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Wife won't let me look after our daughter on my own away from her

(96 Posts)
g33k Fri 21-Nov-14 15:13:12

Our DD is only just 12 months old, and I'd like to take her into town (about 20 miles away) when I meet an old friend. I'd drive with her to the park and ride, take her in on the bus in a stroller or sling, and then meet the friend in a café.

My wife is point blank refusing to allow it on the grounds that I "can't be trusted with her;" that I'll do something stupid or inadvertently do something not in her best interests. And were that to happen, she'd be too far away to sort out the mess I'd made.

Throughout our daughter's life my wife has been very protective of her. I've previously offered to take her to see each of my parents (each an hour and a half away) and she's vetoed that.

And yes, I've looked after her on my own at least a few times (e.g. when my wife has worked late or had an evening out, and a day and a half this week at home when our daughter was off nursery ill). In each of these cases my wife hasn't been (logistically) very far away.

I'm at a loss for what to do. I don't see the risks that she does, and know that I can take care of our daughter well enough. I can't force the issue by "just taking her regardless" as that would only lead to animosity. I'm left in a situation where my wife is excluding me from making decisions and exerting full control over our daughter, for whom we both have shared responsibility. And as far as I can see there's nothing I can do to change that.

I would say "AIBU?" but I'd rather have some constructive advice on how to improve the situation.

HennaFlare Fri 21-Nov-14 15:15:26

Why do you think your wife feels this would be unsafe? Has she given an example of a situation she would manage differently to you hypothetically? Has there been a previous problem? I'm struggling to see why an otherwise mentally healthy adult would feel so fearful she would prevent a child spending time with her father.

DuelingFanjo Fri 21-Nov-14 15:22:03

What sort of risks?

Has there been any occasion where her safety was in danger when in your care?
Or has your wife cited dangerous behaviour.

Other than that it seems a bit strange - could she be suffering from PND or is this something you could built up to gradually?

Hamuketsu Fri 21-Nov-14 15:26:09

Is the problem for her that you've never looked after your dd away from home without your wife being present? I'm also struggling to find the reasoning. Was there (for example) a time that if your wife hadn't been there, your dd would have been in danger?

Either you aren't capable, and your wife is right. In that case, you need to learn. Or you already are capable, in which case she needs to find a way of believing that.

Either way, could you do a trial run to learn the ropes/calm her fears? If you don't find some way of showing her that you are to be trusted - or making sure that this really is the case - then it'll only get worse once your dd is walking steadily and can run away from you.

Thurlow Fri 21-Nov-14 15:29:56

My SIL did this to my brother for years. She has got better, but I suspect it was related to PND (I knew nothing about it at the time but when I fell pg and started attending classes etc a lot of what they said rang bells). It was very sad for everyone. I remember a stage where she wouldn't even let toddler DN go up into another room with anyone but her when family were visiting.

If it is something similar then it sounds like it is related to PND. It is an anxiety, which might make it more difficult to deal with. I'm sorry I'm no expert on that but hopefully someone else will come along with practical suggestions. But I wanted to say if it is an anxiety issue then it isn't you, or anything you have or haven't done.

Does your wife leave the baby with anyone else? You mention work - is your DD in childcare at all? Has anything happened that could have triggered this?

In my opinion it is worth pressing on this and trying to encourage her to gradually work through her anxieties. It can have a huge impact on everyone - parents, grandparents - when they are made to feel that they cannot be trusted or even are going to somehow damage or willfully neglect a child.

g33k Fri 21-Nov-14 15:30:06

Anxiety; "what if?"-ery. I don't think it's rational, and she hasn't been very specific. She's said that our daughter "isn't a toy to be passed around"*, but a) I think that at 12 months she's beyond that anyway, and b) I've provided guarantees that that wouldn't happen.

* the friend is in town to visit various friends, so there'd likely be other people I know there too

There will have been events that have confirmed her in her views (e.g. me slipping over backwards when coming down the stairs while holding her, her falling and hurting herself when I was looking after her), but nothing that resulted in more than crying and maybe a small bump.

g33k Fri 21-Nov-14 15:38:05

Our daughter is in nursery in the town where we live and she works. I do think that part of it is her not being nearby; she's said I can take her out in the town where we live, but not further afield. (sorry for not addressing that response to anyone in particular!)

