Different Relationship with Father

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Different Relationship with Father

Postby katrina090377 » Thu 20 Jun, 2013 1:37 pm

My 3 year old daughter is not getting on with her father like she does with me. He has been in and out of hospital for the past 2 years with major depression and when he has been home he spent most of his time in Bed. Of late he has been off work and picks our daughter up from daycare. She always asks wheres mummy. We are having some troubles in our relationship, its almost at breaking point to be honest. So I believe its a lot to do with that and also she has spent so much time with me. I really am at a loss to how to help him build a relationship with our daughter. Can you help?
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Re: Different Relationship with Father

Postby NgalaOnline » Thu 20 Jun, 2013 5:36 pm

Hi Katrina

Thank you for your post. It does sound as though you are in the midst of a situation that must be quite difficult and stressful for you.

It is normal for children to have phases of showing preference for one parent or the other. If one parent is much more involved in the child's care than the other it is also very normal for the child to be more comfortable and familiar with the primary caregiver and to seek that parent out when they are absent. It is great that you are supporting both your child and husband by being interested in helping to strengthen their relationship. If you find that your daughter seeks you or shows some discomfort at being cared for her father without you present (which is normal if she is not spending a lot of time with him and therefore is not very familiar with him) it may be helpful to try to build up their relationship by involving your husband in some aspects of your daughter's care whilst you are present. This will help her to be more confident and therefore more likely to be more open to exploring and developing the relationship with her father. It may be helpful to discuss with your husband what role he feels he can take in your daughter's care. This may initially be reading her a bedtime story, playing with her or helping to perform some of her care such as bathing and dressing her. If your daughter initially resists your husband doing this it may help if you can at first do these tasks together for a few days, before you begin to reduce your involvement (such as telling your daughter you are just going to do a few things and leaving them to it for a few minutes, before returning to your daughter). You can then build up to your husband doing these tasks on his own as your daughter begins to become more comfortable.

Parenting together through marriage difficulties can be very challenging. Children are very good at picking up on their parents emotions and opinions of each other. Children can sometimes feel a divided loyalty and may feel guilty or like they are betraying one parent by loving the other, if they know that their parent disapproves of the other. Trying to ensure that you do not discuss negative traits or relationship issues either with the child or in the child's range of hearing is very important, as children will often be listening or internalizing things even if they appear to be preoccupied with play. Arguing between parents can be very stressful for children so it is best to shelter your children from this in all the ways you can. Relationships Australia is a good source of support for those experiencing relationship difficulties. They offer services such as mediation, counselling and also offer a lot of workshops regarding parenting through relationship difficulties or separation. http://www.relationships.org.au/
Beyond Blue also offer some support services for family and friends dealing with depression of a closely associated person. You may find their website, helpline or online forum a good source of support: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

I hope that this information is helpful and that things do improve for you and your family soon.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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