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2y/o back to wanting mum - are we being cruel?

(18 Posts)
Ananias Mon 18-Feb-13 07:51:54

Hi guys, first post here - forgive me if I miss the etiquette.

Feeling a bit traumatised after last night's bedtime. The background is: we have a 7mnth old boy, breastfeeding, and a 2 1/2 year old girl who's extremely advanced. She iis inteligent enough to manipulate/lie etc, but doesnt tend to - she is usually just a really sweet kid (except for a bit of jealous violence toward the younger one at the minute, but that's another story.) Me and DD have an awesome relationship. Just yesterday me and her went for a long walk through woodland together without mum, exploring off the tracks, and I'd support her in trying risky slopes etc. We kiss and hug all the time, tell each other we love each other loads of times a day etc. In other words, we havn't got a bonding problem.

She only used to let Mum put her to bed, but fortunately when DS came along she transitioned really well into me putting her to bed in her own room. And more recently we've progressed to leaving her alone in bed for spells then going back to her, and she's even dropped off alone a couple times (though that's the exception.) But we seem to have relapsed in that area of late.

As DS is breatfeeding, it simply is not possible for DD to get her way and have mum's attention at bedtime all the time (although we have given in to the tantrums many a time when it's been possible.) But last night we decided to really insist, and mum stayed out of it while I endured the wrath of the toddler. Screaming "I want mummy," "I don't like you daddy," "I don't love you, go away," in this harrowing voice like the kids out of The Exorcist, and hitting and kicking me like a helicopter. Shudder!

So in the end I had to leave her in her room to cool off cos all the stories and calming talk weren't helping. The crying went on for ages, "I want mummy," and we've always agreed not to go the contolled crying route (does this count as controlled crying?)

Anyway, after a while it did go quiet, so i risked going back because I didnt want her to go to sleep feeling rejected. But the girl I went back to was a different girl. She was broken. I felt like it was a scene out of Clockwork Orange or 1984, conditioning. (Sorry, I'm not into dark films or anything, this is just how I feel now!)

I layed down next to her, and then came the one-liner that's been echoing round my head ever since.. In this defeated voice, she whimpered "I waited and I waited but she never came."

Ouch. Im completely heartbroken. I don't know why I could handle her telling me she doesn't love me but not this. Mum said it's her who should feel guilty (mums always do eh?) But i just feel like the worst dad on earth right now.

Is this "brokenness" a sign of success? Is it a discipline breakthrough? Or is it child abuse/neglect? Thanks, and sorry for going on.x

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 18-Feb-13 07:55:38

I wouldn't view that as a success, no.

Why does the 7 month old have to go to bed at the same time as your toddler? You need to adjust the timings so that your daughter doesn't feel pushed out.

I know it is hard, our eldest was 2.8 when DS2 came along and it is challenging managing bedtimes when your toddler has been used to having you to themselves, but just refusing contact with the parent they want isn't the way.

Can your DW not sit with your DD while she is feeding and read her a story?

rubyslippers Mon 18-Feb-13 07:57:52

Put one to bed before the other so you can spend time with each child

At this age, baby went to bed then toddler after

And no, it's not neglect or abuse

MrsMangoBiscuit Mon 18-Feb-13 08:00:19

Call me cynical, but could it not just be another tactic as the screaming wasn't working? Our 3yo DD shocks me sometimes by her manipulations, and she really is a lovely little girl.

I agree with suggestion to stagger bedtimes though.

brainonastick Mon 18-Feb-13 08:06:58

No, it's not a sign you've broken her or neglected her, please don't worry. Its also not controlled crying. You left a tantrumming toddler to calm down. Its ok. In fact it's normal. You tried to deal with the situation as best you could. Sometimes you just can't solve the problem for them, that's life.

It is, perhaps, a sign that there is an issue that needs working on a bit more. Have you looked at the book 'how to talk so kids will listen'? I find that quite helpful.

But essentially, where there is no room for negotiation - your wife has to feed the baby - then you have to stand firm on tantrums over that. Where there is room for negotiation - maybe you can stagger bedtimes or your wife can give your daughter lots of one on one time at another time of day - then you can talk this over with your daughter and see if she can understand the choices at this age and decide on what she would like.