Thurlow: Thank you for the anecdote. Did getting better "just happen", or did any of the people involved manage to help her to become less anxious about it?

TarkaTheOtter Fri 21-Nov-14 15:43:53

I think she needs to learn to handle this. I can sort of understand the underlying feeling - my dh took dd camping at around 16m and I found it psychologically difficult to have her so far away. It wasn't that I thought he couldn't cope though, more that I was worried something might randomly happen and I wouldn't be there for her. BUT I would never have stopped him and it was actually really good for me to have alone time and for them to spend some serious time together without me there too.

DoItTooJulia Fri 21-Nov-14 15:47:10

Is it because it's town? Not a child friendly place like soft play?

Maybe that's the key? Starting at places designed for kids and showing her you are capable.

Perhaps the first trip away being somewhere busy and unpredictable isn't the best 'first'.

Sounds tough for you, and her. Hope you work it out.

Time2beme Fri 21-Nov-14 15:47:45

Is it perhaps the traveling she's worried about (is your dd happy and content in car) or the fact that she believes you'll be distracted when you are with others? I've found it tricky to balance ours daughters needs and my husbands want to spend more time alone with her. It the old the more you do it the more you'll learn and the better you'll get. We have a just 16 month old and we don't play pass the baby either, nor do we allow other adults to take her out of room at large family gatherings without one of us being there. I have to honestly say my husband can only do one thing at once, he took our dd to park with a friend the other day and our did had had three accidents two of which could've been prevented if he hasn't been talking by his own admission.

Talk honestly with your wife, and try and find out what her concerns are. Build up a plan of longer trips but perhaps take it slow and steady. If your wife is struggling with Pnd encourage her to get help. You're both your daughter father and your wife husband and I'm sure all three of you will get there very soon.

NickiFury Fri 21-Nov-14 15:52:30

What will you be doing when you meet your friend? My ex's idea of meeting up with old friends was in the Pub and a few pints, I wasn't comfortable with that for my very young children. Will it be a child friendly place? Do you take a full and active role in her practical care? Are you in tune with your dd?

Rightly or wrongly these were my concerns when my childrens father wanted to take them out and my concerns were valid. I'm not saying it's the case for you, just putting forward why she might feel as she does.

Pagwatch Fri 21-Nov-14 15:59:24

I am curious about the meet up too.
My DH took the children out and did everything with them from birth really, he now takes them to rugby matches or swimming or out to eat. But he wouldn't take them to meet with a friend - it wouldn't occur to either of us. If I am going to meet up with friends I don't usually want to take my children, not just so I cn talk but because my friends would be polite but other people's children are dull.

Why don't you start with more baby appropriate trips to get her used to it. Would that help?

OhGood Fri 21-Nov-14 15:59:46

I'd just like to echo concerns about PND, purely based on the experience of one of my friends who was diagnosed with PND - this horrible crushing anxiety whenever her DC was out of a few very controlled areas was a symptom.

It might be useful for you to keep in mind that even if these concerns and anxieties sound completely overblown to you (and potentially others in your family) they will be very very real to your wife.

It sounds like you both need lots of very honest conversations and patience. Good luck, and to echo timetobe I hope you will all 3 get there in the end.

Thurlow Fri 21-Nov-14 16:00:42

It has its ups and downs. DB seems to be used to it now and it doesn't seem to cause them problems, though it has had a big knock-on effect on the families (from both sides).

I would ask you wife to try and explain what exactly it is that is worrying her. Is it where you will be, how you will get there, the friends you were meeting? Is it something tangible you can talk through and discuss scenarios?

g33k Fri 21-Nov-14 16:03:37

DoItTooJulia: It's a town we've both been to together on numerous occasions, both with sling and stroller/buggy. The three of us have done cafés together and I've learned e.g. that it's a good idea to keep your drink at arm's length wink. She's seen me in that scenario and I think I've demonstrated that I can cope.

Time2beme: She's normally fine in the car. Our parents all live at least 1.5hrs away, and she's usually quite content. She hasn't mentioned any worry about me being distracted…

NickiFury: It's not been decided yet, but I was planning on it not being a pub (there are plenty of pubs around that would be suitable and quiet and serve coffee, but I thought it best to have fewer thing that could be objected to). It'd be during the day, and I'm sure we could choose somewhere quiet.

