Child doesn't have any interest in father! Is this normal?? What to do? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 10-30-2011, 09:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi and please help. I don't know what to do/think about this...

My daughter is almost 21mo and has never shown a great interest in her father. I guess I just thought that was because he works and I take care of her throughout the day. Maybe it's just been a grumpy last couple of days but it seems to be getting worse. She woke up from a nap the other day started crying when she saw him and promptly burried her face in my shoulder. He tried to talk to her to place a hand on her back and it only made it worse. We like for her to have boundaries and usually if she does something she knows we don't want her to do we'll tell her no quietly and then firmer/take the object away etc. to get the point across. I've done this a hundred x and it seems to be effective when I do it but when he does it, I've noticed, that about 40% of the time she'll just start crying (instead of laughing and running away/throwing tantrums) Is she really afraid of him? How can I bridge this gap? Her father and I aren't on the best of terms on our good days and we fought alot during the pregnancy. Did I have anything to do with this subconciously? I tell her to go show her father things she shows me, give him kisses etc... I don't want there to be any bad feelings between them. That's her father. But when she comes home she'll always come looking for me, never him. She ignores him alot even when he's talking to her and cries for me if he picks her up, changes her, tries to put her down for the night.... I want to say that I really don't think there is anything perverse going on, nothing like that. It just makes me feel terrible :(

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#2 of 14 Old 10-30-2011, 10:39 PM
 
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My guess would be that she picks up on the vibes from you that you don't really like Daddy and that makes her shy away from him. If Mummy doesn't like someone then she isn't going to like them either.

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It's complicated.
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#3 of 14 Old 10-31-2011, 04:38 AM
 
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I'm not even going to make any guesses as to why.  But an idea as to what to do:  If you go out on short trips every so often, with Dad and your daughter together and no non-child duties for Dad to perform, I think she would adjust just as a child going to daycare or who has a babysitter learns to see the new adult as another guardian.  Kids will sometimes behave worse or avoid a parent mostly when the other (apparently preferred) parent is present.  Once they are one on one with Dad, they learn to see Dad as a guardian figure, too.

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#4 of 14 Old 10-31-2011, 04:53 AM
 
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Does the father show enough interest? (honest question, don't be offended - maybe he has to leave for work at 6 am and is back at 8 pm?)

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#5 of 14 Old 10-31-2011, 05:47 AM
 
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My almost 4-year old is the same.  He's always been a momma's boy, he won't let daddy give him hugs and kisses or tuck him in.  Some days he's closer to DH than others and will be really chatty and affectionate with him, but most days he has next to nothing to do with him.  Their relationship is usually better when they spend more one-on-one time together.  If I'm out of the picture he'll go to DH because he has to.


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#6 of 14 Old 10-31-2011, 06:19 AM
 
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I've noticed my kids are always closer to dh after they've spent time together. Can you take an afternoon "off", leave, & let them spend some time with each other?
Also, both of my kids have alternated "favorites". Sometimes it's me, sometimes dh.
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#7 of 14 Old 10-31-2011, 06:27 AM
 
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My son was like that more as an infant and toddler.  Now as a 3.5 year old, he looks to DH and I for different needs.  For instance, I tend to be the one he looks to for comfort (which has been the case from the beginning), but he looks to daddy when he wants to have a really good time playing, joking, etc.  I don't think it is odd that your daughter has a preference at this age, and I wouldn't take it personally if I was your husband.  A lot can change in time. 

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#8 of 14 Old 10-31-2011, 06:44 AM
 
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your situation is not out of the normal range. ur dd is at the age when many kids show a sign of preference for a parent. 

 

during her happiest period of day, if she is willing i'd involve dad in taking her out for a father dd time as pps have adviced. 

 

also if he can be involved in one regular caregiving aspect that would be great, like giving her a bath, or reading her a story or serving ehr and helping her with dinner.

 

even with 'happy' families i have seen that dynamic - esp. if the father is not really involved in ANY caregiving.

 

my mom used to tell us that my dad worked a lot and came home late during the weekdays. but on weekends he became the primary parent. doing everything during the weekend for his kids. 


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#9 of 14 Old 11-01-2011, 04:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I'm definitely glad to see it's not out of the 'normal range'

As I tried to say before, I try not to let our bickering get in the way of any progress they could make.

