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Help needed urgently please

(24 Posts)
growler Mon 17-Feb-03 10:57:42

I've changed my name for this one, because I'm really embarrassed. I'd be really really grateful for some help from some WISE ladies out there, or at least ones who have known wisdom occasionally!!!!
I have two dd's - one is 4, one is nearly 2.
I've recently moved house and gone back to work 2 days after about 8 months of being a full time mum.
My dh is very very supportive and helpful when he is around. He very much loves the girls and is great fun with them. BUT he is away a lot(actor)
and our roles are definitely quite traditional.
My eldest d is totally in love with dh and when he is around she just wants to be with him, not with me or with her sister. I find this very difficult, not least because I too want to be with my dh, and I also want us to be a family on the rare occasions when we are together!
My older dd really knows that it upsets me and I think this obviously encourages her. She has started talking about dh all the time when he is not there, which drives me insane, moaning about his absence, saying she only loves him, asking incessantly when he is coming back.
Now I KNOW what my response SHOULD be - cool and collected, and unaffected. But unfortunately I find this utterly impossible. I get genuinely upset that she seems to favour him when I am the one who looks after her all the time. I resent the fact that he can play with them when he is around without thinking about housework, cooking, organising doctor's apopintments, organising nursery, playgroup, friends, birthdays, etc. (how immature is that? I know!),I then resent him then for swanning off all over the place doing shows and still being the most loved, and generally it is making my relationship with dd and dh very difficult.
At the weekend, just as we were waiting for some guests to arrive, we had a spectacular showdown about it, and I found myself behaving like a complete baby, going off in a hissy fit and threatening to leave the family. I mean, please.
I then spent the day in complete disbelief that I had let it get to me to that extent.

I fear setting up damaging patterns, I fear my own sanity, I fear jeopardising the relationship with my dd and my dh.

Please, wise women, help!

Lindy Mon 17-Feb-03 11:36:48

Growler - I wish I could offer some constructive advice but I am sure if you re-read your own message you know you are right in that you must stay 'cool, calm & unaffected' - do you really want to allow a 4 year old to dominate your life?. You know you can't 'reason' with a 4 year old so why not just try agreeing with her ' yes, Daddy is wonderful, what are you going to do with him when he gets back, why don't you draw some pictures for him' etc etc.

Perhaps you could plan some treats for YOURSELF when DH is back, something you can do on your own or just with DD2 - then DD1 will know that you too are fun person. Easier said than done I'm sure but try not to let DD2 manipulate the situation, as you say, she knows what she is doing & has the power to wind you up even more. Yes, it's a tough situation but the reverse could be a really clingy child ...... I know which I'd prefer.

sobernow Mon 17-Feb-03 12:03:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

janh Mon 17-Feb-03 12:05:34

growler, I'm not exactly sure of the age/stage but I know there is one, and I think it's 3-6, where girls are in love with their daddies and boys with their mummies - it's one of the separation stages they are supposed to go through. Obviously the degree differs and you have got a tough one - has she inherited the dramatic gene from her dad, maybe? (Coupled with the fact that his absences make it matter more to her.)

It would do my head in too but you are right in how you know you should be reacting.

Have just looked it up in one of my child psych. books. This is the old Oedipus (Schmoedipus) complex and "it is imperative that the child be defeated in this aim" - ie to make the opposite sex parent love it more than the partner. However the child must also get loving responses from both parents. So when your DH gets home "and his daughter rushes to kiss him before Mummy can, a loving mother understandingly allows this to happen, and a loving father plays with his daughter for a while before firmly telling her that it is time for them to stop playing because it is time for him to talk to and cuddle Mummy."

Mind you this is assuming a 9-5 Daddy, I think. In your situation it's going to be much harder for you to "understandingly allow this to happen". Is there any way of arranging things so that she isn't always there when he gets back, so that the 2 of you could have some time together without her piling in? He is going to have to be quite firm too - it must be flattering for him but he really mustn't play up to it.

HTH. Lots of luck. Don't feel too bad about the hissy fit - we all have them, often for the silliest reasons - it's not the end of the world!

janh Mon 17-Feb-03 12:09:06

BTW, for anyone who is going through the same thing with DS in love with Mummy, the procedure is slightly different - "When Daddy comes home from work a loving mother insistently pushes her son away from her, telling him that she wants to be with Daddy now he has come home, but that after dinner *Daddy* will play with him".

It does make sense but where this leaves single-parent families isn't covered, unfortunately.

