DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I grew up with a tough guy father, who did not believe in “coddling” us. We were expected to pull our weight around the house, which was a good thing, but he also did not go in for the stuff that comforts most kids. We weren’t allowed cuddle toys or nightlights in particular.
Our three-year-old daughter is truly afraid of the dark, and we have a small ballerina nightlight in her room in our house. When we visit my dad’s though, he makes a stink about us setting it up in the spare bedroom where he’s moved our old crib. The last time we were there, he went into the room after we had gone to bed and turned the light out. Two hours later, our daughter woke up screaming and crying.
At this point I do not want to have any more overnight visits in my own father’s house. My wife tries to defend him, in her way, but I don’t see this as defendable. I get “his house, his rules,” but this is our child and that should be more important than his parenting philosophy.
Are we right not taking our daughter to see her grandfather until she is old enough to sleep in a darkened room? --- NOT A TOUGH GUY DAD
DEAR NOT A TOUGH GUY DAD: That your father openly disregarded your wishes and turned off the nightlight makes me think he isn’t interested in respecting your parenting practices.
The solution may be to avoid overnight visits for the time being, or perhaps suggesting he make the trip to your house, if circumstances allow. If he can see your family in your home, under your rules, he may get a better idea of the environment your daughter is used to. Then, maybe he’ll relent, or at least concede to your continuing your daughter’s routine in his house without interference.