My husband didn’t take it personally.
Our 2.5-year-old toddler said, “I don’t like my Daddy.” Not just once or twice, but three days straight of Daddy Dislike.
I was the only one a bit hurt. I kept saying, “Mommy and Daddy are a team,” or “Daddy loves you so much.”
I realized pretty soon it wasn’t about love. She LOVES her Daddy. She adores him to the moon, and he adores her right back. But LIKE? She wasn’t about to use that term and “Daddy” in the same statement. Why? Because according to our daughter…
“I don’t like Daddy. Mommy says yes.”
According to my toddler, Mommy is a pushover. Mommy lets her have anything. Mommy lets her do anything.
According to Mommy, Mommy picks her battles. Mommy lets her wear the Elsa dress all day. Mommy lets her play *safely* with scissors.
According to Daddy, Mommy lets her get away with a lot. Mommy lets her wear Elsa dress when Daddy just said no. Mommy lets her (his Baby Girl) play with scissors.
So that night after the girls went to bed, we talked.
What is it about us that makes ME say yes and HIM say no?
According to me, I’m with the girls all day. I’m going to carefully and craftily choose my opportunities to say NO.
Running with scissors? NO. Eating chicken nuggets with ketchup in the Elsa dress? NO. These NOs are for her safety. (Yes, if the Elsa dress is ruined, she will be emotionally damaged.)
My nos are few and far between because, at some point, my nos won’t matter. I don’t want to create a lifestyle of nos, and I don’t want my nos to go unheard. I want them to matter. So I hardly say NO until it counts.
According to him, he feels like mean dad.
I have neglected to communicate that she uses scissors now, with certain boundaries. We have different views about wearing princess dresses all day. He’s concerned that she believes she lives in fantasy land, so he would rather put the dresses and tutus away for some portion of the day.
His nos come often because we aren’t on the same page. What she sees as Dad saying no is Dad being mean. When Dad says no, he, too, is just trying to look out for her. Of course, this is usually lost on children.
Less than three years into this parenting gig, I can’t even begin to count the number of parenting pow-wows we’ve had. This topic of how to parent as a team and how to have nos as a team is an ever-evolving conversation that we still don’t know the answer to. But we at least came to an agreement:
- I will work on pausing to think of WHY I’m saying yes instead of jumping into a yes.
- We will work on talking through “House Rules” (aka scissor rules) as a family.
- He will work on allowing a yes even though it probably involves a giant mess. (Did I mention we have paint rules too?)