Podmog Mon 17-Feb-03 12:18:38

Message withdrawn

GeorginaA Mon 17-Feb-03 12:41:32

sobernow that sounds so familiar! I don't know if this will help anyone but this Saturday we did things slightly differently - we had a list of chores that needed to be done and a timer. Every fifteen minutes, dh and I "swapped roles" - taking in turns to do the chores or play with ds.

It actually worked quite well, I didn't feel resentful that I was using the weekend to catch up with chores while dh had all the fun, and actually they got done an awful lot quicker than normal.

AngieL Mon 17-Feb-03 12:54:16

I have the same problem, but my dd and ds both idolise their dad. My dh also works long hours and when he is at home dd and ds fight for his attention constantly. It can be really wearing and can make the time we do have together really stressful.

I used to always feel resentful when the kids went rushing up to dh as soon as he got in and I was ignored. Now I just think, thank god, I can have a rest, although like everyone else I normally jump up and start doing housework.

I quite like Georgina's idea of swapping over every so often at the weekend. I'm pretty sure though that the kids would just follow dh to wherever he was of to, and no one would want to play with me.

berries Mon 17-Feb-03 13:15:27

Growler, I think Janh has hit the nail on the head with this one. My eldest dd was exactly the same at 4 - dh was the apple of her eye and could do no wrong. I'd like to think I handled it calmly & maturely, but can distinctly remember saying, when she said for the umpteenth time how she was going to marry daddy 'well, you can't coz I got there first - so there!' - how mature is that. Anyway, she has grown out of it, and at 7 seems to be going the opposite way, very mummy minded (we're all girlies together & daddy can get left out). Mind you - youngest dd (5) seems to be hitting the 'daddy is the greatest' phase now, but not quite to the same extent.
Don't discount the jealousy factor either. With a 4 & 2 yr old, the 2 yr old will be getting more attention, so your eldest may be doing this as a bit of 'pay back'.
If I were you, I would take advantage of this and let dh have 'sole control' for as much time as he is available - you'll probably find it wears off quick - while you get time to make yourself beautiful & rested for when they are in bed!.

berries Mon 17-Feb-03 13:16:37

By 'they' I do, of course, mean 2 dds

janh Mon 17-Feb-03 13:25:55

berries, I think your dd must have read the same book as me!

CAM Mon 17-Feb-03 18:31:30

Growler my dd loves her daddy "just a tiny bit more than you Mummy" so I say "good". Then she says "actually I love you both the same" and I say "and we both love you the same". Dh's tend to have more novelty value, tend to have time to play more when at home (I wonder why) but when my dd is ill or worried its always mummy that she wants and mummy who makes her feel better! What we're saying to you Growler, this is normal , it would be weirder if your dd didn't behave like this. Don't get emotionall involved in it, it's just (another) phase.

growler Mon 17-Feb-03 21:50:00

Thank you everyone. Already just by reading your messages I feel much more positive about it. I'd somehow seen it as a reflection on my mothering skills that she preferred her dad and allowed it to make me feel really inadequate. I'd known it was oedipal time (And HOW!!!) but I guess I had forgotten in the heat of things what that meant. I guess it's a decision to take these things lightly, rather than personally,that's needed here...and we all know how easy that but it is as usual very good to know I'm not the only rejected mumma out there.
(At risk of sounding like a cheesy american quilt making movie, I sometimes think that mumsnetters could solve everything. Problems at Nato anyone?)

But back to the dad thing. I was thinking about it today, and I think for me the thing is also that my dad was a complete waster, violent, selfish and utterly useless, so I still find it hard to contemplate that anyone could prefer their dad! My default position is mummies good daddies bad, even if my dh is totally unlike my dad and really quite fantastic.

bozzy Mon 17-Feb-03 22:19:20

Growler, I remember when I was four, I used to have crushes on men! I had 3 older brothers - I didn't like women at all, thought they were silly. I remember walking down the road hand in hand with Mum, and saying to Mum that "that man is nice".... You will be relieved to know that I didn't turn into a slapper and I quickly grew out of it - I can't remember having a crush on my Dad but I definately remember thinking men were a lot better than women. I assure you she will grow out of it!

eemie Tue 18-Feb-03 12:06:44

growler I think you may have hit on something really important in that last post. Your dd has a good Dad. You didn't. Could you, without realising it, be comparing the blissful relationship between your besotted dd and dh, and feeling sorry for yourself, even envious of your dd who is showing you what you missed with your own Dad? I'm not criticising because this is exactly what happens sometimes with me and my dd. Of course I'm overjoyed that she has a good father - dammit I wouldn't have *had* her if I hadn't known he would be a good father. But now she's 4 she reminds me vividly every day of myself at that age and how different it was for me. I have nightmares about my drunken dad every night, after barely thinking about him for years. When dd is all over dh, then blatantly winds me up I'm childishly resentful. Why should she get all her own way all the time and then get away with whining etc etc etc. I am reduced to a whining 4 year old myself and want to go away and sulk and leave them to it.