He does work long hours, usually he's gone around 12 hours, maybe more... He sleeps alot in the evenings and in the afternoons even on weekends! It's frustrating...

Sometimes he will take her out, like this past sunday for a little bit in the evenings but usually only if I have a big test or paper due for school (or both! like last Sunday). I'd like him to do it more but I don't always have the energy for organizing/helping pack for him to take her out for a couple of hours, and that's usually what it takes (I know, I've tried). 

I secretly think he does take it personally and I will try harder to get him to see that it is not.

Although now he has switched to blaming me.

I literally just talked with him this morning and he believes that it's because I've stepped in when he was "putting his foot down" He believes she is essentially telling on him in hopes that I will come to her rescue. I know he feels that stepping in over him is wrong but if she's screaming/crying/really uspet that she doesn't want to sit in her chair to eat then I'm going to let her down until she's ready to eat! I've read that you shouldn't make a battle out of eating with your toddler and as picky eater I can commiserate... I don't know what to do, I was trying to gain some insight to help them but he won't listen to my advice if he thinks I'm the root of the problem.

Any advice for living with a childish man, lol?

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#10 of 14 Old 11-01-2011, 03:27 PM
 
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this happens in our family and both of us work, so its not even that you are with her "more" necessarily, although that probably contributes. my almost 4 yo still prefers me for bedtime stories and if she's hurt or sad, but now that I'm pregnant again (especially since I had pretty bad morning sickness in the beginning) we would very often say "daddy's reading stories tonight" and she might fuss about it a bit or need to get an extra hug from me after stories, but mostly she adjusted well.

 

As for helping to make it better, next time he brings it up, talk about how the two of them should have more "together, alone" time and maybe make plans where you'll be out of the house (even if its for like grocery shopping or something) and he doesn't have a choice but to take care of her. And don't go crazy "getting things ready". If he forgets things, its not the end of the world and he'll learn for the next time.

 

Also, i just took this "coparenting" workshop, and one of the main points they made was that mom's and dad's inherently have different parenting styles and each of you have to try really hard not to undermine the other (one of the main reasons I took this workshop is because I feel like my dh and I are so different on some things!) So if you don't like how he handles something, sort of let it play out and then talk about it later when your daughter isn't around/paying attention. I have a hard time with this but I'm working on it...and I try to think about ways that we handle things differently and bring them up at calm times, like totally unassociated with a specific incident, to explain why I handle things the way I do. Sometimes he agrees and sometimes he doesn't, but at least we know that we see things differently and why ;)

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#11 of 14 Old 11-02-2011, 06:10 AM
 
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This happens in my household too -- even though DH & I generally get along well and DH is home all day with us because he was laid off last year! You'd think he & DS (2.5yo) would be best buds by now. But DS is just really sensitive. He's the kind of kid you need to walk on eggshells around because any little thing can set off his anxiety/fears/anger/etc. But DS & I are a lot alike & really really in tune & interact together intuitively so it's smoother going. DH, on the other hand, needs to LEARN how to interact with him and it's just much more of a process for him and he irritates (and even scares) DS by the way he says & does things. IDK. It's heartbreaking to see DS running away from DH & stuff, because DH tries so hard & really loves him. DH just isn't very good at reading subtle cues (even in his adult relationships DH struggles with this). I do notice things are best between them when they can just play together... like DS wants me for caretaking (diapering/pottying, washing, feeding, sleeping) but he often does OK with playing with DH. We don't really comply with that preference unless he's really stressed out or having a hard day though. It's hard to hear him cry when he'd do the same thing tearlessly with me, but we want him to learn that DH can take care of him and all, so I try my best not to 'rescue' DS. Sometimes the problem isn't even that he doesn't want DH -- just that he really wants me. It's a struggle & I haven't really seen this happen with others -- I know most toddlers have a preference for one parent or the other but DS has taken it to the extreme. But I thought it might help you to know that we have a similar issue even though we have completely opposite circumstances.

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#12 of 14 Old 11-02-2011, 06:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

My son was like that more as an infant and toddler.  Now as a 3.5 year old, he looks to DH and I for different needs.  For instance, I tend to be the one he looks to for comfort (which has been the case from the beginning), but he looks to daddy when he wants to have a really good time playing, joking, etc.  I don't think it is odd that your daughter has a preference at this age, and I wouldn't take it personally if I was your husband.  A lot can change in time. 



Yeah, this.

