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DD is struggling when she goes to sleep at her dad's. Advice much needed please, a bit long

(25 Posts)
yetama Mon 20-Jun-11 22:51:50

DD is 22 months old and me and her dad separated almost 2 months ago. We have moved out of the family home (long story but he would not leave the house because he would become homeless so I had to rent a house for both of us) and he has kept the house we both bouht together for our family.

Dd sees her dad two nights a week for a couple of hours and then she sleeps over at his house one night at the weekend. So she is familiar with the surrandings when she goes to his house. She is very happy to see her dad and has no problem at all when she leaves to go with him. However when she comes back after sleeping at his house she is really angry and clinggy. I believe she is suffering a bit from separation anxiety and I think she may feel that I am abandoning her when she goes to her dad's. She is ok otherwie when she only goes for dinner at his. I cannot talk to him about all this matters as he will say that I am manipulating her or lieing to him (which it is what he always did while we were together).

I gave up my job after my maternity leave ended to look after her and we both reached this agreement that it was on our DD best interest if I was staying home. So she has not really notice that much the change as I was explaining her eveything we were doing before we separated. She loves the new house, never has had any problem about the house. She is used to be with me the whole day and even though her dad is not living with us it does not make much difference from before as he always worked till very late and was coming home lot of nights when she was already sleeping

In the last week I have been explaining her that mum and dad do not love each other anymore and that is why we are living i different houses but because we both love her a lot she spends time with both of us.

So can anone give me some advice on how I can reassure her that I am still waiting for her when she goes to sleep at her dad's? What can I do to help her feel secure and that I am not abandoning her? In our house we sleep together as have not managed to buy her a bed yet (he kept her cot as he paid for it) because I am stuggling to get the benefits sort out as according to the benefot agency I have a financial interest in the house I bought with my ex-partner. I don't know where she sleeps when she goes to sleep to his house or how she goes to sleep as he never tells me anything and when I ask him he says that everything is ok with her.

Thank you very much in advance

SirGinster Tue 21-Jun-11 12:31:00


I have a 24 month old daughter who comes to stay with me ( the dad ) for a couple of nights every fortnight.

I would say if your dd is playing up when she comes home to you, rather than when she heads off to dad's it isn't separation anxiety.

I sought advice on these matters here on mum's net a while back and on comment that stuck in my mind was somebody saying that their DC had more of a problem when the mum moved house rather than visiting dad in a different house.

I guess that doesn't help much. But possibly your dd is upset about leaving the family home and going to somewhere a bit unfamiliar.

Another possibility may be that your XP hasn't done much nightime parenting ( ? ) in the past and your dd's routine / sleep is getting messed up.

My best advice would be to try ( as hard as it may be ) to work on a communicative relationship with your XP. I know that might not be easy, but talking from experience the better you get on, the more parenting advice he may be willing to ask you about.

sunshineandbooks Tue 21-Jun-11 13:03:55

My first thought is that almost two months is not very long at all and the dust is still settling. I think your DD probably just needs time and lots of reassurance from both of you. If you have trouble communicating could you try to keep a little notebook about DD where you write down any concerns/preferences etc (a bit like the learning journey/communication passports kept at nurseries etc). Best of luck.

yetama Tue 21-Jun-11 15:59:52

Thanks sunshieandbooks, EX is a control freak and has already tld me to keep a dairy of what we both do with DD instead of talking. For me at the moment it is too much as I am looking for work and writing a lot of applications which are already a pain. And even if we have a notebook it wouldn't help at all as I am blame for DD not playing with other children when she goes to playgrounds. If he would bother reading a bit of child development he would know that at the age of DD children do parallel playing which means that they pey on their own and copy what other children are doing. I don't think it would ork at all.

How could I reassure DD that everything is ok? Any tips?

SirGinster Tue 21-Jun-11 16:37:25

Keeping a diary of what you both do with dd is pretty standard advice on MN if you can't communicate with each other.

When I split with my XP and we weren't getting on, we always acted in a friendly fashion to each other in front of dd especially at hand overs. If my dd was ever missing her mum lots of reassurance and hugs helped her through, but it was usually rare and brief.

Your dd will pick up on any worries you or your XP have. If you want to reassure your dd that everything is all-right then do just that.

SirGinster Tue 21-Jun-11 16:50:27

This is the thread I started a while back, you may find useful comments..


yetama Tue 21-Jun-11 19:16:18

Thanks SirGinster. We both act as friendly as possible in front of her. But to be honest we don't really talk. It is not the kind of relationship I wished I had with him but he is not willing to change it.

