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Neutral opinions on how XH is dealing with DD5 sudden nighttime anxiety(27 Posts)
Sometimes I need other perspectives before things go hurtling towards WWlll.
Split since DD was nearly 2. She stays with XH 1-2 nights a week. Things have never been plain sailing. He was EA to me and I am very wary of signs he pulls the same shit on her.
She's never been a sleeper. As a baby was always up more than average in the night. He of course never heard her and in two years never got up with her.
She only really just started sleeping through with no issues when school started. A couple of months ago, she became unsettled again. Back to asking to sleep in my bed, some bad dreams, went from only being able to sleep in pitch black to needing the light on because she was scared of the dark, coupled with general extra clinginess during the day. Normal 5-year-old stuff I think.
Ex was of the opinion I must be indulging her and not being firm enough as it wasn't really happening at his. I don't think allowing a 5 year old to get in for a cuddle and then taking her back to bed after a nightmare and buying her a torch and nightlight is over indulgent personally so whatever.
Today me and DD are having a chat as I am
trying to get to the bottom of a couple of her fears as she now suddenly won't use our downstairs bathroom.
During the course of this conversation she told me daddy doesn't wake up when she cries for him in the night. And if she goes to him to wake him up, he turns over and keeps sleeping .
She said recently she was crying and couldn't get out of her room and was frightened because it was dark. Apparently he's started shutting the door properly (which she can't open herself) because he doesn't like her coming into his room.
I find this upsetting.
I am of course going to tell him shutting her in her room is out of order. I can already hear the arguments that come back when I tell him he cannot leave our daughter crying and frightened in the dark in the middle of the night.
He always said he couldn't help the fact he's a deep sleeper. It's horse shit.
I would be so sad for my dd and not be happy at all. If you raise it, it will create drama, but my feeling is that you need to stick up for and validate your daughters anxieties and support her to work through it. Your XH needs to be told to be more gentle with her emotions, poor kid. for you
Will he agree to no overnights? Or can you re-organise access through the courts?
Is there a court order?
If not you can stop her going overnight if he is effectively locking her in a room overnight . Call nspcc for advice.
Is the anxiety coming out elsewhere? School? Speak to school.
Have a word with gp about services for anxiety issues e.g. play therapy.
No, he'd never agree to no overnights. He's always wanted 50/50 but I've always resisted, mainly for this reason, because I've never fully trusted him not to be an utter selfish twat.
On the surface, he's a doting dad and they have a great relationship. Over time though, he's said and done some very questionable things but I'd never be able to prove he is unsuitable.
So while 50/50 will happen over my dead body, I doubt I'd ever be able to stop overnights altogether in court. I'd worry he'd get more and I'd be even more powerless.
cestlavielife I'd put DDs bad dreams and new fear of the dark, down to a phase and a five year olds developing imagination. She's sensitive but isn't anxious all the time.
Do you think this sounds like something that needs outside help?
If he is treating her like this, and won't listen to you then I would definitely seek help (go to GP). Maybe he will listen to a professional, if the try to speak to him. You will need to follow any advice they give.
I would certainly look at support outside. It may well be that this will be useful in how you deal with him. He is clearly adding to her anxieties, and his behaviour is affecting her even with you.
It might be better for her not to stay over at this point (or ever). The more evidence you get the better. In the best case scenario he will take on what is being said, and help to support her.
I think going the way of some professional advice will be helpful. It moves the "blame" game away from you when it comes to discussing DDs anxiety.
However, as much as it annoys you, when DD is with him, he is the parent and his style is a legitimate as yours. I dont think courts will take too much notice of your opinion in this matter if you tried that route. They'd take professional advice though so, again, I would try to use that to get to the bottom of what has brought this on. In some respects, the best you can do is help your DD not have the nightmares etc, rather than focus on your ex failures to deal with them how you wish.
How do I go about getting professional advice? I honestly think that if I go to he GP, they'd just say it's normal for a five year old to have bad dreams and become more unsettled at night and the way to deal with it is to comfort her and let her have lights on.
It's not that he has a different parenting style that is annoying me. There's lots of things we do differently and by and large that's life. It's that I think shutting a little girl in her bedroom at night when she is afraid of the dark is cruel. And the thought that she is afraid and crying for him to come and no one does, makes my heart break for her.
I am doing everything I can do stop her having nightmares, but it isn't going to stop if she's being treated like that 1 or 2 nights a week.
I don't think this way of "parenting" has been thought out as a parenting technique but more as the easiest way to prevent his sleep from being interrupted.
But I did want to hear if anyone thought that is an acceptable way to parent before I went in all guns blazing, so thanks
Going to the GP puts it on official record that you have concerns. They will be able to refer you to additional resources that highlight, for example, closing doors and separating children from the rest of the family when they are anxious is a really bad thing. Use these additional resources to tell your ex to try something different as thats what the professionals say.
Heavy sleepers can be really hard to rouse though. I can miss the dog coming up onto the bed and once slept through the room being vacuum cleaned. When I have been travelling and am late home, DP likes me to say hello and that I am back. Often the response is basically why are you waking me up, go away, and straight back to sleep.
Not really an answer to your initial question but what are these bad dreams? Would it be possible for her to share them with you, maybe through drawings and gentle supportive talk?
Her dreams and fears are mainly about death and ghosts. The school she goes to is a CofE School and has become a bit obsessed with death and God and heaven. I think it's probably magnified by the fact my mum is seriously ill.
Neither Ex or me are religious. I try to reassure her and answer her questions in a way that will settle her insecurities about what she's learning at school as I am trying to let her make her own mind up about these things and I tend to think that she is just five, she's just starting to learn that people die, if believing in heaven helps, so be it. But ex is vehemently atheist and won't couch his beliefs for her to make her feel better for the sake of "honesty". This troubles her.
