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Avatar universal

My 7 yo daughter won't go to sleep, this has worsened since my husband's and my divorce

My "almost" 7yo daughter gives me hassel EVERY night right before I am ready to walk out of the room. "Going to sleep" has always been an issue but has worsened lately. My husband and I are divorcing and I know that is a major "unsecure" feeling for her but she manages to do or complain of something resulting in a paddle every night after she is in bed. I have tried letting her sleep with her 9yo brother because she uses the excuse her room is scary. She comes in my bed in the middle of the night, calls daddy every night, promises/rewards/bribery/threats, planning sessions, keeping a routine, extra love and attention (esp. at night) EVERYTHING! Before our separation my husband began singing "their song" at night when he put them to bed, something he never did before. Now she uses that as a way of trying to get out of going to sleep (he wasn't around much before the divorce and now he is on overkill.) She is worse after she sees him and does not do this at his house. He wasn't all warm and fuzzy in the past like he is trying to be now. I try not to place all the issues on this divorce, but I am at my wits end. I don't say anything about her dad. I don't want to yell or paddle her every night-I only want peace and for her to go to bed without hassel at night. This is not fair to my 9 yo either. I love my daughter (show her lots of love, even more so lately)and I know divorce is a bad thing, but this has to stop, I can't take it, and I am tired of crying every night because of it. HELP!
14 Responses
13167 tn?1327197724
Please stop hitting that poor hurting child every single night.

She's hurting,  her world is crumbling,  and she misses her daddy and she's insecure.  

Maybe you should paddle yourself and your husband's butts and leave her in peace.
164559 tn?1233711618
First of all, your daughter is feeling lost and insecure.  Her safe world has ceased to exist.

Let her sleep with you if she needs to, what's the big deal?  Get a cool sleeping bag and tell her if she is scared she can sleep on your floor in her special sleeping bag.  Don't foist her off on her older brother, he's not an adult.

And if your husband is now on overkill, chances are he has realized his kids are incredibly precious and he is worried about not having a part in their lives.  Be glad for that, a healthy relationship with both parents leads to healthy kids.  I know you don't like him and he probably annoys the snot out of you, but you will have to put those feelings aside for the sake of your kids.

Do not use corporal punishment on this child.  She is in crises survival mode.  The last thing she needs is her mother hitting her because she is frightened.  Try to see things through her eyes.

Finally, I can sense that you are overwhelmed and angry about this phase in your life.  Go talk to a counsellor.  I went through a really rough time when my dd was 4 and my grief was affecting her.  I went to see a clinical social worker.  She was a neutral party to talk to and she helped me get back to a strong, safe place.

I wish all of you well.
Avatar universal
I appreciate the helpful comments that were offered.  However, I do not appreciate the criticism and hateful comments from RockRose.  You make it sound like I purposely "BEAT" my child.  How wrong you are!  If you would have read what I wrote, I have tried everything AND have been giving her "extra love and attention" esp. since this all went down.  She can be as happy as can be until she lays down for bed.  She had requested to sleep with her brother (they are close) and still comes in my bed at night.  Bedtime has always been a struggle with her, even BEFORE the separation.  I know she is insecure and because of that I have given her the extra attention.  I would like to believe my husband realizes what a jerk he was, but manipulating them now will only hurt them in the future.  I encourage time with their father and do not degrade him to them.  I am sensitive to their needs as my parents are divorced too.  As a last resort, along with professional help, I posted this question, looking for any suggestions to make bedtime work.  Not criticism and hateful advice.
FYI: We have been married for 13 years-he had 1 regular girlfriend and 4 others around the country!  Paddling him was not the first thing to cross my mind!
13167 tn?1327197724
Insane,  when I was about 7 my father left to go fight in Viet Nam.  He was an airforce pilot,  and I was very very close to him,  and I missed him more than I could tell you when he left.  

I had had trouble sleeping all my childhood,  it was hard to get me to bed,  but when he left it went out of control.  I couldn't sleep.  I'd try to do things I'd think would help,  like rock in bed,  and sing to myself,  and get up and get innumerable glasses of water,  and turn on/turn off nightlights,  and ask to sleep with my sister,  and sleep with my mother,  and watch TV until I fell asleep on the couch next to my mom.  Every night.    I wasn't in my own bed until after midnight for months.  My aunt came and stayed with us for awhile, and once I was singing in my bed and I looked up,  and she was in my doorway.  She just said,  "you miss your daddy so much".   I did.  I didn't even know,  until she said that,  how obvious it was to everyone else.  

The thought of someone coming into my room during this,  and paddling me for doing those things brings tears to my eyes.  I was reading your post,  sentence after sentence,  remembering and thinking of what I might say to you that would help,  when I came across the I paddle her every night line.  

She is doing what she can to comfort herself.  Good for her!  Instead of lying in a heap crying,  or shutting down,  she's trying to think of things that will make her feel better.  Calling him at night,  getting up for extra water,  sleeping with you,  these are things she hopes will make her feel better.  And probably,  they do make her feel better.  And then,  you get mad and paddle her for them.

Kudos to her for being creative.  Let her do what she needs to do.
Avatar universal
where are all the other posts?
13167 tn?1327197724
Soc - there weren't other posts in this thread.  The thread got "gremmied" - other posts mysteriously appeared under this one and now apparently the webmaster has corrected it.
Avatar universal
i see...that makes sense
Avatar universal
I appreciate the information, and as I said, posted this question out of desparation.  Feeling like I was the only parent having this problem.  I would like to say that since then, I have asked her father to speak with them earlier in the evening, not right at bedtime, to sing or do whatever he pleases so that at bedtime she is not going to sleep upset.  And since then, she has, including tonight, gone to sleep WITHOUT one bit of hassel or attitude.  She is happy and giggly and has made a complete turn around.  I realize these may be baby steps with potential for set backs, but I will take what I can get. What a relief to go to sleep myself relaxed, without crying or the guilt. She is aware that if she does give me attitude (for she can be quite stubborn) or act out in a mean way she could lose a priviledge (i.e., tv).  I have only had to tell her this, not enforce it.  I credit this change to my chaplain at work who, with God's help, gave me suggestions and the support to approach "one more night." So far it has worked.  

