advice on bonding, please?(11 Posts)
When our ds was born his dad had lots of leave and was around, helping, for most of the first 6 weeks. Since then he's gone back to work full-time but he still gives ds his bath, changes nappies, carries ds in the sling when we go out. They also usually get a little bit of a play together in the evenings and a fair bit on weekends.
The problem is that ds won't settle (from crying, or for sleep) with his dad - in fact he'll often start crying if I hand him over and rarely stops til I take him back. I don't rush in but it isn't doing either of them any good to have so much crying in their time together (and we adults could both do without the extra stress at the end of our day!). DH is so disheartened he has given up trying in the evenings, which is sad for both of them (not to mention I could really use a break, since I am on night-duty as well!) I am trying so hard not to be Type A about this, but DH seems to have decided he "can't" help so sticks his nose in a book and waits to be told what to do, which isn't doing our relationship any good either!
Any suggestions as to how we can break the pattern and help ds get used to settling with his dad, without all of us being traumatised? Would it be a good idea for me to just go out and leave them to it? Anyone been through anything like this before?
Thanks for tips
As a dad all I can say that this phase will pass and he will bond with his son. I cannot advise on the crying part and I am sure it is tough but your husband must not take it personally and think of the long term. It is tough but these early months/years and you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. I'd remind your DH to think of the long term in this.
Have you tried music or singing that seemed to work well for my children.
My ds was like this for a short while at around 6 weeks.
In the end I just had to let dh get on with it. it was really hard for me, sitting downstairs listening to ds cry - I had to sit on my hands and zip my trap shut and let them find their own way.
I'd tell dh the things I did to help ds settle, so we were both singing from the same hymn sheet, but other that that I let them get on with it.
It was so hard at the beginning but it didn't last long in hindsight, and how there's nothing I can do with ds that dh can't. They have a great relationship and dh has him one day a week while I am at work, and they get up to all sorts of things together.
I'm sure you're not, but try and give your DP / DH the space to find his own way. Tell him what you do ( not in the heat of the moment but at another time) and encourage him to do the same, but when it comes to it, if you possibly can, just stay out of it.
It will be so worth it in the long run, you will be able to happily leave him with dh and they will have a great relationship.
I had a similar problem - and I think you need to be cruel to be kind. Go out for a good few hours on a Saturday and leave them in a position where they both have to cope with each other - I appreciate this isn't straightforward if you're BFing, and that you'll spend the few hours a nervous, stressed wreck, but total immersion therapy was the only way for DH and I.
I remember one night was a real turning point for us - ds had screamed for about an hour and I'd done everything I could to settle him. Dh came up to relieve me so I ciould eat my supper, and I was amazed when the house went quiet about 5 mins later.
I tiptoed up to his room, to find dh stripped to the waist, lying on his back on the floor, with ds asleep on his chest.
It was such a lovely sight, something I hadn't thought of doing, and dh was so proud that he had managed to get ds to sleep.
Tell him to stick with it.
Also - I made the mistake of telling Dh what to do (this was our first together, but I'd already got 2 DCs from a previous relationship) all the time - eventually I worked out he had to make his own mistakes and find his own way. His parenting style is still different from mine, but it works just as well.
Tonight ds was lying on the sofa and started grumbling. From the other end of the house I heard and came to get him, but by the time I got there he was howling - and DH sitting on other sofa looking desperate. I said, "what happened?" He said, "I just went over to talk to him!" Poor DH!
For the sake of your family I'd say you must really encourage dh to stick it out and ds will get over it eventually. Does dh have a scary beard or wear strong aftershave that ds might not like? Maybe you could wear dh's tops so they smell of you then dh can put them on and be with ds? Smells are how they recognise us at first.
If all that fails maybe dh was awful to ds in a past life and he can remember it!! And when he's crying he might be saying "Oi I remember you, you sold me a dodgy car you git!"
but joking aside try to keep it cheerful when ds cries with dh so that dh doesn't feel stressed.
It took my dh a fair while to bond with ds. I think it's easier for everyone if he takes him out for walks, so you don't have to get stressed out by it.
They seem to be getting on better now ds is on solids, too, as it means dh feeds him sometimes. DS has just started to look wistfully towards dh sometimes - cupboard love, eh? Can he give him a feed?
from the work I had to do on bonding - I seem to recall that babies bond in a kind of order - primary carer first then when fully bonded secondary carer then gradually bonds with others through the main carers. It's absolutely normal for the baby to still be bonding with you first. you ned to keep contact but you don't need to push it. If your DH is more analytical then explaining the bonding in sequential order may make more sense to him and that he needs to hang around and keep trying in order to catch the point that the baby is ready to bond with him (IYSWIM)
Sympathies to the OP and the poor old DH. It happened to us too - from about 3 months old as soon as DW gave me DD1, the sides of her mouth turned down and she strained out of my arms to get back to DW.
We persisted though by my DW expressing milk in the morning, so I could bottle-feed DD1 in the evening, with the long lingering eye contact and positive associations that develops. It meant coming back early in the evening from work, but once the bond was made with the feed, I carried it on seamlessly to bathtime, storytime and bedtime.
I now go to work early to achieve just this (and it works very well).
Seriously, you'll be absolutely fine.
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