Don't worry about the wanting mummy over daddy thing, it's entirely normal and vice versa. I still have to separate my two (5&3!) when they fight over me. They still love their daddy, they just have a massive competition over me for some reason hmm.

What does your wife think about this?

brainonastick Mon 18-Feb-13 08:08:03

Ah, lots of similar x posts whilst I was typing that!

MarkGruffalohohoho Mon 18-Feb-13 08:09:18

Oh God - you poor thing. That sounds awful and you sound like a really lovely hands-on Dad.
'I don't like you' is sadly par for the course and you do well to not take it seriously/personally. But I agree with the above poster - your daughter needs the reassurance that there's still room for her too and having cuddles, the four of you together on the couch post teeth brushing for a story with her between the pair of you makes far more sense. Doesn't matter who is reading as long as the contact is there...hell, I would have let her drop off with me then put her in her bed but I am a terrible co-sleeper who sets up bad habits! wink
Today is a new day. Put it behind you. Explain both of you why Mum couldn't come and then maybe do alternate putting to bed/change sleep or feeding times (Difficult if feeding on demand or you wanting to maintain consistency etc)
Alternatively a rocking chair in your daughter's room - your wife feeds her sibling whilst you do the kneeling next to the bed, tucking in etc and your daughter can feed her dolly in said chair during the day?

Yamyoid Mon 18-Feb-13 08:10:04

That's really tough but don't feel like the worst dad. We've had great problems with the exact same situation. What's working at the moment we came upon by accident. Ds's friend lent him some books different to his usual bedtime stories, they're more 'grown up' and Dh took the opportunity for this to be their thing. So Dh reads and I come in afterwards for a 5 minute cuddle. If I'm feeding dd, she comes too, still attached to the boob. It's not a perfect solution as ds still feels a bit hard-done-to but it's a good compromise for us.

Fairylea Mon 18-Feb-13 08:11:43

I don't think it should always be you that puts her to bed from now on as she will see it as being pushed out.... because of the baby.

The baby needs to go to bed first. Or mum needs to express or give a bottle of formula so you can take turns if you are both adamant it must be at that time.

Otherwise I think your dd is going to feel mum now favours the baby over her.

Ananias Mon 18-Feb-13 10:27:18

Thanks everyone.

So the common consensus appears to be that we should go softer on her, and basically give her what she wants - more attention from mum at bedtime. Except for when it's genuinely impossible, i which case it's acceptable to put our foot down, but not ideal.

@Brianonastick - I think my wife "thinks" we should be doing what we're doing. This is the time for us to be hammering it home that we make the decisions, and the kids don't set the terms of their bedtimes etc (our close friend went the "child-led-parenting" route and now has a spoilt, radgey 8 year old with the emotional age of a 2year old, because he never got to learn not to have his way, and grew up co-sleeping etc. Now he trashes his room at bedtime, and lies in bed shouting his mum's name for an hour or two at night. We seriously want to nip this in the bud in good time, but obviously not too prematurely.) However, my wife's "feelings" often override her "thoughts," and she usually runs to the rescue when either of the kids cry.

No, I havnt read that book but il check it out, cheers.

@Yamyoid - yea we've done that a few times. DD defo seems to prefer it wen i read to her and Mum finishes bedtimes, rather than other way round.

@Alibaba - thanks for you reply. I think me and my partner are both agreed that it's a bit much for er to do both bedtimes all the time, given that she's not a single mum and I'm more than willing. (Although she does when I work lates.) Buy I take your comment on board that last night was not a success, and we need to reach a more gentle solution moving forward.


Ananias Mon 18-Feb-13 10:44:18

BTW, you'll be relieved to learn, DD woke up her usual happy and bubbly self this morning, and gave me a ring at work to tell me she loves me smile It would appear no harm's done. Still worth evaluating the "success" or otherwise of our methods though...

brainonastick Mon 18-Feb-13 12:15:13

Oh how sweet, she sounds delightful smile. Glad you are less worried.

Yes, I think it is important for children to learn that there will absolutely be times when they can't have what they want, and their parent will need to - firmly but gently - set the rules for then (they won't like it, but that's life), and explain why the rules are there and why they are sensible rules to accept. Not just 'because I say so'. But equally, if there is a compromise where everyone is happier, then strive towards it. It isn't 'letting the children win', it's just part of being a family where you all try to do what is best for all the members of that family, individually and as a whole.

