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Help / Opinions required please, 4 year old DSD suddenly very clingy with mother

(9 Posts)
MrsDavies Tue 15-Oct-13 14:09:46

my DSD went through this stage also when she was 4, I think it has a big link to starting school and probably being a lot more tired. she used to get upset at bedtime and say that she just missed her mum but she didn't know why. even though it was hard for us, and break my DH's heart a little as he felt she didn't love him or want him as much, we just reassured her that mummy was fine and was probably out with friends, and that she would see her soon, etc. we never her let her call at bedtime as this would make the situation 10 times worse, but would sometimes tell DSD when upset she could call mummy in the morning - most of the time she didn't even remember about wanting her mum in the mornings. she eventually grew out of it, she is 6 soon and we don't have any problems with her at bedtimes now. we never changed our routine or access time with her (we have her alternate nights Friday or Saturday every weekend) and I think that helped as she knew on the weekend she saw daddy. hope she settles down soon for you both smile

Natanotherone Mon 14-Oct-13 13:46:59

There has never been a need for calls before but as she is clingy has been asking to speak to her mum. It's much worse during the call and after we usually get happy DSD back but during her mum will say things like "if you are upset I will come get you" so DSD starts saying yes and DH says no, you are staying here tonight and then DSD starts screaming uncontrollably. I was forced to say
"Bye mummy, love you" and hang the phone up the other night but then DH got a phone cal after shouting how dare your wife hang up on me, but she was making things worse...

It's just ridiculous, she is making out we are bad parents and should do whatever to make DSD happy, says she doesn't understand why she doesn't want to sleep at daddy's and it's nothing to do with the change in school etc. it's quite frankly upsetting sad x

Latemates Mon 14-Oct-13 08:50:13

if mum isn'tsupportive it can be very hard sad

it sounds like your are all doing the best things. consistency is key really. if mum wont budge on her weekends then SD staying friday till sunday evening sounds a fair compromise to me.
mum just sounds like a nightmare, clingy person who is likely causing your step daughters anxiety.

is she worseduring or just ater a cal to mum?

we find kids can be very happy till the phone call then go into an imediate downer as soon as they are phoned then usually switch back straight after. they have learnt that mum is happiest if they sound upset here.
occationally there are issues after call - depending on what is said to them this can be feelings of guilt, worry that mum isnt coping without them, or because they have been prompted to ask for something.
irronically, when mum is busy, she can mis calling all weekend, and SKs are far happier.

could you limit calls to see if that has a positive effect - being out at normal time of call maybe

Natanotherone Mon 14-Oct-13 08:32:38

I've suggested changing the contact slightly for a while, we ended up having Friday and Saturday this weekend and she went home after tea on Sunday rather than to school Monday morning, I suggested two nights one weekend and one the next so that she is getting regular contact, but his ex has said no... That it's her weekend and she isn't giving up time.

Well we do loads of activities with her and she loves swimming but hates getting a shower after, her mum has never taken her swimming... However she has said to DSD that if she doesn't want to get a shower after she doesn't have to and to tell daddy that she can have a bath when she gets in. It's stuff like that she says / does to undermine us! I've had to say no, you get a shower to wash your hair after swimming because we don't usually go straight home... It's just little things.

The relationship we have with her is irreparable, she constantly tells us we need to give DSD what she wants and that we need to take parenting classes, when we took her abroad in May she called us bad parents for taking our then 6 month old DS away as in her opinion children don't need to go abroad... We are dealing with someone who thinks she is always wrong and does encourage this clingy behaviour.

When she got a boyfriend (lasted 4 months) DSD wanted to be with us all the time because "I'm not mummy's best friend anymore, boyfriend is... When I'm here with you and daddy we are all best friends" now that has fallen apart I feel like ex needs DSD and is just as clingy with her. She gets full attention from her mum as they live with grandparents who clean / iron / cook, so her mum can give her full attention! Here we can't always give her that because I need to make tea / wash up and she has to wait 10 / 15 minutes sometimes for me to get something.

It's difficult and upsetting everyone.

I'm assuming she will just grow out of it?


HopLittleFroggiesHopSkipJump Sun 13-Oct-13 13:26:34

Also, you said you think her mum might be encouraging it deliberately or not, is the relations between you both and her completely irreparable?

Could your DP have a civil conversation with her and get her to agree to all go somewhere like softplay together? Me and my ex used to absolutely hate eachother but we get on ok now, but I don't think we would if we hadn't both pushed ourselves to spend time together with DD and fake the small talk until we realised we'd probably both blown things out of proportion in our heads! I think people always seem worse when you're not face to face!

