Friday, March 23, 2012

My 3 year old daughter is closer to me than my husband

Hi Kay:

My 3 year old daughter is more closer to me(mom) than her dad. We both work full time and she is at her grandparents care couple days a week and 3 other days when she goes to pre-school. She is very well-behaved and matured for her age. The only problem is that she gets very clingy to me and she does not want to be around her dad. Even when I am in the shower, she would cry/not cry and sit outside the bathroom door, but won't go with her dad to play.

She pushes him away when he tries to kiss her or hold her and sometimes she would even scratch his face. But not even once has she done any of that to me and she would listen to me and tells me that she doesn't like daddy because he shouts at her. My husband is very temperamental and he is not the kind to spend time with her playing with her or answering her questions. As I said she is more matured- she likes her questions answered and not pushed away as baby talk.

So I am caught in the middle as my husband thinks that I should make an attempt in getting her closer to him. although she listens to me regarding everything, she doesn't listen to me when I ask her to give him a hug or kiss or go and play with him. she would forgo anything that she loves to be with me and not with him. Can you please suggest something that I could do to fix the situation?


Dear Deepthy;

You may not like my answer. The problem is not how to get your daughter close to your husband. That is his RESPONSIBILITY. He is not developing a relationship with his daughter on her terms. You state, "My husband is very temperamental and he is not the kind to spend time with her playing with her or answering her questions."

Well then what does he expect her to do parent him? It is his job as her father to develop a nurturing and respectful relationship with her and this does not mean by commanding her to respond to him. He will need to get into her world just as you have done. She is showing preference to you just as any human being does to someone they feel close to and wants to be around. As humans we also avoid people who we do not feel close to.

I strongly advise you to stop assuming responsibility for his behavior and allow him to suffer the consequences without feeling like you need to do something. You are setting yourself up for a pattern which will continue through his life and her life of taking on too much responsibility for his relationship with her. He sounds like he doesn't want to put any effort into his relationship with his daughter, like he wants her to do the work. Is this because you have already (before she was born) assumed too much responsibility for his actions? I can only speak to what you have written here.

If he is uncomfortable with her suggest he find some nurturing parenting classes. He needs to find a way to make contact with her in her comfort zone not his.

If you would like more education or just to talk about these issues I am available for telephone appointments. I also have live recordings about children and care giving on my homepage. Just click on the appropriate topic and listen.


M Kay Keller

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