Three Year Old Says He Wants New Daddy

Updated on September 22, 2010
P.M. asks from Berkeley, CA
9 answers

Hi Moms,

I'm pretty distraught and would appreciate some guidance and support right now.

My husband and I have had our problems and have been working through them in both individual and couples counseling for over a year (alternating when we couldn't get childcare, etc). We were doing pretty well for a while. Then, about a month ago, weI had a terrible argument which seemed to last all day. I returned home with my son mid-afternoon, DH seemed calmer, acted like nothing had happened. I later discovered that he had been drinking. After they woke from their nap, I questioned him about it and he ignored me. Later, he acted resentfully, then exploded by saying negative things about me in front of and directly to our son (3). At this point, my son was eating dinner. He stormed in and out of the house, slamming doors, yelling, etc under the guise of housework while we were arguing. (I know, it's strange) He reentered the home, got in my face and really scared me by acting in a threatening manner. So, I called the cops. He left the house while I was on hold with them (so my son never saw cops take his dad away or anything like that) I didn't press charges, I just needed him removed from the home for our safety. He stayed away for a few days. We went to therapy together and he agreed to do AA and anger management classes. He is a SAHD, family lives out of state, and at that time did not have a job, so when the therapist asked if he could come back and stay on the couch, I said I felt on the spot but agreed anyway since he did not have an alternate place to go.

So, he's been back for a month, trying hard, going to AA, doing anger mgmt, etc. The first two weeks, things were better. My son seemed fine. We both talked with him and assured him it was ok to express his feelings. Also, assured him it wasn't his fault, etc.

During the last two weeks, my son has been resistant to spending time alone with him. He has also been telling him "I want a new daddy, I don't want you" "I want you to leave and not come back, etc" According to my husband, these comments seem to come out of the blue. They will be playing nicely together and then, he'll make one of these comments.

We're not really sure what to do here, apart from sitting him down again to encourage him to share his feelings.

I welcome your support and guidance.

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answers from Seattle on

I will keep this VERY brief.

At 3yo my son said the same things for similar reasons. Looking back I cannot tell you how much I REGRET not doing *exactly* that, and filing for divorce.

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answers from Portland on

I've worked with a lot of little kids over a lot of years. They process their thoughts, feelings and memories on their own internal schedules. What seems out of the blue to you is probably just his little mind chugging along, recallling a very vivid moment of fear from a week ago, which can still seem just about as real as the present moment.

Your little guy sounds like he was somewhat traumatized by your long, drawn-out arguments, particularly if he saw you threatened or felt frightened himself by his daddy. Additionally, there is the ongoing possibility that his dad has said or done something scary while you weren't present. If he's telling his daddy that he doesn't want him around, as children will do because their thoughts are so unfiltered, Daddy might be responding in a childish manner.

Three suggestions: get him some counseling to give him the emotional tools to understand and process his worries. Join an Al-Anon group to help you do the same – this connection can be life-changing for you. And read a few good books on child development. A particularly good one for your present circumstances would be Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman. This teaches you about Emotion Coaching, another term you can google for lots of useful information. (Here's one good link to get you started: .)

My most positive thoughts go out to you.

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answers from Honolulu on

Your son... probably needs child Counseling/Therapy.
He is SO young... to have to deal with grown up problems... and it is made worse, by your Husband and his MANY issues and mental problems.

Your son, is saying how he feels.
Your Husband/the fights... has ADVERSELY affected/damaged him... and his perspective toward your Husband....
This is... your Husband's 'damage' he did to your son's well-being.
Your Husband, has to admit that and be responsible for it.

Your son's comments... is NOT coming out of the blue. It is a DIRECT result, of your Husband's behavior and your/Hubby's fights.

Your son is not fine.
He is having a hard time... dealing with what is going on. A child, DEEPLY feels the impacts, of their parents fighting. And of your Husband's problems... and the way he treats YOU.
Your son... is expressing... that he does not 'like' his Dad... because of what he sees and hears... and how your Husband treats you.
Kids... know this.
They... will OFTEN say their feelings... 'out of the blue'... but it is not out of the blue... it IS what they are thinking/feeling... RIGHT THEN, because of what has happened, before.... and resulting from what they see their Parent do. ie: your Husband.
AND... your child fully knows, that 'Daddy" is NOT NICE... to his Mommy. Thus maybe that is why he does not like his Dad.

