DD hates leaving her dad(20 Posts)
DD is just 4, I split with her dad nearly 2 years ago now and he has her 11am on Saturday until 5pm on sunday 2 weekends a month (he also has DS who is 2.5 but no issues with him)
Up until about 2 months ago she would be really happy to see me when I picked her up and would often cry when I dropped her off, a bit like she does at preschool but now she gets very unhappy when we leave daddy's house on a Sunday night and becomes a blubbering wreck constantly asking for more kisses and cuddles from him. She will cry all the way home then ring him a few times before bed and takes hours to settle to sleep (I've ended up having to lie with her until she falls asleep in desperation but this has become a nightly thing now)
This week she spent an extra night at her dad's because I was ill and I literally can't get her to stop going on about him. She's wanting to ring him every 5 minutes, telling me she wants to go to his house and if I tell her off for something she breaks down and starts crying for him.
I've tried to explain that it's ok to miss him and that he loves her a lot and misses her too but he has to go to work and that we don't live together but she gets upset at that and asks if he can live here with us I do get on with Exp and we are both supportive of the children, he will come over in the week to see them if he can get out of work early but she wants to see him every day and I can't facilitate that.
I understand it's separation anxiety and I'm not taking it personally but it's very frustrating because I'm the one who does all the hard work (I work 3 days a week, try to keep on top of housework, do my degree and look after them) and he just plays with them all weekend when he has them. She often says that daddy is better at playing than mommy and that mommy makes her brush her hair, brush her teeth, eat her breakfast etc.
She starts school September and this level of anxiety started when we did a few settling in sessions. She is a shy child but ready for school academically.
Any tips on what to say or how to handle it sensitively but in a way that gets her to understand it's not my fault?
I have a whole mix of things..On the one hand it is great she is binding with Dad......
There is part of me that thinks this is a 4 year old trying to take control.
I would try and set phone times so she knows when it can happen.
I also think you may well give these questions too much attention.. I certainly did it with my Ds.. I realised all his questions about Dad were at bedtime. I felt obliges to answer. I have found factual none emotional brisk answers much better.
Can I also suggest you plan something for when she comes home whether it is a craft activity, decorating a biscuit something for her to look forward when she gets home and distraction
it s not her job to understand whose fault it is or isnt...she just needs to understand what the situation is.
you cant expect a four year old to take on board the adult's issues...
having him come to yours is confusing. does he come in your house to see the dc? that needs to stop so there are clear boundaries. see mum in mummys house see dad in daddy's house. rules n your hosue rules in his house. his days your days.
write up a weekly calendar showing when she sees daddy and when she is with you. you could have photos on daddy days of daddy and his house and photos of mummy days of mummy and mummy's house
while dropping in may be nice it might be better to have a clear routine of eg every other day or whatever you decide. so it is very clear when is dad day and when is mum day.
work on getting her to understand which days are with dad and which with mum. use calendars and schedules. if she says you make me brush teeth reflect back and say yes that's right brushing teeth makes your teeth nice and shiny white .
sit on the floor with her and do some role play with dolls and teddies around brushing teeth etc. let her play out a teddy who moves between two homes...ask her what would help teddy to feel better ?
I agree with Starlight about the questions not always being questions. For example "I wish Dad lived here" might be best answered with hugs and "I know you do" or "I'm glad you live here" as a gentle distraction.
Thanks for your replies, all great advice. I do sometimes wonder whether having so much contact with their dad is such a great idea but he likes us to spend time together as a 'family' even though we aren't one. I guess because neither of us has moved on its easier to share the care a bit more.
I have used a non committal answer when she asks why daddy isn't here or that she wants her dad, it seems to be working.
I do sometimes wonder whether having so much contact with their dad is such a great idea
There is nothing wrong with them having a lot of contact with their father. He is their father.
It is the fact there is no distinction between houses that may be an issue.
It won't be what you want to hear... but you both work. You do fewer hours actual work, but you study too. Why doesn't DD stay with her father for a while? She might realise that full time with Daddy means that Daddy has to do the same boring stuff that Mummy does, and Mummy is just as able to do the fun stuff at the when she has DD at the weekends.
