M. asks from Dallas, TX on October 18, 2007
Relationship Between Father and 17 Month Old
I have a 17 month old daughter, she has always been a "mommas girl" and goes through phases where she wants nothing to do with her dad. She is going through this phase right now and it is becoming increasingly difficult for her dad and I. She will scream when he tries to pick her up and run to me. Sometimes this will happen all night, sometimes it will get better after he has been home for awhile and sometimes it does not happen at all.
This is effecting my relationship with my husband because we differ at times on how we should handle this and it just creates a lot of tension in our home. Plus it really hurts him so he is not a happy guy.
He is a good man, he does not yell, fight, etc. I feel that it is not a reaction to him but more the fact that he is not me, he just thinks she does not like him.
Any advice on how to handle this? Does anyone have any good resources on this, I just want to make sure we are handling this right so that this phase will pass and things will get better.
S.B. answers from Dallas on October 18, 2007
M. - it is normal - in addition to your being her primary caregiver, she is also starting to identify with you because you are a girl. (beginning of gender identity) And also, she is starting the separation anxiety stage. So strike 3!!!
You didn't say how you were handling this, so I can't tell you if you're doing it right - not that there's even a right and wrong way...but you're concerned about the affect on your marriage, so obviously whatever you are doing, it doesn't matter if it's "right" as it's not helping with the harmony.
You didn't mention if you stay at home or work, but it does sound like you stay at home. So my advice is from that - I'd say you need to get her out and interact with other adults more so she gets a better comfort level with other people besides you. Separation anxiety at this age is really, really, tough as they are learning they are separate from you and that's pretty scary for them! So introduce new places and faces with you staying by her side to help to overcome the fears.
And as for at home with your husband, I'd suggest maybe your husband spend alone time with your daughter - where you actually leave the house - and let them work it out on their own. With you there to run intereference, she's more apt to retreat to her safety zone - you. So go sit at Starbucks for a half hour and read a magazine a few nights a week. She'll probably freak out when you leave, and maybe even the first time you're gone she may cry the whole time (because it's new). But your husband can come up with something "special" they can do together & then maybe she'll start looking forward to her daddy time.
And finally, yes, I promise it will get better! Okay, well, let me clarify - better with THIS particular crisis, and then she'll move right on to something else that will make you both crazy. Just stick with it, stick with each other, and try to laugh about things as often as you can.
Good luck - S.
1 mom found this helpful
E.T. answers from Dallas on October 18, 2007
this is normal. my son did it too. try giving them more alone time. my husband takes my son to get the car washed every weekend. my son loves sitting in the car while it's getting washed. they will also go get coffee together.
Also, try to find things to do in the evening that allows him to do the bedtime routine with her. when I'm home, I'm the only one who can put our son to bed, but when I'm not home, my son is perfectly fine having my husband do it.
Don't force anything right now though. example, my son asks me for some cheese. I ask hubby to do it. son says, 'no mommy do it.' Hubby gets it anyway, and puts it on the counter, tells son where it is. Son cries for about 30 seconds, then concedes and grabs the cheese.
J.H. answers from Dallas on October 19, 2007
I agree with the below posts. It is normal for children to prefer mommy since she is always there. To help though I suggest that daddy get more involved. It's really hard for moms not to intervene when daddy doesn't do things the "right" way. It's important to bite our tongues and let daddy and baby establish their own routines and relationships. It will also help your daughter get used to the fact that people do things differently and most times there is no "right" or "wrong" way. Try to go out at least once a month with girlfriends and leave daddy and his darling home. Don't place any demands on daddy maybe just a few suggestions ie: she could probably use a bath, bed time is around ____, She really like to play ____. Try not to call home during this time but take your cell phone in case daddy has questions. Let your husband know that you have full confidence in him to take care of your daughter by himself. This experience will help them bond and will give you so much needed girl time. When you get home don't complain if the house is a wreck (it probably will be) and if your daughter is dirty and not in bed. These things aren't that important. It's easier for moms to be nurturing but sometimes dads need extra encouragement. My kids and husband have a wonderful relationship. I learned early on to keep my mouth shut (as long as they weren't going to get hurt) and let my husband develop his own relationship with the kids. When my oldest was 8 months old, I practically pushed him out the door with her and a diaper bag and told him to take her to a Kindermusik concert. They had a great time and it helped him gain the confidence he needed to go somewhere alone with her. Now he takes all the kids out on his own volition. The kids think he's much more fun than me. And I can have some much needed alone time which makes me a better mommy.
A.G. answers from Dallas on October 18, 2007
My husband and I went through this with our now 5 year old daughter. Since I was with her all day, she was used to me doing everything for her. My husband would get his feelings hurt. We have twin boys who of course are mamas boys. He gets upset when they want me and only me to do things for them. They are fine when I am not around. Our daughter started being a Daddy's girl around the age of 2. It just happened. We made sure that she spent a lot of alone time with my husband. They went on special trips to the park, ice cream, whatever. I would make sure to give them that time to bond. They have a wonderful relationship. When my children don't want me, I'm not hurt at all. But this is harder for daddy's to understand. Hope this helps a little. I had to talk to my husband and basically told him that he was acting like the baby! I just got tired of his whining after a while. Gosh, I hope this doesn't sound mean! He is an awesome Daddy. What you are going through is absolutely normal. She is also going through separation anxiety. Take time for yourself, and let them bond a little. But remember, this is normal.