Bad dreams and a clash of parenting styles

(17 Posts)
Queenoftheharpies Mon 28-Jan-13 12:46:28

My 3yo, is, on the whole a really good sleeper, but lately he's been waking up a lot in the night, complaining about scary dreams.

My OH has started getting up in the night to deal with him, which after one go at settling him down usually involves telling him not to be so noisy and generally telling him off. Usually he's better at getting him to settle than I am.

Last night was really bad though - he was awake crying for me for hours, saying he was scared and OH just kept going and administering bollockings.

It was really upsetting me - to the point that I started crying, but didn't want to undermine OH, who maintains that me going in to DS's room is a reward and he 'takes the piss'.

I just felt really sorry for the poor little guy. He was clearly frightened, we all had a crap night's sleep. I'd have much preferred to go and give cuddles, maybe lose a couple of hours sleep but we'd all be happier.

OH thinks this will make DS more likely to wake in the night and that basically I will be DS's nighttime bitch for ever.

I don't see having scary dreams as being a disciplinary / behaviour issue. In my opinion, it's not naughty for a 3 year old to wake up in the night wanting a cuddle. It might not be the behaviour you want, long term, but it's not a telling-off offence.

OH and I are at odds over this. We try to work as a team and be consistent, but I just think he's going about this the wrong way.

Iggly Mon 28-Jan-13 12:52:24

Yes your DH is being an arse quite frankly. I feel disgusted reading that and I would have stopped him the first time and stepped in and taken over.

This is normal 3 year old behaviour. They get scared of the dark. Telling them off won't make the fear go away.

Tell your DH to do some reading or speak to other parents to get a reality check.

Also you look after your boy at night. The sooner you give him reassurance and respect his feelings, the sooner he will feel secure and will stop waking.

Your poor boy.

Iggly Mon 28-Jan-13 12:53:14

BTW I have a three year old boy!

AndMiffyWentToSleep Mon 28-Jan-13 19:10:07

I have a similar clash of styles - my DS is only a year old but apparently he needs to learn to be on his own (when crying because he is tired/hungry/upset) and should learn that crying will only lead to more tears as it IS a battle and daddy will 'win'.

No solutions here, I'm afraid, but I understand how awful it is.

Iggly Mon 28-Jan-13 19:28:52

<shakes head> a one year old? Man alive. How can your DH be engaged in a power battle with a mere baby? A baby that wants security.

You both should be challenging your partners on their approaches.

1charlie1 Mon 28-Jan-13 19:34:53

Poor you! I remember having a recurring nightmare (I have even had it as an adult) as a very small child, and being frightened to go in to my parents, because they would be cross. I would crouch freezing in the hallway next to the bathroom, praying someone would need to go to the toilet i.e. I wouldn't have woken them up, so I wouldn't get in trouble, and they would let me into their bed.
Being cross about nightmares is seriously lacking in empathy, (and I'm sure my parents' attitude is the reason I still have this bloody dream occasionally!)
Please comfort your son, his imagination is growing, and he needs some reassurance. He will grow out of it.

Iggly Mon 28-Jan-13 19:36:45

Oh 1charlie that's so sad sad

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 28-Jan-13 19:40:41

Oh gosh if it goes in again of course you can go in. Its far more important that your child knows that mummy will be there for him than any united front with dad.

Queenoftheharpies Mon 28-Jan-13 20:59:14

Thanks all.

Not been on here for ages, (actually since becoming a mum! and DS is 3) and had forgotten how ace MN is.

I still remember being little and scared and seeing horrible faces in the flowery curtain patterns and being scared that the central heating noises was actually a horrible pirate with a wooden leg clunking up the stairs to get me. I remember my parents being endlessly patient about be waking them up and obviously I want that for DS - I want him to have those memories, not the kind that 1charlie1's got.

