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DD wants to be with her daddy all the time

(25 Posts)
Licketysplit123 Tue 04-Mar-14 21:17:14

Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this? I'm really worried about my relationship with my daughter.

Me and XH split five months ago after a long time of splitting and trying again. He moved out to a friends while I found a new place to go with DD. He then moved back to the house we lived in, which he now owns.

DD is 2.5 and seems to be struggling. She sees him a lot, two overnights a week and an additional afternoon. She is always telling me she wants to go to daddy's house, or "home".

She plays up for me a lot but apparently doesn't for him. She throws tantrums as any two year old would, but also she will just sulk. And then she'll say she wants daddy. She doesn't do any of this in nursery either.

We've been in the new house two months now. I keep telling her I love her. I try not to react when she says she doesn't want me, I just give her a cuddle and tell her mummy loves her.

I'm not sure if its because whenever she sees him she goes to the old house. Or if its because he is a brilliant dad and its constant fun and games with him whereas with me, although I try to play as much as possible, there is also a lot of day to day things going on.

I'm really worried that she won't settle and I might lose her when she gets older

Offred Tue 04-Mar-14 21:23:12

It is likely because she's missing him and has the least secure relationship with him out of the two of you given she spends less time with him than you. I wouldn't read too much into it or make a big deal of it. Try to be as supportive to her as you can, seems like you are doing fine.

MatryoshkaDoll Tue 04-Mar-14 21:27:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Licketysplit123 Tue 04-Mar-14 21:27:59

Thanks, that's reassuring.

She actually sees so much more of him now then she ever did though.

Yesterday, I met them at a restaurant where they were having tea and she came home with me. She cried all the way saying she wanted to go home with daddy. It broke my heart and I just wanted to cry.

She often says she doesn't like the new house or her new room.

Licketysplit123 Tue 04-Mar-14 21:30:10

matry does she still see her mum as the bad guy?

I hope that's not the case with us, because in our case, I really am not

Offred Tue 04-Mar-14 21:32:51

It's a lot of change for a little girl. Children are good at coping with change and she'll be fine in the end I'm sure but children just say what they feel/think without considering other people's feelings. It might be the house as much as him.

I always think children don't love their parents when they are small like parents love them. What they have is an attachment. A child that is sharing her feelings, even if they are negative isn't poorly attached, I wouldn't worry about your position in her life. She's probably just expressing her sad feelings about the change.

My eldest two have always been a bit like this with my ex and he has not ever really bothered to be involved in their lives. I thought it was just them expressing their hurt at this really, thinking, like children do, that the reason their dad couldn't really be arsed was because of them not making enough effort to see him. They are little egocentric things!

wouldbemedic Tue 04-Mar-14 21:34:56

flowers OP. I'm so sorry. That must hurt like hell.

I'm not in your position, but also dealing with a two year old DD who only wants daddy. I'm disabled as a result of pregnancy and can't interact with her like he can. Like you, I worry that this will only get worse. But things can change so quickly. Looking around at my contemporaries, most of them rejected their mums for a while in their teens, only to pick things up again later in time for free childcare. My point is that nothing and no one replaces your mum. Not dads, not anything. If the arrangement was working the other way, I'm positive your DD would be in pieces at losing you for most of the week. Raging at you is possibly the only way she knows to express anger/hurt/fear at the situation. It hasn't been very long.

Licketysplit123 Tue 04-Mar-14 21:42:08

Thanks. A friend of mine told me I should say to her that it's not nice to say things like that, but I don't think that's a good idea? I do put want to ever make her think she can't express her feelings for the sake of mine.

I've started to feel like I can't do everyday things with her when she is at home, that I should always be doing fun things like her dad does. I try to as much as I can but its not always possible. And I don't want her to not be able to play on her own sometimes if needed. But I don't know if I should just compete, for want of a better word. I don't want to get into that trap though

StrawberryMojito Tue 04-Mar-14 21:50:37

I would disagree with what your friend says, don't make dd feel guilty.

I cannot speak from experience of your situation but what I can say is this. My 2.5 year old DS regularly whinges for which ever parent is NOT there at the time, particularly when the present parent is enforcing good behaviour or not engaging with him at that short moment in time because they are trying to do a chore.

