daughter worried about me and i am worried about her!

(20 Posts)
lizzie479 Mon 31-Dec-12 22:16:02

Hi there, my DD is nearly four and since her daddy left two and a half months ago she has been relatively okay. That is until the last couple of weeks. She keeps asking if daddy can come for a 'sleep over' at ours. She has woken in the night screaming and had to be calmed down by myself. She also broke down today after I told her off for not sharing with her brother and started crying that she just wants to make me happy. She has been trying really hard to be grown up and help with my chores, which I praise her for. Then she starts to misbehave and test the boundaries which I then discipline her for. I am trying very hard to be a good parent and get it right but how can I be happy? I am pretending to be happy but I am stressed to the max. She is also reluctant to talk about her feelings about the split when I ask her how she feels. I don't know how to handle this. Does nayone have similar experiences?

Piemother Tue 01-Jan-13 00:44:34

Oh bless you. Part of it is her age anyway especially the boundary pushing. Try not to sweat the small stuff and if you think she is suffering emotionally let most of her misdemeanours go or at least just explain calmly what the problem is and try not to shout. Easier than it sound I know as I am trying extremely hard with this now.
Wrt the sleepovers? Dies she have consultant contact with her dad?

lizzie479 Wed 02-Jan-13 21:48:55

Thanks piemother. Yes she does have regular contact with her dad but only two sleepovers in the last three months. She came back from her sleepover today having the mother of all tantrums but it only lasted about two mins???
I am trying hard not to shout and am finding this easier to do especially as she responds well when I treat her well (ie following the supernanny regime)
Thanks for saying try not to sweat the small stuff, it means a lot. How are you?

browniebear Wed 02-Jan-13 22:08:07

Hi I have a similar experience but my dd is older, she's 8 now and was 7 when me and her dad split. She's always been very mature for her age and understood more than she should about some things. I think she tries to put on a brave face and her teacher at school spoke to me on parents evening about how dd tends to worry about things that an 8 yr old shouldn't. She's over helpful at home sometimes when she knows me and her dad haven't been getting on (which is very hard to hide from dc's sometimes).
How's the relationship with you and your ex?

lizzie479 Wed 02-Jan-13 22:27:06

hi brownie bear. My relationship with my ex is non-existant/hostile. He is angry with me and won't spend more than two seconds in my company. This is progress though as before he was screaming/shouting at me at drop offs/pick ups and over the phone, this stopped when I threatened legal action.

I think my daughter also tries to put on a brave face. She worries about me and is too aware of grown up problems even though I try to hide most things from her. She still seems to know I am unhappy.

I wish she could have the perfect family, she deserves it. I feel gutted to have let her down and make her grow up so quickly.

browniebear Wed 02-Jan-13 22:36:57

I know what you mean about letting her down I feel like that sometimes when I see other family's all together I get a sad feeling that maybe I could of done more but the truth is its not your fault and eventually you will feel better. I think I'd much rather be happy just me and the dc's than them have mum and dad together but arguing all the time and pretending to be happy.

Me and my ex argued at every exchange for about the first 6 months, most phone conversations ended with me in tears and my dc's were obviously seeing this. I know your supposed to not let them see but it's soo hard to be shouted at and totally not respond.

It will get better and your dd will get used to this new situation. My ds is 2.7 so hopefully will be less affected and won't remember what it was like when we all lived together like my dd does. She remembers our bloody wedding and went through a phase of talking about it ALL the timeconfused

NicknameTaken Thu 03-Jan-13 12:32:37

You might consider not pretending to be happy when you're not. I'm not suggesting that you cry on her shoulder, but you're giving her the message that she has to put a false front on. Feelings can be acknowledged.

When my dd was the same age (although the split was not so fresh at the time), one thing she really liked was when we would sing "My daddy lies over the ocean" (to the tune of "my bonnie lies over the ocean" and very loudly and mournfully wail "oh bring BACK, oh bring BACK, oh bring BACK my DADDY to ME"). She loved this and we used to do it a lot. It was so cathartic that she would begin really sadly and then end up laughing. It sounds silly, but it helped articulate her feelings in a way that allowed her to still feel in control.