My compassion goes to any mother who may be/have been in my position during their lives, and to you/your mother.  I know there has to been times when they have reached maximum capacity, desparate for some help or for one good day, a change, love their kids with all their might, try to be all and do all but are all out of ideas, ending in despair and full of guilt. Just know that you are not alone.
13167 tn?1327197724
Insane,  you're really not getting this,  and we are worlds apart.  I'm not a hateful person,  I just really empathize with children who are in pain.  

We're worlds apart - literally - in our perspectives.

My mother's attitude was,  "what can I do to help you feel better?".   Your attitude is,  "what can I do to make you stop expressing your pain,  so I can feel better and not be irritated,  and finally get a good night's sleep."

Do you see the difference?    It's worlds apart.

Your daughter needs a stable home,  with a loving mommy and daddy.  She had that for a brief while apparently,  and now she doesn't.    She doesn't just want it,  she actually NEEDS it like she needs healthy food.  She NEEDS a stable family,  with a mommy and a daddy who love each other and love her.

In the absense of that she needs understanding,  and a little room to grieve and express her frustration.

You can again call me hateful if you want,  I think you really are just not grasping the reality.

Avatar universal
Some of these comments are awful. Honestly, no matter what is going on anymore, the child needs to go to sleep, my kids have had the same "stalling" tactics. All you need to do is tell her that everynight she will be in bed by so and so time. If you read a book, then read the book, tell her you love her, and now its time for bed. Period! You'll answer questions in the morning, but right now its sleep time, she can talk to her dad before the bedtime, or in the morning. It is very tough to be divorced, its even toughier to raise a child being divorced because of the guilt. However,  people must raise there children whether they are divorced or not, the right way. That means the parent must not feel guilty and make the children suffer because of it. Think of it like this, if you were married, would she do the same thing? Would it be a problem you could deal with being married? Divorce brings a whole bunch of problems, but parents must do the right thing with the children to avoid further problems down the road. And as for spanking, some kids need spanking, it is not anyone elses right to pass judgement on those parents who feel like their kid needs a "spanking" every once in a while, so just disregard that whole comment below your post, it was ignorant...Good luck, it really shouldnt take to much time to get this straightened out and you can feel confident that this is not the end of the road...
Avatar universal
It is obvious that children need both a mother and father but in this situation, and alot of situations like hers, it seems obviously worse to stay together for the parents sake and the childrens. I have been responding to alot of this questions today, and I am going to say something about the comment about "paddling" the child. You really don't know what is going on in this house, nor do I, if the mother was asking whether she was over disiplining her child, she obviously wouldn't have wrote a comment asking for suggestions to get her kid to bed. Divorce is difficult for everyone, but the mother can not give in to the childrens every little want because it will just make more problems for all of them. The mother has stated she has tried "everything" now she would like someones help because what she has tried or is trying is not working. She is not asking whether the child should be paddled or not. Nor should she have to "paddle" herself, for what, trying to do everything she can to get one simple thing done. That was ignorant, to many divorced people feel "guilty" after a divorce and give in to their children because they feel like they have failed. Take sympathy in the fact that this mother has feelings to and shes not the one who cheated, lied or betrayed their relationship.Take sympathy in the fact that it seems like the mother is still trying to keep a normal structured life for her children, of course her ex is more involved, now he feels guilty too. But guilt will not raise kids correctly and you should commend this mother for asking for help knowing that shes run out of ways to fix the problem. At least she is trying to better the situation rather than babying the children which will just create selfish and irresponsible people. Please be careful on what you say to people in tough situations, they need help, not criticizem, they to want to get on with their lives and better the family they have left...By the way, I am a child of divorce, and I have a half sister and a brother, and for awhile I had a step mom who had 2 children, and with my dad re-marrying I will have 3 new siblings. I have 3 kids and one on the way. I have been married 3 times, which means Ive been divorced twice,Ive also helped to raise two other children that have had serious behavior problems and were begining to get corrected with love and disipline until they moved to their moms house. All the fathers are involved in my kids life because I set my differences aside for my children to recieve the love they deserve. I have several friends with children from married,divorced,just single and gay relationships who like my own children need an  every once in a while   paddling too, just like I and several siblings, friends, kids I have had.  The parents I do know that do not "paddle" their kids sometimes, have rotten children...all because they dont disipline..Terrible Terrible...
Avatar universal
Thank you.

My daughter is doing much better since I have changed the times they will talk to their dad.  Since the last post they have been talking to him,  approx 1 hour before getting into bed, and she has not given me any problems.  Tonight he called them when they were already in bed, and as in the past she acted out (kicking, saying mean things, getting out of bed, crying etc.)  Tomorrow she will lose a priviledge (tv), a consequence I only had to threaten once. No paddles.  I know this is not an easy road and that there will be set backs, but I am grateful for the baby steps. An ego booster but even more so a sense of peace.  My anxiety level has diminished and my focus can be on other battles.  Bedtime is a joy now, she is much happier and my son even noticed (a big accomplishment for a 9yo)...ha!
I guess I should have prayed harder to God than to look to the web for advice.....    
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