Dear Sue Ellen,
My husband has recently been put on the night shift at his job. Our son is 3 years old. My husband would always be the one to put him in bed every night. They would read stories together. Now I am reading and tucking him in at night and he wants his daddy to do it. He cries for his daddy every night and I don’t know what to do.
Things get hard in life sometimes. Most of us parents want our children to have a perfect life. We learn soon enough it isn’t possible to be that perfect parent who gives their children that perfect life. When things get tough for families we beat ourselves up and feel guilty, or we worry that we have let our children down.
Children are amazing and resilient; more so than we are. We should let them teach us how to be that way again. We are usually mistaken about the things our children remember from their childhood. You may see your husband being away from your little boy at bedtime as a bad thing because he misses his daddy. Have you considered the possibility that you and your little boy will make some lasting memories together when he adjusts to you reading him bedtime stories, rather than his daddy?
Your little boy may remember this: “When I was a little boy my mother and father read to me at bedtime. Sometimes it was my Daddy and sometimes it was my Mama”. What’s wrong with that? When your little boy cries for his Daddy, let him. Validate his feelings. We all miss our Daddies sometimes. Get your husband to leave him a message on your phone to reassure him. Then read him his favorite story, tickle him, rub his back, tuck him in and kiss his sweet little boy cheeks. Over time, he will adjust and so will his parents.
When I was a little girl, my Daddy could stick nickels in his ears and they would come out of mine. It was magical! That’s what I remember about my Daddy working the night shift and my mother working during the day.
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