I resent being cast as a soft touch though. It's not like I don't apply sanctions when they're needed and, if DS is taking the piss (e.g. demanding a story at 4am) then he gets told it's not going to happen. Children pick up on these things and if OH is casting me as being the one whose discipline somehow doesn't count, then it's only going to make life difficult for me.

I should probably have put this on AIBU, shouldn't I?

HumphreyCobbler Mon 28-Jan-13 21:02:10

your DS will recognised you as a mother who reassures him when he is frightenened, not as a soft touch.

Lostonthemoors Mon 28-Jan-13 21:03:56

I would just go to him as pp have said

Iggly Mon 28-Jan-13 21:06:26

How is giving your child reassurance being a soft touch? hmm

He's 3. Give him a cuddle, get him back into bed. No stories that's fine but you can be there for him.

twoboyslater Mon 28-Jan-13 21:10:01

I agree with the rest of the girls; your OH is being a bit of a douche.
I have the same with my OH, he's the bad cop and I'm the good cop- as long as DS isn't taking the piss- if my boy isn't settled, I will stay with him until he is.
If you feel it's really necessary (and it must be, if it's reduced you to tears) id go in there anyway and settle him. Moms always know what's right for their kids smile

I would love to know how anyone deliberately wakes themselves up hmm?

At 3 I would be going in and giving reassuring cuddles and calming him but then leaving him to go back to sleep when appropriate iyswim? Pretty much the same as everyone else has said!

Queenoftheharpies Wed 30-Jan-13 08:53:45

So - night before last, a brilliant night's sleep. Last night, DS up at 4am shouting for me to get in bed with him (not him get in bed with us, that's not allowed because nobody gets a night's sleep then). And while I probably shouldn't do that, I don't mind getting in with him because the bed's got a frame round it and it's difficult to cuddle otherwise, without either getting him out of bed which seems worse or sitting on the floor in a really awkward way.

He went back to sleep pretty quickly and other than a bit of chuntering woke up at 7.30 (which is also against OH's rules which says he's not allowed to get up til 8 - parents with toddlers who get up at 5am every day may want to comment on this).

OH needed to be out the house at 8.30 so I thought I might as well cut my losses and get DS dressed and breakfasted with some time to have a few minutes play - and he was an abject villain, wouldn't get dressed, wouldn't eat, wouldn't do anything. I've manhandled him into his clothes / high chair / shoes / coat and generally been bad cop. OH is still in bed at this point. DS has done nothing but complain and refuse to do as he's told.

And yet somehow all this bad cop is not enough for OH who is still chuntering about me being soft and how DS doesn't wake at night when I'm away (he doesn't wake up in the night when OH is away either, so what?) undermining me in front of DS, not that he understands now, but he will soon enough.

I could cheerfully punch OH in the face right now and send both him and DS to live on an island somewhere. Let them go and live in OH's model disciplinarian paradise and I will stay here and drink gin.

Startail Wed 30-Jan-13 09:15:22

Please tell your DH from me that he is being a idiot.

Small and not so small DCs have bad dreams.
Just because your DS is 3 and can't explain them like an older child doesn't make the fears less real.

DS needs waking up properly and a hug. You should find that he then goes back to sleep pretty easily because he wasn't playing up and actually wants to be asleep.

I used to tuck DD2 up and tell her to imagine riding the white horse on her poster and go back to sleep imaging the wind in her hair and the warm sun. I'm sure your DS has something he likes and can dream about.

Shouting at DC who wake in the night doesn't work. I've yelled at DDs for wetting the bed, they just do it again the next night blush having not done for months.

Yes it's temping to be grumpy in the middle of the night, but it doesn't help.

Fuzzymum1 Wed 30-Jan-13 12:09:03

My 6yo still has bad dreams and whichever one of us wakes first goes to him and cuddles him - it's probably only a couple of times a month now but even when it was several times a week we did the same.

Your son needs the reasurrance and you are definitely not being soft in making him feel secure - your husband is being very old fashioned in dealing with fear in such a way.

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