I dropped DD at his today (usually he always comes to pick her up) and she had a massive tantrum because she didn't want me to leave. I had to tell her dad to mind the way he was talking to me as it wasn't very polite but nothing different of what he used to do to me when we used to live together.

I'll check your link and hopefully I will get some ideas. My big worry is that next week she is going on holiday with with him for 10 days and I am not sure if DD is ready to be 19 days away from me. I know she needs to get used to the new life style but I would love to be able to help her as much as possible. Everytime I tell her that she is going on holiday with him she says NO. I know that once she is with him she is ok but I believe I should explain her what is happening unless someone in here tells me is better to leave it as surprise and not to prepare her for it hmm

Anyway I will be ready once she is back to be extra patiente with her and deal with the situation as best as I can. At least I will have had a week to recharge.

balia Tue 21-Jun-11 19:23:52

There was a really good link posted on legal I think, about this exact kind of thing - I'll pop over there and see if I can find it...

SirGinster Tue 21-Jun-11 19:25:37

Wow , 10 days holiday, 10 days away from you. Honestly I wouldn't take my dd away from her mum for that long. Seriously, I think that is going to cause a lot of anxiety to your dd.

It doesn't sound like your XP has your daughters best interests at heart.

I hope it gets better I really do.

yetama Tue 21-Jun-11 19:33:58

I can asure you that he only thinks if himself as he has always done. The first time he put her in bed was the first day she stayed at his. So that is why I am worring that everytime she comes back after sleeping with him she is such a terrible mess.

I did offer him to help him at first to put her in bed and he told me that he could do that. At that time she was still breastfeeding to go to bed. Now I am only breastfeeding her when she comes back from his house as she is very unsettle.

I really believe it is not a good idea for her to go 10 days away and I don't say it because I don't want her to enjoy her dad. I think she has all the rights to be with his dad and I always try to acommodate all his needs when seeing DD but I don;t think it is a good idea. He has already planned another holiday with her in august for the same amount of time.

I will have to wait and see what happens. Have you gone on holiday with your DD? Was she ok?

When DD asks about dad (which is not very often) I always tell her that "Mum and Dad don;t love each other anymore but we both love her a lot and that is why she spends time with me and with dad". Do you think this is alright or should I tell her something else?

Help please

balia Tue 21-Jun-11 19:34:45

Sorry - found it - I thought it was very good, hope it helps. here

SirGinster Tue 21-Jun-11 19:49:50

Well to start with unless he is the 'resident parent' which he's not , you can legally refuse to let your daughter go if he's taking her out of the country. He needs your written permission as do you if you haven't got a resident order from a court.

We never told dd that we didn't love each other anymore. The general advice I got was that children at that age don't really know much different and take things in their stride. Personally I wouldn't try and explain everything like that to my dd yet. I'm lucky that me and my XP managed to repair our relationship and are actually getting on well. It makes dd happier to see us getting on.

And no, I haven't been on holiday with dd yet. I really wouldn't dream of separating her from her mum for more than 3 or 4 ( max ) nights. Maybe when she's 3 or 4 I might but not when she is so small.

When she stays with me she is generally fine. It's only when I don't give her chocolate on demand that she say ' want mummy ' . But I really try and keep to her routine, and her mum helps me with this.

Where is he taking her roughly ? Out of the country ?

yetama Tue 21-Jun-11 20:04:11

He will be going camping 5 hours aay from we both live. I have tried to explain him her routine because while we were living together he wasn't that much with us during the week but his attitude is that he knows everything and I cannot comment anything.

It is just a bit hard at the moment. I don;t have any problem with her going on holiday with her dad. I just think it may be a bit to early to be honest

yetama Tue 21-Jun-11 20:09:40

Balia: thank you very much for the link. Very interesting however I still don;t know how to help DD to feel secure and decrease her anxiety. Any ideas?

mrscolour Tue 21-Jun-11 20:40:54

I personally would be asking whether she is ready for these overnight stays. And as for letting him take her away for 10 days -you don't have to agree to is. Is he a controlling man? Are you a little bit scared of saying no to him.

It sounds like it is very difficult for her, she is less than 2 years old. I guess she still isn't understanding everything that is said to her. If she's sleeping in a her own bed at her dad's but sleeping with you at your house and she's returning to her old home it must be really unsettling for her. If it were me, I might be suggesting that you need to get her settled into a routine of sleeping in a bed when she's with you before she stays with him again.