What happened is sad, even if it's for the best. It's okay to feel sad and to express it rather than bury it.

cestlavielife Thu 03-Jan-13 12:56:17

child psych recoemdned this to me - it is useful -"how to tlk..." if a bit american
www.amazon.co.uk/Talk-Kids-Will-Listen-Child/dp/1853407054

thing is to let her get angry acnowledge her pain.
let her epxpress it play with dolls etc teddies let her play making houses one for daddy one for mummy etc and show a doll going between the two , let her know its ok to feel cross and angry and ask what would help feel; better eg running around garden jumping on trampoline?

maybe make a lsit with her by drawning of what makes her feel happy put on wall and refer to it when she feeling sad let her choose what she wants from that list ? (make sure its achieveable things!)

it is early days for you but see what support there is for you locally eg seprated groups etc and it gets to interfering with her daily life ask gp for referral to a play therapist

cestlavielife Thu 03-Jan-13 13:03:43

also dont ask her "how do you feel"? but rather sit on floor and play games with her eg using teddies or dolls or do drawings with her. probably using teddies and dolls will work more - at her age - she might represent daddy mummy her etc and show you how she feels thru them. do you ahve two dolls houese or get two boxes to represent mummy and dad's houses and show the teddies going between teh two etc ask her what teddy wants to do, etc let it play out in role play...

or use the puppet technique so get a pupper which talks to her and says "i am sad i dont live with daddy any more, but sometimes i go see daddy and that makes me happy" and see what she she says that kind of thing.

lizzie479 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:50:20

thankyou cest la vie and nickname taken. I have tried the ideas you suggested this afternoon. My daughter was keen to play so that was good but she didnt open up or give me any insight into how she is feeling. I think its a good idea and place to start though so thanks. browniebear you seem to be in a similar position to me. I hope it is all working out better for you ladies? Do you all find it hard financially? Are you more positive about things now?

NicknameTaken Fri 04-Jan-13 10:02:17

Yes, things are definitely better in my house. It does get a lot easier! Financially it would be okay if my ex didn't keep dragging me back to court over child residence. Once a prat, always a prat, alas.

Don't expect you will necessarily get some dramatic moment of breakthrough when she says she feels a certain way. You're just trying to create an environment when she is "allowed" to feel however she feels - nothing is taboo or needs to be hidden. If you can work towards this emotional openess (and people's characters vary so you don't need to force it either), the payoff comes on those days when the joy comes back and you end up dancing around the place and singing.

<hmm, I sound like a new-age guru, but it's been true in my life>

browniebear Fri 04-Jan-13 13:10:09

Yeah financially things are hard, I've just gone back to work after being on benefits since he moved out so it's all a bit up in the air at the minute.

I had to use the CSA to get maintenance from exH and we go through the deduction of earnings but he changed jobs in November so they haven't been able to reasses him since then. Haven't had anything from him since then so it's been tricky over Xmas as I rely on his maintenance. The benefits paid all the bills but I was left with about £40 a week. Hopefully working ill be better off and it helps to meet new people and not be 'just mummy' all the time.

Are you working? And coping financially?

lizzie479 Fri 04-Jan-13 20:10:20

Hi Brownie bear. I am not working and am on benefits and feel crap about it. It makes me really sad and angry to realise this is where I am now at in my late 30's. I gave up my career to have children because of his job and moving around. How long were you on benefits for? I am coping financially (just) but can't replace any of the cronky old things we own which are all on their last legs and about to give up the ghost. Ah well, I am earnestly looking for work but permemant part time seems hard to come by as I have been looking and applying for a while now. Have you managed to get a social life? I could really do with going out on a date, my self esteem has taken a knocking.