I can't imagine how high maintenance he would be if we moved house. Relax though, he'll get over it.

Offred Tue 04-Mar-14 21:52:24

Don't tell her it's not nice and don't try and deliberately change your behaviour because of this. Carry on being the stable and secure influence in her life you always have been and take her words with a pinch of salt would be my advice. I don't think this is rejecting you so much as reacting to what she may see as a rejection from her dad IYSWIM?

Paleninteresting Tue 04-Mar-14 21:55:24

OP, that's so hard for you and her. Having been in a very similar situation there area couple of things I can recommend but only from my experience and some reading up. Is it possible to help her make some decorating choices for her new room? This or a similar project could help her create her own new home which she has made choices about. My DD benefitted from planting her own plants, choosing accessories for her room, having an input into creating the house routine and increasing in sense of control in small ways. Emphasising the strengths of your new life without commenting about Ex's is an excellent example for your DD.

Standinginline Tue 04-Mar-14 22:00:04

I think if it was vice versa she'd be the same (you moved out ,and her living with her dad ). Kids are going to miss the parent they don't see all the time ,not the one they live with all the time. Doesn't mean they love you any less. My son would be exactly the same ,he's such a daddy's boy ,follows him round constantly and always wants him to take him to bed in the evenings. But I know that if moved out he'd miss me.

Whilst the kids are young they don't look at the bigger picture ,like who does their washing ,who makes sure they're at school on time etc... It's little things like who treats them the most ,who lets them stay up to watch tv ,which is most likely going to be done by the parent they're visiting.

They'll eventually get to an age where they'll see you both as equal and appreciate what BOTH of you have done smile

redundantandbitter Tue 04-Mar-14 22:07:13

I get what you say about day to day stuff. My 2 DDs are older - 9 and 5 - but It doesn't have to 'fun' stuff. Don't put compete dad who has more time than you.

I make story time fun and special. We've started routines like climbing into my bed on a Sunday morning with books and toast.

I second the advice on staying stable . It can be boring being the one who does the chores but its good to put some music on and dance around the kitchen too!

MatryoshkaDoll Tue 04-Mar-14 22:30:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Cabrinha Tue 04-Mar-14 23:35:05

If you were still living together, she'd probably be going through a "daddy phase" and you'd think nothing of it!

I expect she feels very secure with you, and that's why she feels able to "reject" you. And she may well be reacting like this because he's in "home".

This absolutely does not set the story for the future!

Don't tell her not to say it, be pleased that she's expressing herself. Say brightly "it's a mummy day today, but you're seeing daddy tomorrow darling". Maybe say "now we're settling in a bit, shall we go and choose you some new bedroom things?" and let her choose a new duvet cover.

My 5yo told me recently that I had to call a taxi and load her things as she was moving in with daddy. (we're about 70/30, me/ him he has the old home) Turned out it was because he allows more iPad time. You just have to let it wash over you, no matter how it stings at the time.

I really think she's just having a daddy phase!

FolkGirl Wed 05-Mar-14 09:06:10

My daughter is 7 and she is similar. Her behaviour for me can be appalling. She hates me, she'd rather live outside than with me, Daddy loves her and is nice to her and I'm not...

But in reality it's because she's sad and she's hurting and she lacks the ability to articulate this and this is how it manifests.

She is more secure with me and he's already left once, what's to stop him from doing it again? So, in her head, she can't show him how she feels because he might abandon her completely.

She's confident I won't leave her, so she acts out to me.

Or maybe she's testing to see if I'll go too...

It's true, you really have to stay stable and let her express her feelings.

Deckmyballs Wed 05-Mar-14 09:10:38

My dd1 has a very strong relationship with her daddy and always has done. This was amplified when my dh started working away, it was awful. Dd1 screamed and tantrumed and hit and bit and everything you can imagine really, all for me, nothing for anyone else! sad
After around 3 months she started to calm down again and started asking me when he would be back and be happy with the answer she got without any upset so there is hope for you. I do find daily things difficult when he is around mind you as she wants him to do everything for her and me nothing! Shoes on, wash her hair, read her story, cut her dinner, the list is endless...

chaosagain Wed 05-Mar-14 10:18:41

As others have said: she expresses her feelings most clearly where she feels most secure - i.e. with you.