Tolly81 Tue 19-Feb-13 05:14:59

I'd agree with others about staggered bedtimes and/or still having your dw do her bedtime at least some of the time. The main reason I would say that is that until ds came along, you seemed to suggest that your dw always put her to bed. An intelligent 2yo will certainly have noticed the link. It is unfair to expect her to not only accept a new sibling who gets lots of attention during the day but also to be moved firmly to second place at bedtime on its arrival. Tbh, I'm surprised she's allowed you to do as many bedtimes as she has. There is no danger here of being too soft - it is very natural for a 2yo child to cry for their mother at bedtime and I don't think it's overly permissive for your dw to go in and give her a kiss goodnight/read a story. If she's still crying for her even if dw had been in once to settle her then I think it's ok to then explain that her dm needs to feed her db and gently remind her that she's had attention from both of you but to expect zero contact from her dm at bedtime seems unrealistic. If you'd started taking turns with bedtimes prior to the arrival of ds things would be a bit different but you are sending her a clear message that now ds is here, he comes first with mummy. That's not fair on her and I feel doesn't set you up well for avoidance of sibling rivalry in the future.

Iggly Tue 19-Feb-13 08:52:15

I will add that I doubt that your dd is capable of lying - that comes a bit later (as in doing it deliberately iyswim). And yes to staggered bedtimes. Your dd will be feeling pushed out because of baby - even though it's 7 months down the line. There's always sibling rivalry! It never goes away.

Iggly Tue 19-Feb-13 08:53:59

I would also add there aren't just two types of parenting out there - child led vs parent led. Forget what your friends have done - you don't know the whole story. Try and find a middle ground

nilbyname Tue 19-Feb-13 09:04:11

When DH is away I get both mine ready for bed together, then my DS (now 4, was 2.9 at the time of new baby) would get a story with the baby and me in our room. Lots of hugs and kisses, a lots of tucking in with the baby. Then I would put him in his room with a story CD and I would come back once I had the baby down. 9/10 he would have gone to sleep.

As he got older I would do the same, and then let him watch one episode of something on Cbeeb i-player, something calm (not Gigglebiz!) while I fed and put baby down. Then up to bed with a story CD.

Sometimes I let the baby cry while he got my full attention. For 5 minutes. It is very hard.

oneortwoorthree Tue 19-Feb-13 09:18:38

Hi OP, I just read your post and the replies and thought it might be reassuring to hear that we have a similar situation.

My DH also has a great relationship with our DD who is 3 and a half, but he also has had to go through the "I don't like you I want mummy" thing at bedtime on a regular basis. About 6 months ago I decided that I no longer wanted to be the only responsible for putting DD to bed, partly because I was a bit fed up, partly because I think it is healthy for DD to be put to bed with DH as well as me, and partly because I was pregnant and knew that change was on its way! So I proposed that DH and I do alternate nights. (Up until then DH only put DD to bed if I was out, which wasn't often) At first it was fine, and then about a month or two before the baby was due DD started to complain and cry etc when it was DH's turn. DH found it hard and often asked me to take over, which annoyed me even though I understand it is not nice being told you are not loved etc by your beloved DD!

Anyway, basically our solutions have been: a) distraction (what books are we going to read then? etc), b) reasoning (mum put you to bed yesterday, so today it is dad's turn) and c) giving in when she makes a real fuss and I go up after books etc and sit with her til she falls asleep.

I understand what people are saying about staggering bedtimes, but our DD2 is not even a month old yet and often feeds endlessly from 7/8pm til about 11pm, so that is not an option for us yet! I definitely think however that the emphasis must be put on the fact that being to put to bed by dad is a positive thing, and not using the baby as the reason mum can't do it.

Hope that is helpful! Good luck!

Barbeasty Wed 20-Feb-13 16:55:38

In our house DH puts DD (2.5) to bed, while I look after DS (10 weeks).

Once she's had her story and is properly in bed she gets a mummy cuddle, while DH looks after DS.

She knows that the mummy cuddle will happen, even if she has to wait while I finish a feed or change a nappy.

It's a nice way for us both to finish the day, discus what we did that day/ what will happen the next day or just be a bit silly.

So far, so good.

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