If she's going to keep sleeping at his, then you could really do with having a conversation with your ex about bedtimes and nighttimes. Could you try and follow the same routine? Does she have a special toy or blanket? Could she take an item of your clothing so she can still smell you? Does she wake in the night? If, so how do you reassure her? And he needs to tell you what is happening. If it is difficult to try and discuss these things, is it worth attending mediation and this would give an opportunity to discuss other matters as well.

yetama Tue 21-Jun-11 21:29:21

Mrscolour, he is a control freak. He has always been and I guess he will always be. Regarding to her own bed in our house this is a bit difficult. I am in a difficult financial situation at the moment. To sum up I am struggling to get benefits because the house he is living we bought it together and still in both of our names. He didn't let me stay in the house so I had to rent a house for both of us.

I am hoping that we have reached a separation agreement I will get some money from the house we both own and then we DD a bed for herself. He doesn't want to go to mediation because according to him is a waste of money and time. He also does not believe that morally I am entitled to any money from the house we both bought so I guess we will have to end in court.

She has a special confort toy that she takes with her when she goes to sleep at his but even if I try to talk with him it wouldn't work as his attitude is that he knows everything and I can't teach him anything. He has always been like this. And I guess that I am a bit scared to talk to him as he can be very a bit nasghty. Today when I went to drop DD off at his I had to tell him to mind the way he was talking to me in front of DD. However I think I may try to email him at work explaining him my concerns and see what happens

mrscolour Tue 21-Jun-11 21:39:50

Sounds really tough for you. And it sounds like he's really bitter. When I suggested that she might need to sleep in a bed with you before he sleeps at his I wasn't suggesting that you immediately need to go out and buy a bed - just that this might give you a valid reason to stop overnight contact for a while.

When he says that mediation is a waste of time and money, has he considered how much it will cost to go through court. You might be entitled to legal aid so it might be a good idea to go and get some legal advice. You are definitely entitled to money from the house, probably more than him if you need to re-house your family.

Try and be as strong as you can for your dd. Do you have family and friends who give you support? My family have helped me stay strong and encouraged me no to give in to my ex's every demand.

Good luck x

sunshineandbooks Tue 21-Jun-11 21:40:49

yetama just got in and caught up on your posts. This sounds like a really tough time for you.

While I wouldn't see any problems with a father taking his child away for 10 days ordinarily, I think this is all a bit too soon after the separation. If you were still together or if he'd been a hands-on parent while you were together it would be fine, but under these circumstances I would be very unhappy in your situation. I'm not sure what you can do about it though. sad

I can understand why you don't want to do the notebook thing on top of everything else you are juggling at the moment (I have to say I am very hmm about a 'father' who insists on his XP and own baby daughter having to move out because he has nowhere to go). However, I think if you want to salvage something from this you may have to do the notebook thing, however unfair it is. If you go back to court at any point it will be painted as 'unco-operative' if you don't.

Can you start keeping a record of your DDs reactions/emotions when she comes back from your XP? It may be helpful. Also keep a diary of how your XP makes you feel and anything he does that affects you negatively (like throwing you and your DD out of your own home). It will be very emotional but again, if you go back to court, you will be able to distil the salient facts.

I think SirGinster probably has it spot on about your DD reacting to the fact that her dad's home is what used to be her home but now is a secondary home IYSWIM. I also think that 50/50 care will be looked on with disapproval by future generations. I think it is simply too unsettling for children, and ultimately it's about them, not fairness to their parents. I think there are many, many ways that a non-resident parent can provide 50% of the care and nurturing a child needs without them having to have them sleep over for 50% of the time.

Sorry I've not got any helpful advice, but you can definitely have some sympathy.

Dilemma85 Tue 21-Jun-11 21:49:29

Me and my ds dad split when he was 11 weeks old, but he started staying at his dads when he was about the same age as your dd, he too had trouble settling into his 2nd home so i decided to go and buy him a really cheap pay as you go mobile phone and told him when he was at his dads he could call me whenever he wanted all he had to do was ask his dad to dial my number as i was on o2 i got free calls to my ds phone from my postcode so all he needed to do was let it ring once and i would ring him back.

This really reassured him although it was hard to say no when he was call me crying down the phone asking me to pick him up but i didnt want him to get into that habbit.

my son is nearly 4 now and loves going to his dads and he keeps his phone at his dads and can call him from my phone for free whenever he wants to. So it seems to work for everyone.
I still say he was the youngest child to own a mobile phone smile

Hope this helps

yetama Tue 21-Jun-11 22:29:09

Mrscolour: unfortnately even though we live in England I am from Spain so family is a bit far away. I have friends in here who are helping me lots so I am not on my own really. I am getting legal aid at the moment but to go to court I will have to apply for public funding which I will have to return once everything has finished (which it won't be any problem if he pays the part that I am entitled from the property).

