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Bedtime for Xavier

February 10, 2008
tags: ,

I posted this to MySpace a day or so ago, and got some good feedback there, but I wanted to also get opinions from some of the folks here.


Okay, you parents and folks with experience with young children, I’ve got a question for you.

Bedtimes with Xavier lately have turned into a bit of a nightmare. He does not want to be put down to sleep by Daddy. Mommy, and Mommy only, will do. Frequently, this means they fall asleep together in our bed, and I then carry him into his bedroom at some point in the night before coming to bed myself. Sometimes, he wakes up in the middle of the night, cries, and crawls back into bed with us.

Now, the issue of co-sleeping, or the “family bed” isn’t really what I’m concerned about – although truth be told, I’d much rather he slept in his bed, and Carole and I slept in ours. Rather, my concern lies in how the “going to bed” process – and our efforts to change it – impacts how he views the two of us.

As I said, he typically wants to go to bed with Carole, and on many nights she’s fine with that and I acquiesce. On some nights, though, we determine that I’ll put him to bed. Queue the waterworks, as he cries and wants to do something other than rock with me in the chair in his room. If I put him down to sleep, he cries and gets out of bed (he’s been in a toddler bed for several months now). Sometimes he’ll let me stand with him and twist rather than sit and rock. But its almost always a struggle.

Tonight, as I’m trying every trick I know of to get him to calm down and sleep (or at least outlast his tantrums so he falls asleep anyway), Carole came in – twice – to pick him up and calm him down. The second time she took him downstairs to lay on the couch with her (they’re asleep there now as I type this).

It’s taken me a few hours to piece things together in my head, but this is the scenario I’ve come to – and this is where I need your feedback. My fear is that, by coming in to calm him down, it could reinforce this notion that “Mommy is the one that solves my problem, and if I just scream loud enough or long enough, she’ll come rescue me from this place I don’t want to be (with Daddy).”

Not that I enjoy listening to him scream bloody murder about wanting Mommy, or wanting to go downstairs, or that he doesn’t want to rock, or whathaveyou. But I also feel that, if Carole and I decide that I’m putting Xavier down that night, I should be able to do that unless I specifically ask for help. Having Carole come in to “save the day” just reinforces this idea that I’m the problem, and she’s the solution. Which makes the next time I go to put him down even harder, and gives him yet another point of reference where if he screams long and hard enough, he’ll get his wish (Mommy).

Perhaps I’m being naive, but I do think Xavier was calming down with me tonight – and on nights when Carole isn’t around, he’s gone down with me without all the histrionics. It isn’t easy, but then again isn’t part of a parent’s job to -not- give in to every stated whim? To let them be frustrated, to teach them how to deal with failure, with not getting their way? Or, put another way, to let Xavier cry himself to sleep with me to show him that it’s okay to go down with me, that the world won’t end, that he’ll still see Mommy in the morning, etc?

I’m sure this could be stated more coherently – blogging at 12:30 AM on 3 hours sleep the night before isn’t the best idea, apparently – but this seems to be reasonably close to what’s going through my head right now.

What say all of you?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. weregrouch permalink
    February 12, 2008 9:14 am

    Let the rascal scream. After you’ve put him in his bed, walk out, lock the door (we switched the handles around) and let him scream. Eventually he’ll fall asleep. Then you go back in and put him in bed. Don’t let Carol “save the day” anymore, it doesn’t help in the long run. Before doing this, though, sit down and talk to him, both of you, about why he’s so mommy-dependant at bedtime. Is he scared? Is there something she does that you don’t? Or is he just manipulating you as only a toddler can? If those are taken care of and you still have problems, let him cry. A very large slug of whiskey will help curb the impulse to run in and give in (for you and Carol, not the kid). Sister Katie screamed at bedtime for 2 years, and she’s turned out OK. Good luck.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    February 13, 2008 10:52 am

    What she said….

  3. Anonymous permalink
    February 21, 2008 10:05 am

    We had a similar situation. Until Duncan was 2 he preferred me putting him to bed, he did not mind Jamie but preferred me. Now he prefers Jamie over me.
    The biggest thing we found with him is routine. The same bedtime routine every night no matter who puts him to bed. Potty, brush teeth, read 2 books, then lights out.Maybe try both you & Carole put him to bed together until he gets use to the routine, then try each of you alone.

    A side note about him sleeping in his bed – If you make the routine so he has to go to bed in his room this might help getting him to sleep in his own bed… Duncan rarely joins us in bed – it’s playtime with he and Jamie (at least in Duncan’s mind) so Jamie or I will go put him to back in his bed and lay down with him. When he had a toddler bed, we kept a pillow in his room for us to lay down next to him.

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