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Sleeping with Mommy to the Exclusion of Daddy??

09 Sep

Jamie, a frustrated Mom, writes:
 
My only child (daughter) is a spirited, high-energy (redundant), non-sleeper, who feels she will miss out on something Mommy & Daddy get to do when she sleeps. I have no down time.  Nothing that I've tried seems to work to get her to go down at night.  HELP. Thanks for your suggestions…..

Dr. Yvonne Arquette, a child psychologist who read the question, answers:
 
How old is your daughter, Jamie? All things being equal, it sounds to me like some loving but firm limits are in order.
 
As a child psychologist, I see this all the time.  Parents are reluctant to cause unhappiness and feel that their job is to gratify their child's wishes, even when they aren't realistic.
 
All this does is create disappointment for the child later on when they discover that the rest of the world doesn't feel the same way about their wishes.
 
So I think you're going to have to nip this one in the bud and tolerate the anxiety and upset that this causes inside of YOU when she hollers and screams and yells "NO FAIR!!!!!".

She's right.  It's not fair that she was led to believe that her rightful place was in bed with Mom and Dad, and now that's being taken away from her.  But life isn't fair, and it's an important lesson for her to learn now.
 
BR adds this thought:
 
Nor is it fair to Mom & Dad’s relationship, which, by the way, is as critical an element in this child’s healthy development – it’s the context for her growth and the holding space for her development.  So go forth and feed your relationship with your husband!  And, yes, that means throwing Sweet Pea outta the marriage bed.  We all gotta get kicked out of the Garden of Eden sooner or later…..

And I totally agree with Dr. Y.  Yes, your daughter will hate the change, but good parenting is NOT the same as indulging the every wish of a (naturally) tyrannical 2 or 3 year old.  This is how they start on the road to becoming empathic, considerate little humans.  It’s called SHARING – the first lesson being how to share Mommy with Dad.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.