Your Husband.. has problems. And THIS is the "legacy" he is creating in his son.
Your Husband... since he has a drinking problem... these problems WILL recur. So you have to realize that. They often relapse too... and the fights/your Husband having anger problems, WILL recur too. SO THEN... your Son... will have ongoing issues with it too... he is a part of the family and a PART of you and your Husband's problems.
And it can result in, post-traumatic stress... or emotions in the child that are not at peace. Afterward.

all the best,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

When he says that to your husband again, here's what I would have your husband say back to him. "Are you mad at Daddy?" "I would be mad at me too" "Daddy wasn't very nice & is very sorry that he scared you" "Can you forgive me". "I want to be a better Daddy"

Anyone can do this with their children including Mommy's when we sometimes act up too (raising our voice, etc).

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answers from Denver on

My husband and I have had our share of troubles but we have a decent marriage. He is also a SAHD. Our son said similar things at that age. When I managed to get him to open up, which isn't always easy w/ a 3 year old, he said he thought I could stay home with him if Daddy was gone.

This may be happening because of the fight but it may not. Please talk to your son -just the 2 of you- and tell him in a soothing way that you understand he said he wanted Daddy gone and that you want to understand what he thinks his day would be like if Daddy were gone.

If he thinks it means you would be home, he'd get to sing more, play more, get more toys - then that's a much different thing to think about than if he thinks Daddy is scary.

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answers from Charlotte on

PM, your son needs to go to counseling. A play therapist might help. Since you work, you don't actually know what's going on with him while they're alone. Are you sure he's not drinking earlier in the day so that you won't figure it out?

I'm sorry this is happening to you. You must be a long-suffering person. If your husband falls off the wagon again, I hope you won't feel cornered into letting him come back and sleep on the couch. He will need to find out what it means to lose being with his family because of drinking and hurting the people he is supposed to love.

Good luck,

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answers from Buffalo on

Does he say these thing while you have been there watching the whole time? I have a hard time believing that out of the blue durring a happy moment he would say I want a new daddy. Daddy normally has to make a child mad first. Yes it could be as simple as telling him to go into time out first but still. I would wonder what he does when you are not around. My Mom did not listen to our suddle hints that we hated to be around our dad and now she cannot believe what he did when she was not around and regrets every moment.

If you can afford it get cameras installed and was him.

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answers from San Francisco on

How is your husband now? Is he pleasant to be around? Your husband sounds as if he went a little crazy and it sounds as if you took him back into your house because you felt sorry for him. He is your child's primary caregiver...If you were paying him would you hire him back? No offense, but people in Berkeley are very accepting of weird behavior - it's possible that the therapist isn't really thinking about the well-being of your son? I think you need to look at your husband and watch how he interacts with your son. Is he patient or snappy? Is he irritable or loving? Good-luck.

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answers from San Francisco on

P.M., many people who drink do things that are hurtful and harmful to children that do not show up until they are old enough to speak up. I have friends that have delt with men that drink and AA as well as anger management issues. You told your son it was ok to express himself, say what he feels that's a BIG DEAL to a 3 year old. You told him to express his feelings well he may be telling what he feels for a period of times as children donot do time like adults. Also remember that he has learned to surprise the other person by his words as he has seen and heard his parents do. The example is set and now you get to show and tell him again and again by both your actions that its real.
Your child has seen on TV -- any children's show will tell them the proper way for people to act and what to do when its wrong. So his words may just be a responce to what he has been taught without your even knowing it.
Why would you want to let yourself be" forced " into a situation that you felt unsafe in aby lettingthis man back into the home? A therepist may suggest many things but you do not have to do them. This is one you made a choice of.
He could always stay at a local motel as they rent by the month.
I hope for all your sakes that you can work this out. Having law enforcement officers in our family I have heard of the experiances they have when they see it doesn't. You might consider a new therepist that will have more respect for your safety and feelings or is it that the therepist took from your feelings and statements that it really would be alright to doit this way?
Good Luck

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