Cou­ple at odds about keep­ing toddler in their bed

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - GARY DIRENFELD Have a par­ent­ing or re­la­tion­ship ques­tion? Send it in a brief email to ques­tion@your­so­cial­worker.com. Due to the vol­ume of mail, not all ques­tions will re­ceive a re­ply.

Q: My part­ner and I fight over ev­ery­thing to do with our two-yearold daugh­ter. He doesn’t like my ex­tended nurs­ing or our co-sleep­ing. I re­mem­ber feel­ing lonely and scared when my par­ents fought.

I don’t want that for our daugh­ter and be­lieve she shouldn’t be forced to stop breast­feed­ing or move from our bed un­til she is ready. How do I get him to un­der­stand?

A: It is al­ways easy to see the short­com­ings of the other and to project blame as a re­sult. How­ever, for things to change, we must look in­ward to un­der­stand our own is­sues which, in turn, may con­trib­ute to the chal­lenges faced.

Grow­ing up in a home where your par­ents fought, you felt lonely and scared. It’s nat­u­ral that you would want to spare your daugh­ter those ex­pe­ri­ences. How­ever, you could have been so in­flu­enced by your own his­tory that you go too far the other way, be­ing overly sen­si­tive to your daugh­ter’s needs to the ex­tent that your part­ner’s may no longer be met. This, too, can cre­ate prob­lems to which your daugh­ter is ex­posed.

Ex­tended breast­feed­ing and cosleep­ing aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the prob­lem, but if there is no time for adult in­ti­macy and pri­vacy, this can un­der­mine the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the par­ents. Con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that your part­ner feels lonely and scared about los­ing his re­la­tion­ship with you. Rather than get­ting mad and blam­ing him for not un­der­stand­ing your needs, per­haps you can ask about his and then dis­cuss how ev­ery­one’s needs can be met.

If you take that ap­proach, he will feel heard and this is likely to put him in a bet­ter frame of mind to then hear what’s un­der­neath your need to have your daugh­ter feel con­nected and taken care of.

The real chal­lenge is to get be­neath the sur­face is­sues of his be­hav­iour and your care­giv­ing choices and look at what’s driv­ing them. You can then dis­cuss so­lu­tions such as find­ing pri­vate adult time, for in­ti­macy or even just a cup of cof­fee to­gether.

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