Having blurted that out I don't know where to take it next. Maybe understanding where feelings come from can be a step towards better coping? Hope so.

Linzoid Tue 18-Feb-03 21:18:42

I know exactly how you feel! I have enjoyed reading this and feel that perhaps i'm not such a crap mum. My 2 ds both MUCH prefer to spend time with dh. The 4 year old won't have me do anything for him when he's around. my 7 year old tries not to make it so obvious because he knows it hurts my feelings. It's true that dh is just so much more fun than i am and evrything dh does is just SO interesting to them. Sometimes it makes me feel like letting them get away with stuff that i would normally tell them for just so they might like me more, how sad !!

RosieT Tue 18-Feb-03 22:26:17

Linzoid – it's something I can relate to, too: the frustration of dad being the "fun" parent and mum being the one who does all the behind-the-scenes work, has to enforce the discipline (because I'm the one who has to deal with the consequences) – I think that's the deal for a lot of parents.
However, I am interested in this Oedipal thing, since ds seems to be going through it in quite a big way – and I'd love to know the reasoning why "it's imperative that the child be defeated in it" janh. Ds is determined that he's going to marry me when he's grown up, and gets quite upset when I suggest he might meet lots of nice girls when he's bigger. Clearly, he hasn't met many girls yet, and I'm sure he will change his mind as time goes on, but it feels harsh to keep on telling him this won't happen as, as far as he's concerned being "married" to mummy simply means mummy always loving him and being there.

tweakle Wed 19-Feb-03 12:11:23

This is the first time I've ever sent a message to a message board. Could someone explain the dd, ds, dh stuff? I've been trying to work it out but can't!

I have completely the opposite problem in that I work full time and my husband looks after our 16 month old son. My husband is getting more and more depressed because our son (ds?)appears to prefers being with me. I get all the smiles and attention while husband (dh?)is generally ignored and often ds cries when, for example, dh goes to get him up in the morning. dh is a wonderful and doting dad and it seems very sad that he's the one doing all the hard work and has given up his job and is getting the cold shoulder. Maybe it's exactly the same problem but in reverse. Any suggestions wld be most appreciated. dh thinks ds doesn't like him and it breaks my heart.

hmb Wed 19-Feb-03 12:16:05

Darling son, daughter etc. MIL is mother in law

GillW Wed 19-Feb-03 12:17:03

dd - dear/darling daughter
ds - dear/darling son
dh - dear/darling husband
dp - dear/darling partner

Bozza Wed 19-Feb-03 12:21:04

Tweakle - your DH sounds great. I'm guessing because you are in a situation which is currently less common (trying to word this right) your husband might be a little sensitive about these things. I think it does sound very much like the reverse of everyone else's comments - a bit of a case of the grass is greener with your DS. Please try and reassure your DH - I'm sure your DS does really love his Dad. He's also getting to the age of showing a bit of independence and stubbornness (ie terrible twos start before two...).

By the way you guessed the abbreviations correctly.

GeorginaA Wed 19-Feb-03 12:38:57

Tweakle, my ds (21 months) is the same (even though it's me who stays at home, unlike your situation). Although talks non-stop about daddy when he's not here, really prefers my company when he is. Except bathtimes (as dh until he started working away, did *every* bathtime). In the last few months he's got a lot better and discovered that daddy plays different games than mummy so is a bit more interesting It takes perserverence I think and for both parties to try not to take it to heart when they are the "out of favour" parent for a little while.

sobernow Wed 19-Feb-03 13:22:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Zoe Wed 19-Feb-03 18:14:49

My dh bought a book yesterday called The Autobiography of a one year old - it's a kind of Bridget Jones for babies (but with less Chardonnay) It's a kind of self help book for parents as well as it attempts to explain in a humorous way why they do the things that they do. In one part it suggests that to wind Smooth (the mother) up and express the power that you have, you should take her to the end of her tether all day, and then act all sweetness and light and smiles and gurgles when Hairy(the father) comes home. The narrator baby says something like "I have no idea why this winds them up, but it does so I do it as a social experiment" or something.

Anyway, I thought that this might help. It's actually a really funny book (not the way I tell it!) and dh and I have laughed (ruefully sometimes!) out loud at some of the things in it.

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