Couple at odds about keeping toddler in their bed
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.