 

My DD is a "daddys girl"...from a young age, that's just been her buddy. My son, on the other hand, was born saying "mama", I swear! Maybe not born...but, you know....he is all up in mama, all day long. Can't get enough. At first, he really didn't like DH to touch him much and would shy away from him, cry if DH picked him up, etc. Now, at two, we're starting to notice that dada is becoming a real buddy to him. When he wakes up in the morning and comes out to see us...who he hugs and kisses hello first seems to depend entirely upon who he is closest to. Things like that. He seems to really be breaking out of his "mama tunnel vision"  - and to be honest, this really seems to be as a result of the fact that DS has recently weaned himself from the breast. It makes me sad that he doesn't want to nurse anymore, but he has started to really pay attention to other people and things that he just didn't care about before....and one of those things, is Dada.

 

So, yeah....I think that she could be picking up on your vibes, kids are really very intelligent when it comes to things like this and even if your vibes aren't, like, in your face hostility toward DH...she could be picking up on the subtle hints she senses you dropping that things are great with him or that you don't trust/love/like/whatever him.

 

But I also think that it is entirely possible that it's a normal developmental thing for her. I just know TONS of kids who were like this and then sometime between two and five grew out of it. I have one friend who has a son who, as of a year ago, wouldn't let dada do ANYTHING with him....no dressing him, shoes, pushing his stroller...and forget about Dada even LOOKING at the kid if he was tired or upset about something. Then, one day, he just started playing with his Dad and having fun with him and onw he's a four year old with a really close relationship to both parents!

 

Keep your head up, keep encouraging things (but don't force too much), work on your own relationship with DH and I bet you six months to a year from now things will be way different.


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#13 of 14 Old 11-02-2011, 07:09 AM
 
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We went through this for a bit.  However since DH is home with them all the time now it's pretty rare that they ever pick me over him.  They have specific needs from us.  I'm the fun one and he's the care taker.  I really like it this way.  I still help with bathes and homework but for the most part I get to be exactly who I want to be in their lives.  Maybe you guys could work on making him the fun one.  I know that sounds kind of ridiculous but at that age the see things in black and white.  He could do something like sit on the floor and color by himself or play with her toys by himself and she just might come over to see what he's doing.  She might even get in on it.  Just an idea.

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#14 of 14 Old 11-06-2011, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Meant to check back here sooner but early last week I fell sick, then DD then Dh. I spent all day catching up clogged school work. You get the idea :)


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

We went through this for a bit.  However since DH is home with them all the time now it's pretty rare that they ever pick me over him.  They have specific needs from us.  I'm the fun one and he's the care taker.  I really like it this way.  I still help with bathes and homework but for the most part I get to be exactly who I want to be in their lives.  Maybe you guys could work on making him the fun one.  I know that sounds kind of ridiculous but at that age the see things in black and white.  He could do something like sit on the floor and color by himself or play with her toys by himself and she just might come over to see what he's doing.  She might even get in on it.  Just an idea.

 I just wanted to say right on! I also like being the fun one. DD can be seriouse (for an 21mo) and I love, love, love to liven things up when I can. I think that is somewhat rare(?) in family dynamics.

 

I really appreciate all the feedback. This was my first post and maybe I posted too hastily (read as emotionaly). I believe I came off sounding like we are horrific fighters and that's just not the case. Seriously, I know turtle doves who fight with more vigor than we do most days. Our situation isn't ideal but who's is? It used to really get under my skin(and live there) but I have been doing some 'deep cleansing' lately and I think I'm getting it mostly under control.

I believe it is important for DD to have a solid relationship with her father for her own mental health and well being. He's not a horrible guy, we actually agree on a lot of things, like BF, BfIP, CD, ect... it's just I think he is settling into some more 'traditional' mindsets as he gets older and it is affecting the relationship that he could have with DD. He actually told me that he didn't get that he wasn't playing with her until @ 2 mos. ago and she's almost two now! It isn't for lack of my trying though. I think some ppl just take it for granted that they are always going to have a good relationship with their kids. Since I know that's not always true I want to make sure I make an effort, while some ppl are content to not put forth any effort their whole lives.

Now that I know this isn't some freak thing, I'm honestly not worried about it at all. I know that we, as a family, will get by just fine. I'll continue to work on my and DD's relationship, stay out of the way and DH will get back whatever effort he decides he's ready to put in.

 

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