"I don't love Daddy" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 08-18-2010, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My almost 3 year old says this all the time. In front of him, and just with me. Often when the two of us are having a great moment and I say "I love you" She'll say "I love you too, but I don't love Daddy."

When he's around we usually say something like "I know you don't mean that" Or "you don't have to love me, I love you anyways!" When dad is not with us I usually say "It might hurt daddy if you say that. Lets be nice to him because he loves us so much!"

I know the more we zone in on this the bigger of an issue it will become... but I also don't really know what this is about... and don't know if I SHOULD be keeping it so casual.

Any advice?

Also I should say that Dad is not really the disciplinarian (I guess I am), and they have great times together too. I am definitely way more involved in her life... but dad helps out a lot too.
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#2 of 13 Old 08-18-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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Every time she says she doesn't love daddy, she is being told how much daddy loves her. That is some pretty strong reinforcement. Does daddy tend to say he loves her at other times? or tend to only talk about it after she mentions that she doesn't love him?

In the future I would just look said and say "ok" then move on. Daddy should talk about how much he loves her at other times, not right when she is expressing her lack of love for him.

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#3 of 13 Old 08-18-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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My almost-4-yo DD used to say that fairly often, mostly about Dad, but sometimes about me, depending upon whom she had been spending the most time with. We tried not to give it too much attention. I know it can be disturbing to hear, but I do think it's a phase that will pass. I think it's just a little hard for them to transition from one parent to the other at that age and their cognitive development has to advance a little before they can figure out that they can love more than one person at a time.
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#4 of 13 Old 08-18-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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ouch. that must be hard!

actually, I would if possible completely and totally ignore those statements. As pp said, responding is reinforcing.

they are probably pretty normal, as "love" is a complicated word, lots of kids have a special bond with mom (or whoever primary attachment person is) that won't be replicated anywhere else, and it could be that your daughter is operationalizing "love" as that kind of bond? in this way, trying to convince her otherwise is confusing...later I am sure she will learn there are lots of kinds of love...and come to embrace the special love she has for her dad--not the same as her love for you, but LOVE all the same .
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#5 of 13 Old 08-18-2010, 06:05 PM
 
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Both my kids went through this at about 3 or 4. My son would actually list all the people he loved, and then specifically say, 'but I DON'T love daddy'. With my oldest, I think my husband was much more sensitive about it. With my son he would fake cry which ds thought was hilarious.

They both grew out of it on their own I think. They are 11 and 8 now and love their dad!
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#6 of 13 Old 08-18-2010, 06:22 PM
 
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Chalk us up as another set of parents who went through this - youngest DD did it from 2.5 - 3 yrs old. Tore daddy's heart apart. She adores daddy now
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#7 of 13 Old 08-18-2010, 06:24 PM
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My DD went through a period where if she loved one thing or person she rejected the other thing or person. So if she loved sleeping in her tent, she HATED!! her bed. If she wanted to talk to just daddy, she'd get angry if I tried to talk to her too. Anytime she's said "I don't love daddy/mommy/someone" we've responded with "oh you just want mommy/daddy/someoneelse right now' or "Are you angry with daddy/mommy/someone?". I think the most important thing is to not take it personal when a small child uses words like "don't love" or "hate" because the only thing they really understand about those words is that they are powerful words.
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#8 of 13 Old 08-19-2010, 04:03 PM
 
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Well, if this happens to me, I'll be back to edit this post.

(There's an emoticon for crying, right?)

But, really, I doubt a 2 or 3 year old knows what the word love means. And maybe the fact that Daddy isn't around as much as you are has a created a distinction between the two of you. Your little girl doesn't understand how much she loves Daddy because she doesn't understand how dependent she is on him too.

You could try to explain that to her maybe?

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#9 of 13 Old 08-19-2010, 04:29 PM
 
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We're going through this too, some with daddy, but mostly with the older sister. The 3 y/o says ALL THE TIME, I don't love F, which hurts F's feelings SO much. But I agree with the pp who said they don't really understand except that they know those are powerful words. Doesn't make the "unloved" person feel any better to hear it, though. I think I'm the ONLY one who doesn't get all bent out of shape when she says it to me!

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#10 of 13 Old 08-19-2010, 04:53 PM
 
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My dd said this at one point when she was younger, and I told her how much her dad loved her and all that and asked why she felt that way, and she said she doesn't love him the way she loves me. We talked about how we have different relationships with different people and can love people in different ways but still love them. I don't remember if she "got it" right away or if it took awhile, but anyway I guess the point is that love is a much more complicated concept to grasp than it appears on the surface. We can love different people and have different specific feelings but they can all be love. We can get angry with someone and feel angry and not feel loving at that moment yet still continue loving the person. There are lots of things about love that are hard for very young children to understand. I would worry more about how you dh handles it, that he understands that it's just a lack of understanding rather than a lack of love, because it could hurt him and he could respond in a way that makes things worse rather than better, and then just rest assured that she will mature and understand what love is and have a very special relationship with him.
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#11 of 13 Old 08-27-2010, 08:28 PM
 
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I didn't read the other responses but...

Dd was the same way around that age. It was hard on me and daddy. He felt like dd and I were a team that he didn't belong to. I really think it was because she felt like I understood her more because we spent all of our time together.

BUT, it has just gotten better with time. Now they are great buddies and she loves him a lot. From time to time she'll just come out and say, "Do you remember when I didn't love Daddy? Why didn't I?"

mumma to sweet 7 year old girl
and darling 2 year old guy

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#12 of 13 Old 08-28-2010, 01:47 AM
 
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My 3 yo actually tells both me and dh quite frequently that he hates us. We sometimes say, "Oh, are you angry at me?" but mostly I just let it go.

I actually think that, at the moment, he DOES hate us. That's the beauty of being three, ya know? You get to be so caught up in the moment of your emotions, with hardly any prefrontal interference

Mommy to kids

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#13 of 13 Old 08-28-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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It happened at our house with my twins. I think at that age, at least for us, there was an idea that in order to really love me, they couldn't love him. I talked about how I loved lots of people, and how people can love many others. I talked about the people who loved them when we would do our daily prayers, and daddy was always included.

I never got worked up about their not loving daddy, but it did focus my attention on ways to show them that daddy loved them and that they could really love more than one person.

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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