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My toddler has always been a good sleeper, except when she's sick. When she wakes me in the middle of the night, it makes me angry that my sleep is disturbed. My method of dealing with this is verbal only: when I go to her crib, I will snap at her or curse ("What? What do you want? What is it? I'm so $#@! tired of this!").
After just a few seconds of this, I'm able to quit and deal with her calmly and effectively, but it bothers my husband. So much so, that unbeknownst to me, he has turned our baby monitor back on and listened to me rant while he is snuggled in bed.
He just recently told me this and I was (you guessed it!) angry and upset that he has done this behind my back. I feel betrayed and don't know if I'm upset that I was caught at what I thought was something private, or upset that he doesn't trust me. I have told him that I say these things only because she is not talking yet, nor is she repeating anything: she is too young to understand what I'm saying.
I would never say them otherwise. Of course we both realize she understands my tone of voice and expressions, and that is why my husband wants me to change.
I'm not sure how to deal with my anger towards my husband now. I truly can't believe he would listen to me in secret. I feel like I can't ever be with her in her room again without wondering if he's listening. And he says without apology that as long as he suspects I'm angry like that, he will continue to listen.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Marie, and thanks for telling your story here. I'm sure you're a good person, and you want to be a good mother. I will try to help.
You don't seem to fully realize that you are abusing your daughter. I assure you that she is registering every tone, fluctuation, emotion and yes, word that you are uttering when you are angry with her. Do your own research to verify what I'm saying. The receptive repertoire of infants is advanced far beyond the expressive--meaning, she is understanding your words long before she can speak them.
Your anger at your husband is misplaced. He is monitoring you because you are not monitoring yourself. You talk about your privacy when you're alone with your daughter. That is not the correct way for you to be thinking. Your concern does not need to be for your privacy, it needs to be focused on the care and well being of your daughter.
I suggest you read and follow the instructions on this page. Also read about children's basic needs, and you'll see some of the areas in which you need to change your behavior toward your daughter.
Apologize to your daughter, and apologize to your husband, and follow the recommendations I've made here. And please stop yelling at your daughter.
Remember that you are a good and kind person by nature. Be true to that.
My very best to you,
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