to what needs to happen now. When he's clearly not ready to move on with what's supposed to be happening (in this case, sleeping) offer a transitional activity like getting a drink of water or sitting in the rocking chair listening to music. (This is basically what you did--no, we're not going to play with the window handle, but we can watch a few cartoons--but I'm wary of doing anything with a screen before bed because the light can make both children and adults more wakeful.) Take the attitude that it's time to sleep now, but you can see he's not quite ready to sleep, so you are helping him relax.

Some toddlers do nurse for just a moment, kind of to reassure themselves rather than for nutrition. If it's not uncomfortable for your wife (like making the milk "let down" so that she is aching because he didn't drink it) then it's fine to let him nurse.

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#16 of 16 Old 06-25-2015, 02:50 AM
 
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It's one thing to say what you think a child is feeling but wrong to TELL a child what he/she is feeling. Remember, how you treat your child is how your child will treat others, including you, someday.

If you were to talk to my mother, she would tell you that I was a child very like the one the OP described. As I grew up I became the child my mother depended on the most. I could be trusted more than my more independent siblings.

It seems to me that perhaps this caregiver and this child simply are not good for each other. At least not right now. I agree with those who have expressed concern that the child's father has a problem seeing his child in a positive light.

If it were me, and the part time job was not needed for family survival, I would take a step back, quit the job and find a care situation that works better before beginning to work. And I would borrow some books (possibly those already suggested) and read them and discuss them with my husband, leaving the books I like available for him to read if he wants.

I hope the situation improves and your child grows into a caring and compassionate adult!
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