How much time do you spend doing stuff with her? Can you lower your housework standards for a bit and give her a bit more focus?
It's tough isn't it!
I try and have something fun ready when they get back like a treasure hunt or something to distract them
And maybe try and knock the long drawn out goodbyes on the head, my boy is much happier when the goodbyes are quick!
I don't think you need to stop him coming over but rather have set days and could she stay over at his more often? 4 is very young but if she wants to see more of her DF l think you should try to help with that.
Exp doesn't drive unfortunately and has a long commute via train to work so her staying there in the week is impractical at the moment but if he ever takes a week off he could have her and she could see that daddy still needs to do boring stuff, I'll see what he says. I would love him to get involved in school, they have been at nursery for over a year and he's never been.
My housework standards are as low as reasonably possible I honestly can't spend any less time doing that or we will become a health hazard!
I've just dropped them off and he has spent loads of money on toys for them, they were overjoyed so ill have to think of something fun for when I collect them tomorrow, problem is they are usually very overtired so it will need to be something that keeps them calm, maybe new bath stuff, books and pj's? Perhaps something that doesn't cost money like bear hug vouchers
I'm pretty stressed out at the mo, maybe I've been a bit too shouty. I need to use this weekend to calm down, I've started seeing a counsellor to help me deal with the guilt I carry around from leaving exp (EA) and that's helping. In the worst days exp taunts me and tells me that when they grow up they will want to live with him he doesn't understand how much that flippant comment hurts.
Hi about stuff like treasure hunts when they get home? I do a treasure hunt for my boy and then there's just sweets or something at the end of it, but it really distracts him
Could you put a temporary hold on your studies to give her and you a chance to get settled?
I.e. What's your degree in? Unless it is guaranteed to improve your job prospects and pay I would be wary of funnelling energy into it at expense of your relationship with your daughter?
Alternatively if your degree is highly vocational and guaranteed career route and your job is low paid is it worth trying to work out whether you wouldn't be better off cutting your hours at work/ being full time student?
I honestly couldn't juggle all those things and give enough time to my two and still have time to relax (essential).
he doesn't understand how much that flippant comment hurts.
Of course he does, don't be naive. Just reply "Well obviously that will be their choice, in fact why don't we split their time more evenly and you take them for a week during one half term and two weeks in the summer.
I agree that there needs to be more distinction between the houses and you need to cut down on doing things together for a while. It's confusing her and she wants you back together (understandably) and you need to demonstrate more clearly that this isn't happening.
Emphasise what things she likes at her Dad's house and what she likes at your house.
It's just an OU degree, I only study when they are in bed so no impact on our time together. I have 3 days every week with just them, the last 4 weeks I've send DS to the childminders for 4 hours every Wednesday so me and DD can do fun stuff together, she loves that.
I am very strong to exps face, I do say stuff like 'that's their choice' but deep down it hurts, he knows what buttons to press, I've known him a very long time.
I have no plans to spend any time all together in the near future, I will be strong and keep it that way.
My next challenge is to get her to go to sleep on her own again now.....
Don't worry about being with her to get her off to sleep - I had to do it with DS for a long time. She's only 4 and upset.
Thank you, secretly I love it. I can't believe she's going to cool next month.
I realise you study in evenings, but that's when I do housework/ batch cook so we can do nice stuff together in the days.
It's tough juggling, but I admire you if you can!
I don't do housework. It's over-rated. Plenty of people raised an eyebrow at me co-sleeping with DS when he was anxious - I never cared, I did what he needed and he needed me to be there. He's 9 and sleeps through the night in his own bed unless he has a nightmare.
When they go to bed I quickly gather their toys up and lob them in the boxes then do a bit a reading. I do my housework in the day, they love helping with that, my DS loves hoovering and DD is good at sorting washing
I get my shopping delivered so I do get 2 whole weekends a month to do absolutely naff all (like this weekend). My friends are all either married with kids of their own or have drifted since I've become a lone parent (it's like I'm radioactive now) so I don't do much other than chill out on the sofa with the kittens.
That's fair enough I just thought you were saying you were struggling to find time to do fun stuff with her?
I don't do really housework either kew just the bare minimum to keep us fed and clothed
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