Be patient, steady and calm with her and try to lay aside how it makes you feel (although i can imagine that's hard). It really isn't that she doesn't want you. You're her safe place to show how she feels about all this change.

With so much change you're right to avoid competing with her dad for doing fun stuff. What she needs is routine, security and plenty of patience.

And remember the MN mantra of parenting: "this too shall pass".

FolkGirl Wed 05-Mar-14 10:46:52

This too shall pass has become my mantra for pretty much everything. I might have it printed onto a t shirt. It is so true. Just hold on to that thought smile

Poppylovescheese Wed 05-Mar-14 11:24:01

My ds was exactly like this when we split 7 years ago (he was 6) as my ex stayed in the house. He HATED the new house, his room, me etc etc. It did pass and he soon adapted. I worried myself sick so please try not to do the same

heliumheart Wed 05-Mar-14 11:28:28

I would imagine that a lot of her feelings are to do with associating daddy with her old home. I separated from my H when my DTs were just turned 3, and I have really noticed they have become incredibly attached to our 'home' (they are, at the moment, staying in the former matrimonial home with me - he moved out). I really think that the fact he has moved out has unsettled them as it has introduced the idea that 'people move', and 'places change'. Having never mentioned it before, they ask me regularly whether we will ever move from our house (I find it heartbreaking - I am desperate for us not to have to move but we may have to).

In your case, I really do think that any separation anxiety she is feeling from Daddy per se, is actually massively compounded by her association with her former home and the fact she is missing it. On a basic level she possibly does blame you because you are the person who she may perceive caused her to have to leave that home. Of course, you are not to be blamed but it is very painful to have to deal with our children's upset. It sounds to me as though you are handling it well and with compassion. It will get better.

Licketysplit123 Wed 05-Mar-14 12:41:06

Thank you so much everybody, reading this has made me feel so much better.

This too shall pass. That is comforting. I'm going to take her to buy things for her room at the weekend and just generally try to take it all in my stride a bit more

thanks

perfectstorm Wed 05-Mar-14 12:48:18

Just to back the rest up - my DS was like this at this age to the point it really hurt, and we're very happily married. He just works long hours and is the "fun parent" as I do all the grunt work (my choice, as I want them to have fun when he's at home - I had to tell DH to stop loading the dishwasher and go and play with his son) and so his time and attention is at a premium. He used to say "I love Daddy one hundred! And I love Mummy eleven..." which hurt, given I was a SAHM and running my whole life around him at the time. But then I was quite ill and had to go to hospital for a week, and his one visit was terrible as he realised I was very unwell and it terrified him to the point he had to be taken home again, and for a few months afterwards he was hugely clingy and a massive Mummy's boy - nobody but Mummy would do. It was a real eye-opener, and also rather humbling in that I was delighted when he was back to adoring Dad and taking me for granted, as I knew he was over the upset. They treat the parent they're most sure of this way - they can take us for granted. It's actually a compliment, because they are quite that certain we love them and will always be there. We offer no novelty. We're like the sofa: comfy, essential, but not noticed unless it's gone!

Thumbwitch Wed 05-Mar-14 12:55:06

I think it will certainly help her to feel more "at home" if you can make her room in the new place as similar to her old room as possible, but maybe with a few significant improvements? Then she'll get to feel that her new room is in fact an upgraded version of her old room, and like it better.

Would your ex be willing to part with a few things from her old room to create even more familiarity, or is your relationship not on that sort of friendly level?

She is almost certainly punishing you for taking her away from her familiar surroundings and family set-up - but it will pass. If there was any tension in the house hold when you were together, she will soon realise that she's more able to relax now as well.

There was a thread on here a short while ago where a woman left her abusive partner and took her 2 DDs to a refuge - the older one played up something terrible to start with, but it was suggested she was pushing the boundaries of her new situation, to see what they were now, because she'd been on eggshells for some time in the old situation. While I'm not saying for a second that your DD was on eggshells while you were together, she is probably doing the same thing - pushing her new boundaries to see where they are. And once she learns where they are, she'll settle down. smile

Hix Wed 05-Mar-14 13:28:58

My DD was like this at that age and me and DH were still together. I posted about it at the time and loads of people said 'this too shall pass' or words to that effect. And it has, though I didn't believe at the time that it would.

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