DuelingFanjo Fri 21-Nov-14 16:05:02

So this is a specific event that she is objecting to?

Does she have issues with the people involved?
Will there be drinking?

Could these be reasons why?

SirChenjin Fri 21-Nov-14 16:08:45

Could you perhaps go into town as a couple, and then you head off with your DD to meet your friend while she does some shopping, with you 'in charge' of the stroller/sling on the journey? I know it's not ideal, but it might help allay some of her worries.

It does sound as if she's struggling a bit with mental ill health (from personal experience), but it's hard if she's not acknowledging there is a problem.

Also - 'old friend'? Does she not like this old friend, or does she have anything to worry about? Could this be why she's trying to prevent you from going?

BrokenButNotFinished Fri 21-Nov-14 16:11:08

I would echo others that mental health issues could be at the root of this. As the child gets older, this will start to affect them, if it continues - and not just in terms of impaired relations.

I would mainly like to say, however, that the safety 'transgressions' you raise don't sound that major to me. And I'm sure that many mothers would admit to having done something which could technically endanger a baby's safety. (Don't put babies on beds they say. They roll, they say. Who knew how far?? blush)

BrokenButNotFinished Fri 21-Nov-14 16:13:18

There is also a certain amount of research out there regarding the so-called 'maternal gatekeeper'. (Make of it what you will - I've only read some)

LIZS Fri 21-Nov-14 16:15:14

Can your wife not come too , then take dd out for a bit in town if she becomes restless ?

Wolfbasher Fri 21-Nov-14 16:21:10

Do you do stuff at home for your DD? Feed her (proper meals, not just a biscuit smile ) Bath her and put her to bed? Change her nappies? Take her with you and keep her entertained while you get errands/chores done?

I've always been happy for my DH to take the DC off with him, but he does all those things at home, so I would always assume that he would anywhere else too.

By the way - I have always found it a frustrating disaster to take a small child along with me to a meetup with a friend (unless they also have a small child). It's absolutely impossible to have any sort of decent conversation, and if the friend is childless, they don't really get it. But maybe other people have more accommodating small DC than mine were!

strawberryshoes Fri 21-Nov-14 16:27:27

Have you explained how this makes you feel?

Have you explicitly said that her lack of trust in your parenting, without her being able to give specific worries, or reasons for worry, is making you feel sad, upset, and like she does not see you as an equal and is not showing you respect as a parent.

If so, how does she respond?

You said you think it is about the distance she will be from the child, rather than the specifics of the event, I know some people are very anxious about their children, and being away from them can be very stressful, but I have not heard of it lasting to the 12 month age (made me think of PND too actually). How is she overall and in herself? Is she generally anxious or nervous about your daughter?

BackforGood Fri 21-Nov-14 16:33:47

If she doesn't have a history, prior to the birth of your dd, of treating you like a child, then it does sound very much like some kind of PND. You need to get her to recognise this level of anxiety is not normal, and support her to get help.

longtallsally2 Fri 21-Nov-14 16:34:28

I would echo this being a PND or PNA (post natal anxiety) problem, and remember feeling exactly the same. Having given birth my whole being was tuned to protecting my pfb, and I was desperate to stay close in case of a problem. Imagine my child crying for me and me not being there! It was propounded by him being a milk monster and feeding regularly, so I had an excuse to hang onto him.

I was 'cured' to some extent when ds1 got away from me and for a heart stopping moment, nearly died on my watch, and I realised that I was not better at protecting him than his dad.

Approach it gently with her - don't just march her off to the GPs demanding a cure. Don't worry about this particular day, instead, focus on reassuring your dw, and want her to have some time off sometime - perhaps she could go out with girl friends once a week, or for a day at a weekend, and you look after dd. Then keep an eye out for other ways in which you can support her. Let her build up confidence in you again; suggest things for your dd, but listen to your wife and ask her what to do too so that she really feels that you are a team in this.

My dh sat back and let me work it out for myself - with a bit of help from MN. It took us a while.

Hope that you get things back on track - this day out has flagged up a bigger issue, which hopefully you can start to work on soon.

g33k Fri 21-Nov-14 17:10:07

Thank you all for your suggestions; they've all been helpful. Sorry for not having time to reply in more detail.

I'll talk with her about it again tonight, and see where we can get to.

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