Friends with kids the same age say they are having similar issues with more bad dreams and disturbed nights and the whole 'mortality' realisation. So I don't think this phase is extreme or unusual. But I don't think DD's circumstances are going to help her get over it quickly. I'm worried it could be a bit damaging to be honest. I might be overreacting.
I get that some people are deep sleepers and difficult to rouse. I can be a deep sleeper but I always seem to hear her. If she came to me, I certainly wouldn't turn my back.
Even if it's not ignoring her until she goes away and it's genuinely being unable to hear her because of a deep sleep, it's not any more reassuring.
There was an incident several months ago where she injured her arm, a dislocated wrist. I questioned why she'd been taken to AandE in the morning and not the previous evening when it happened. I was told it was because it hadn't bothered her and she'd seemed fine.
DD then told me she'd been crying in the night with the pain and he hadn't heard her. Fortunately his DM had been staying and she went to her instead.
That's awful. She's scared, she ain't being naughty. She needs to be comforted and allowed the light on etc.
One of my children was sleeping fine for about 6 months (after cosleeping) until his sister showed him scary YouTube films. For the next year he stopped being able to sleep on his own or go anywhere in the house unless the light was on. He said that it was his imagination but it still scared him. He now sleeps in his own room but with fairy lights on. It started when he was 4 and he's now 7. He's ok now that he can reach the lights but still wants the fairy lights on.
I'm scared of spiders and even though i know they can't harm me, I'd be petrified to be in a dark room where i knew there were spiders. You can't get angry at children's fears, you have to gently make them more and more comfortable with it.
Ain't?? Isn't! Weird autocorrect - i never use ain't!!
I know cricrichan they should just be allowed to do what they need to do to feel safe. I don't think he is doing it out of punishment, he's doing it because he thinks she's being a little manipulative and he wants to be firm.
I often get annoyed that he invalidates her. Her wrist injury is a recurrent one and I've taken her to A&E with it 3 times. The first two times he thought I was over reacting taking her as he thought she was putting it on and attention seeking.
Along with her fears of the dark at night, she's become moe clingy and dislikes being alone. A few weeks ago he told me he'd been considering leaving her home alone while he went to the shop (a five minute drive away) . I was horrified because apparently the only thing that stopped him from leaving her was the fact she became so upset and begged not to be left. Which I'm thankful for because a short while ago, she'd have been well up for it. I asked him what planet he's from and he said that he understood now it's wrong.
I wonder if he has left her alone and neither of them are saying. She is good at keeping secrets for him and I don't want to press her.
It's these things that worry me, these basic instincts about what's right for your child thAt he doesn't seem to have
I'd try working on helping her to self-sooth. Get her to take a favourite soft toy or blanket when she goes to stay and if she wakes in the night, tell her to cuddle her soft toy/blanket until she goes back to sleep.
She's at the age where she can begin to self regulate and I'd even suggest that she takes something of yours, like a scarf or a hat that has your smell on it to help her to self-sooth and remain calm.
They of all sorts of fears at that age. Their imaginations are in overdrive and they pick up on things that adults would just brush off. If your ex isn't sensitive to the worries and fears of small children, then your daughter can't really express how she feels just yet. She won't have the vocabulary just yet.
My daughter used to sing to herself when she was feeling scared. Is that something your daughter could try? I found that lots of cuddles and telling them how much I loved them helped too. Its hard for little ones coping with change and disruptions to their routines.
He may not be able to help being a deep sleeper but he is able to leave the door open!
I am just going to say it.... he sounds like a right bastard!
To essentially lock your daughter in a room on her own when she is scared of the dark, to consider leaving her home alone at 5 (5!!!) to say a child is attention seeking when they need medical attention is frankly abuse. Leaving her home alone I am sure would be of interest to the authorities. I know someone who was reported to the police for leaving a child aged 5 in a car for 15 mins.
Not coming to her in the night when she is calling for him is neglect.
I am sorry but he sounds like a lazy selfish loser. For ppl saying his parenting style us "valid" since when is locking a scared frightened child in a dark room "valid" parenting style?!
I'd make a log of these incidents and consider that maybe your daughters anxiety is caused by a neglectful lazy arse of a dad who ignores her when she is crying or needs medical help.
**Must clarify calling him in the night, she has done because she was scared and in pain cos of a wrist injury. In that case I would call it neglect (not that in every instance a parent should come to a child in the night)!!
I agree with PP, locking your DD in a dark room overnight when he knows she is scared is not a 'difference in parenting style'. If he understands how cruel he is being, it's abusive; if he's just being stupid and arrogant, it's neglectful,
Keeping a record of incidents is a really good idea. I would be seeking to stop overnights before he does any more damage.
If he won't change his approach, could you at least get her a soft toy that lights up when you press it to take with her so her room isn't totally dark?
Your DDs anxieties and fears are really common, and both my DDs went through the same at a similar age.
Your DDs father is an absolute arse! It's abusive because it's neglect.
Not comforting a frightened and distressed child isn't different parenting, it's crap parenting.
In fact, anyone who doesn't comfort their child when he or she is frightened and distressed is an awful human being, never mind a terrible parent.
Yes anxieties are normal. But You have nothing to lose by speaking to gp .you don't need to take dd. There may be local services available.
Read with her the big bag of worries by Virginia ironside.
If gp says "well if she scared leave light on" and your ex is refusing to do that for her then you know something is wrong.
He thought it was ok to leave a 5 year old home alone ?
Call nspcc helpline
Keep a log.
Ask ex to go to mediation to lay things out in a parenting agreement.
Speak to school... if her grandmother is sick she may need some support.
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