HopLittleFroggiesHopSkipJump Sun 13-Oct-13 13:21:22

I agree that splitting the time might help - Friday to Monday then back to a week of school is a long time to not see mum at that age (and dad too depending on who children are going through a clingy phase with).

Could you suggest Fri pick up - around 5 on sat one weekend, then sun morning until Mon drop off the other weekend?
That way its only 1 overnight in a row and won't feel so long. It never did to me anyway, I used to prefer one overnight with dad when I was younger as I knew I was seeing mum the next day, can remember crying and crying when we went for longer during holidays until about about year 5 blush though I was a very clingy child!

Do you think it will help to break the routine a bit (if you're not already), maybe take her to pick a new toy after school next time she's going to be staying over, or go swimming or an activity to take her mind off mum?

purpleroses Sun 13-Oct-13 10:51:19

My DS went though a phase of not much wanting to go to his dad's at about that age. I would say it probably is related to starting school and missing her mum. Her mum may also be missing her, and therefore wishing she wasn't away from her half the weekends, and so DSD picking up on this too. But most unhelpful of her mum not to be supporting the contact.

Would it be possible to change the pattern of contact without changing the total amount? What about one night every week, (eg 4pm Friday til 4pm Saturday), rather than for a whole weekend?

Latemates Sat 12-Oct-13 10:50:04


Firstly we have been where you are and i know how difficult it can be ....

the issue has likely started due to SD starting school and therefore not seeing mum during day, however, this is likely to have occurred the same if her parents were still together but in this situation mum couldn't claw time back as there would be no where to take time back. SD would prob be then asking to not go to school as she misses mummy too much. But I very much doubt mum would be saying to school that it is too upsetting for her to be away from mummy so I wont be sending her to school, she would be working with the school to help her daughter settle into life.
If mum thinks she needs to make daughter happy at any cost then what will she do when she asks for more and more growing up, SD crying because she wants a horse is she just going to buy her one.

What makes it difficult at the moment is that she is getting distressed while with you. But your right if she just stops her coming it will not help at all.

How would you partner feel about suggesting a slight change to arrangement until xmas while SD readjusts to school and then a return to current arrangement. This change could be a alteration but not a reduction to time SD spends with you.

For example splitting weekend so that she spends each weekend with both parents - one weekend with Dad friday from school till sat evening, following weekend with dad sat evening till school on monday.

This has the advantage of meaning changes to mums weekends and too not just increasing her time with daughter. Its a temp measure as eventually every other weekend would be preferable as means both parents are able to plan weekends.

Do you have a court order from last year? If yes mum would need to take you back to court for a variation or you would need to take it back to court for breach of order if mum just stops contact.
This is a good way to look like you are trying to work with mum to facilitate contact and SD well being. Her well being includes having a full relationship with both parents and she needs proper real family time with her dad to maintain a meaningful relationship with him.

Make sure all suggestions your partner makes leave a papertrail (ie email, recorded letter, keep text messages etc).

Word everything as it is in SD best interest, SD needs etc

Good luck -

Natanotherone Fri 11-Oct-13 20:18:26

My 4 year old DSD (will be 5 in December) has visited us alternate weekends for three years ish... We went through a period last year where we ended up in court but we have her from school every other Friday to school the following Monday as well as Wednesday from school until 6.30.
She started full time school last month and since then she just doesn't want to be here with us, she screams and cries for her mum when she gets tired, the last two times DH has allowed her to leave early on the weekend... As she was obviously quite distraught and missed her mummy.
We don't have a good relationship with her mum and I do feel she encourages this behaviour, however I collected DSD from school and she immediately told me "mummy says I have to call her after my tea" I said ok, no problem... Got home, had a play, made tea and she started sobbing "I want my mummy" ok I said finish your tea and you can give her a call... "Mummy says she will come get me after tea" is what I then got called.
DH has been on phone with his ex and she's saying that we should give DSD what she wants to make her happy, and if being happy means being with her mum then we should allow it.
I think we would keep her in her routine and just try deal with it as best we can, she called her mum for a chat and her mum said she would come and get her... We had to say no... After the phone call she was fine, but upon going to bed has gotten upset again.
What do we do? Keep her in routine or give into her?
Her mum has just txt DH saying that if she finds out she was upset all weekend she won't be coming to us again.
I figured it was just the change with school etc that's affecting her, but her mum is basically accusing us of mistreating her or something.
Any opinions would be greatly received.
The only reasons DsD has given for not wanting to be here are:

I have to share with SB here, I don't have to share at mummy's (we have an 11 month old son)
I don't have lots of toys here (she has tons! But never plays with them)

Struggling, as don't want to be seen as horrible.... But don't want her not coming here anymore.

Many thanks

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