I posted this in the Toddlers section but thought I would post it here too, as this question really needs a Dad's perspective.
Dd has always been a Mommy's girl, but its getting to the point where dh is really getting depressed about it. If I leave, she goes into a screaming fit. Even if I am in the house but she is playing with dh, after 15 minutes or 1/2 hour she is asking for Mommy. She's 20 months now and everyone has been telling dh not to worry, she'll come around, it's a stage, but he is getting really discouraged. He's even starting to blame it on the fact that I still breastfeed, although previously he had been very supportive of breastfeeding.
Some background: I'm a WAHM, so I am with dd all the time. She is not a particularly clingy kid, plays beautifully by herself, is cheerful and sweet and generally a joy to be around (a good thing, since she won't be cared for by anyone else -- if she were a difficult child I would probably be going nuts by now!) We have a wonderful relationship. Dh loves her to distraction but is the type who isn't quite sure what to do with a small child and is nervous about caring for her. He's very good at playing with her however and she really enjoys him. She talks about him during the day and likes calling him at work to talk. But then when he walks in the door, ready for a big hug and a kiss, she yells "NO" and runs for me. Poor dh!
Sometimes I worry that it is because dh has an explosive temper -- he's working very hard to control it -- but has lost it handful of times in front of her. He would never get violent or curse, but he does yell and he looks scary. I don't know if a few times is enough for her to be uncomfortable with him. Also, I should add that we have extended family living with us -- dh's cousin and a young woman friend -- who are very gentle but dd won't accept them either. I once left her with the young woman for two days for about 6 hours each day and she acted traumatized by it for WEEKS afterwards.
So, if you've made it this far... help! Is there anything I can tell dh to comfort him???? Is there anything he can do? Anything I can do? We're planning on weaning her soon, do you think that will change the situation? (He thinks it will but I am skeptical.) Any advice? Stories? Anything???
Thanks so much everyone!
I cannot think of much that is worse than feeling left out from your own family.
I think there might be a couple issues here. First, what kind of relationship do you project with your husband. Is there any chance that your interactions with him reflect some of the kinds of behaviors that your husband is sensing in your daughter?
Second, do you include your dh in family activities like snuggling, sitting together just looking at each other and talking, maybe sipping a warm beverage and talking about the day?
Third, does your dh partake in all the other duties of raising his daughter? There is much more than bfeeding. I remember hearing that I would feel jealous of not being able to breastfeed. However it did not take long to realize that there is so much more than feeding and, in fact, to put it politely, I feel somewhat relieved not to have that responsibility as well as all the others. Plus at 20 mos, I imagine there is plenty of food to prepare and spoon into her mouth.
Finally, 20mo old kids can be like that and are completely normal. I bet in the future, you will be the odd-woman-out at times when your dd wants nothing but dad.
I completely understand! This happened to me with my dh when my son was just about that age. It would really hurt my husbands feelings when he would come home from work and my son would run to me or when he would try to put him to bed and my son would scream for mommy. I also stay home with my kids so they are with me pretty much all the time. My husband works and also is better than me at enforcing the rules so maybe that had something to do with it. What worried me most was that my husband would just give up on him - that he would stop trying to be close with our son. I mean how many times can a person take rejection without at some point your heart hardening towards the one who is rejecting you? What I did that seemed to help was find articles, e-mail posts (even some from here) , stories from friends, etc. that reinforced the fact that this was totally normal toddler behavior and I would casually read them to my husband, not preaching at him - just like I was making conversation. A friend at my Church was telling me that her daughter would have a complete fit if she had to stay at home with her daddy while her mommmy went out. When I told my husband it really did seem to make him feel better. I also asked him to please remember that we are the parents and our son was not even two years old. We can't parent based on reciprocated love. There will be plenty of times in the next 20 years that our children will resent us but we will love them anyway and continue to make decisions based upon what we hope is best for them. We must allow them to go through all of the developmental phases that we went through ( even the annoying and difficult ones) while we, ourselves remain constant, consistent, and loving. My son is now nearly three and pretty much through the "just mommy" phase. We survived it and in fact forgot about how difficult it was until I was reminded by your post. It's amazing how time solves so much! Hang in there and don't forget - This too shall pass!