lizzie479 Fri 04-Jan-13 20:13:01

Nickname taken that sounds awful that your ex keeps dragging you to court. That must be so draining for you emotionally and financially. How long does it take to get easier? Thanks for your tips btw smile

browniebear Fri 04-Jan-13 21:15:14

About 18 months I think, I did voluntary work at school 2 days a week but I've been doing that since ds was born and it helped to keep to a routine of seeing other people. I found it hard too and there is a stigma attached to single mums on benefits that exists. (Jezza watching chain smoking shouting at your kids type) that's what it's like where I live anyway.
I'm lucky I have good friends, some single and some not so I just try and get out at the weekends while dc's are at dads. Even if its just round for a film and food. I tried dating briefly but it's tricky, if you meet other single men that have kids they usually have theirs when you don't.
It will get better and your setting a much better example to your dd by being strong enough to be alone than staying with someone who makes you miserable.

NicknameTaken Sat 05-Jan-13 18:39:53

It's three and a half years since I left my ex. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when it gets better - it happened so gradually that I can't say when. But I definitely feel I'm over it now. Having steered clear of men until now, I've even decided to give internet dating a go!

The court stuff is pretty awful financially, but I've got the stage where I'm just bored of agonizing over it. I do the preparation, I pay the solicitor's bills (in installments) and I just get on with things. Apart from the odd wobble, when I calculate how much longer I'll be in debt for.

I really sympathize with the career hit - I do have a job, although it's not that satisfying or well-paid, but I'm based in a town where there aren't many possibilities of taking my career forward and I feel I have to stay here to give DD some continuity and so she can still spend time with her father. I didn't mind being broke and trying to get a foot on the career ladder in my early 20s, but it's somehow a lot more discouraging in my late 30s. On the other, I love having lots of one-on-one time with DD and I don't want to wish this time away.

lizzie479 Sun 06-Jan-13 21:22:15

brownie bear and nickname taken you sound lovely. I wish we could meet up as I don't know any single mums (apart from my two sisters who are much older and have both met someone else and settled down now). Seems to be a family trait sad
Nickname taken I hope internet dating works out well for you! I am in my late 30's too and feel somewhat discouraged having to 'start again' with everything. I still miss my ex, wish I didn't.
Thanks brownie bear for saying it will get better. I thought I was setting a better example for my daughter as my ex used to throw tantrums and shout a lot but then I seem to let all the pressure build up in me now and shout at her which I did not do before the split. Brownie bear have you met anyone special yet? I never thought of that but of course its obvious that any single dad will have his children at weekends when us mums are free.
Did either of you have any regrets post split? Do you feel happier now?

NicknameTaken Mon 07-Jan-13 10:47:38

Thanks! I agree it helps a lot to know another single mum that you like and respect. I sometimes get the impression that the other mums at school take a mental step back when I mention the situation (although I might be over-sensitive). But I have one good friend who is not with the father of her child, and it's been great. She has since met someone and is pregnant again and I miss her a bit but I'm also happy for her.

I also get inspiration from various mn posters who enjoy being single, and who are wise and witty about relationships.

We'll see about this internet dating. On the one hand, I'm trying not to get my hopes up - mostly I like the independence of being single. But no harm looking.

No regrets abut the split and yes, definitely happier.

About the shouting, I know where you're coming from. I try to be clear with DD when I'm feeling the pressure building up, and tell her it's not her fault. Children quickly pick up on unspoken tension and play up to it. Much better to acknowledge it. You're on the same side, you and her.

lizzie479 Tue 08-Jan-13 20:33:05

I agree, I am meeting up with a couple of single mums this weekend that I have been introduced to. It will hopefully help having someone to talk to in the same position.
You are right about being on the same side with my daughter although it does not feel like it at the moment. She is playing up big time! She won't go to bed on time anymore, she does not listen and answers back. And she has also started wetting herself. I just cannot do any better than I am doing but I am already exhausted! Have someone coming from homestart tomorrow as I don't have any family nearby to help.
If you give internet dating a go and it works let me know smile

NicknameTaken Wed 09-Jan-13 13:13:28

Will let you know if it works!

It's great that you're getting help from homestart - hope it makes a difference. It sounds tough with your dd, but it will get better, honest.

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