Sunshineandbooks: I do not oppose to DD spending sometime with her dad I just think that he has not considered her needs at all and that 10 day maybe too mych for her at the moment knowing how she returns after sleeping at his house. But he has never considerd anyone else needs except for his own one's. That's him. I keep a dairy of times when he is picking her up, texting saying he will be late, being late without texting, not changing her nappy and coming back with a terrible rash, discussion we are having (I don't trust him), etc... He wanted me to write everythin I do with her, from activities I go to, what I a feeding her and so on. I guess for him it is easier as he only have to write a few things only but I do plenty of things with her and it would be a lot to write every night oce she is in bed.

Dilemma85: her language skills are not very developed. She says plenty of words but not enough to be able to talk on the phone at the moment. I was thinking of sking Ex-P to call them while they are away so I can talk with DD but not sure of his answer. I will ask him anyway and I will see.

Hank you very much all of you for your comments. It makes me feel better in a way that I am not crazy for worring about DD well being. Thanks again

cestlavielife Wed 22-Jun-11 11:23:59

" "Mum and Dad don;t love each other anymore but we both love her a lot and that is why she spends time with me and with dad"." woah, that is far too much complex feeligns for a 22 month old with underdeveloped language.

keep it very simple. dont try and explain adult emotions to her. focus on facts.

today you staying with mummy in our hosue. tomorrow you will visit daddy at daddy's house then come back to mummy's house.

dont say "dont love" and "do love" in one sentence or at same time. ffar too much to process.

mummy and daddy dont live together.
you see daddy on some days and mummy on some days

mummy loves you
daddy loves you.

i think that concept of "love" is too much for her age -sure you can say it but i am not sure she really understands what this means, at that age they need actions not words.

do role play with teddies/dolls.

get two dolls houses with mum, dad, little girl dolls. show how little girl goes between the two houses and what fun it is.

or make houses for teddies /dolls with cardboard boxes to role play.

and/or use photos of all three of you. and photos of the houses if you can.

you could also show on a board how she goes between mum and dad's house.

talking onphone - she not going to talk on phone/hold a big conversation but she could see and wave at daddy/mummy on skype and vice versa

but above all you have to show no anxiety yourself. bye bye have lovely time with daddy see you soon etc

cestlavielife Wed 22-Jun-11 11:27:40

ps who else will be on the holiday? other family of his? friends with kids?

to be honest i think she will be fine - she will settle into new routine for those days. when she says "no" to holiday - well she doesnt really know what it means does she? at her age, she is focused on today/now .

yes there may be readjustment after, but if no welfare /care concerns tehn she will be fine

yetama Wed 22-Jun-11 22:58:41

Cestlavielife: thank you for your comments. Hope you are right and she will be ok. She is going on holiday with his parents and sister (he wouldn;t be able to cope otherwise He has never been with her for more than one day and only after we have separated).

I will try to do the playrole. At the moment she loves plaing with the teddy and dolls and we feed them and talk to them a lot. So I think it may work for her. I take note of your comment about maybe my explanations are too complicated for her. I will try in the future to keep them as simple as possible. It is just a bit difficult when all my friends are in happy relationship and I cannot get their advice on this things. Anyway thanks again

cestlavielife Wed 22-Jun-11 23:16:36

i think you have to let him have the chance to cope - try and get on good side of his parents/sister so they can tell you stuff.

with him, an aunt and abuelos she is really going to be fine and spoiled!

yetama Wed 22-Jun-11 23:28:37

He is a very malipulative person so is parents have never contacted me to know what had happened or to ask us if we were ok. So I don't think hey would tell me anything even if DD is having a bad time. I hope that at some point his dad will givme a chance to talk to him because if someone can see through him it is him only.

I really hope you are right and she will be fine. W are having some problems with sleeping at the moment (it started before we decided to split up) and she likes to sleep on the bed or the pram so I am not sure how she will deal with sleeping on a tent. When I was little I lovd going camping and I really hope that she will enjoy it because I would like to go camping myself with her and I don't want her to hate it.

Today we set a tent in the park so I could explain her what it was and that she will be using a similar one when she goes wih her dad soon. Will have to wait and see what happens.

P.D. I like it about abuelos

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