Thanks for your responses! Papabliss, I don't think I am projecting any bad vibes about dh to dd. I mean I get mad at him sometimes, but who doesn't? I certainly don't bring dd into it when I am mad. On the whole we have a really good relationship. He does participate in the cuddle/playtimes. Our nighttime routine is that we all pile on the bed and they play for 1/2 hour or so. Then she nurses and drifts off to sleep while dh and I talk. During the day I talk to her about daddy and sing songs about how much we both love her. So I believe I do what I can to support their relationship. Dh has never said that he thinks that I undermine their relationship in any way, just that he thinks the breastfeeding makes it an uneven playing field -- he can't compete with the breast.
As for being involved in her other care... well, sporadically. It's not the sort of thing he would naturally do by himself. He's the eldest son of an Asian family and has 5 younger sisters, so you can bet he never did any childcare/cooking/cleaning when he was a kid! His model was that it was all women's work. That said, he knows intellectually that he should be involved so if I suggest it (honey, why don't you take her up and get her ready for bed?) then he tries but recently she's been resisting it and he gets discouraged and gives up. Like what you said, Junestar!
Well, your stories are encouraging. I do tell him that it is just a phase but probably he won't believe it until she outgrows it herself. They are out at the park right now, so he's still hanging in there, working on bonding with her. Hopefully she'll accept him soon.
DH is the adult -- he shouldn't be concerned about this. It *is* a stage. In fact, now my son (2) is my shadow, and my daughter is 'daddy's little girl' through and through, she's out and out SAID he was her favorite!
But since I am an adult, I don't take it personally. She loves me too, and tells me and shows me. Just like my son loves him, even if he screams and wails when I go to the supermarket and he stays home with dad!
Sure, sometimes my children (at least my daughter) will accuse one of us of loving the other sibling more (usually when not getting their own way), but again, that is the behavior of a child. An adult SHOULD be able to stand back and understand that children are different.
I know that sounds like a harsh criticism, but I think its true. I've honestly never heard of a parent complaining when they weren't the favorite. I've heard jokes about it, but never anyone actually CONCERNED about normal childhood behavior.
This is so timely for me. My La Leche league group is holding a couples meeting (for valentine's day) and THIS is exactly the topic we'll be discussing.
My point of view, as the mother of a girl who vacillates rapidly between the 2 of us, is that this too will pass... but that's hard to hear when you're in the middle of such a conflict. Thanks for all the wisdom. Guess I'll see what's going on over the toddler forum too.
(Printing out replies...)
My dd is 26 mos. and does this type of thing too. She pushes dh away when he is giving her a "good night" hug and kiss, and tells him to "go away and let me nurse mommy." Sometimes she hurts him, hitting or pinching. He's been dealing with it by making their own special bed time games- they have a "good night, I love you" song, and she chooses what kind of hug or kiss she gets ( loud, quiet, kitty, lion, silly, wiggly, "sweet dreams" et c.)
I think that as the little ones start to feel more independent, and find themselves coming out of situations where they were engrossed without mommy's direct participation, they get a little more insecure when they stop and think about it. Probably, expecting them to go play with daddy right away is not quite fair, but they will definately choose daddy when they realize that he is ready to give them lots of attention, especially if mommy is needing "mommy time" (a concept that we have introduced at our house. It can also be daddy or Ana time)
Ds is almost 26 months now and he's the same way. Some days it's worse than others, while some days he will even forget all about mommy for a while. I think I could be putting out subconcsious messages that Daddy's not a part of "us" because I sometimes feel that way, even though I always promote him to ds. I've observed that he's lovable toward dh at times when all three of us are playing together, but other times he's more lovable when I'm out of the picture. He's usually screaming jealous of dh showing me affection. I think it's just the age.
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