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My wife and I have a 2 year old son. From about 2 months after he was born, I somehow become almost exclusively responsible of the night time comforting of our son.

It has now reached a point that whenever he is ill or just wakes up at night, he cries and asks for me. If my wife tries to confort him, he pushes her away and cries until I take and comfort him.

I enjoy holding him but sometimes when he has several nights in a row when he wakes up, I find it very difficult to even just wake up and I would like to get some help from my wife.

I have told her this issue but she says that it's my fault because I took him at night to comfort him even when it was not the case. I strongly disagree and I think it's just normal to comfort a crying baby at night. She also said that her back is sore and can't hold him.

Now, on the occasions when she does pick him up at night, she always tries to explain to him that I'm not around, that he needs to stay with her. I think that if she just hummed or sing to him or just pat him to relax, he will eventually calm down. She doesn't want to hear any of this and brings him to me to hold him.

My question is: how can I engage my wife in comforting our son during night time, in such a way that we can then share this night time routine?

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    "I have told her this issue but she says that it's my fault because I took him at night to comfort him even when it was not the case. I strongly disagree and I think it's just normal to comfort a crying baby at night. She also said that her back is sore and can't hold him." was your wife trying to do sleep training? – WendyG Jun 11 '18 at 8:37
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    This could also be a good question for the Parenting SE! – Alina Cretu Jun 11 '18 at 9:20
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    "how can I engage my wife in comforting our son during night time, in such a way that we can then share this night time routine" So you don't want to change your son's behaviour upon waking, you just want your wife to join you? – WendyG Jun 11 '18 at 15:51
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This question does sort of cross over into parenting issues, although there is a clear interpersonal aspect of how to approach your wife.

First of all, you need to figure out what you actually need to talk about. Regarding the parenting, you mention that she may blame you for your child needing attention during the night in the first place. This suggests that she believes your child shouldn't need attention during the night, and that you ought to be using some method like "controlled crying" to get him into a routine of sleeping through. This isn't the right site to discuss the pros and cons of that, but certainly both parents need to be following the same "parenting style", because whatever approach you choose as a couple will only work if you are both consistent in your approach.

The other thing you should think about before you approach any discussion is how your wife may view a "fair" share of parenting. Who looks after your son during the day? She may hold the view that if she cares for him during the day while you work, for example, that you should look after him during the night. Of course, if you are working or otherwise occupied during the day then the alternative view is that you need to sleep in order to work! Try and see it from her point of view so that any discussion is balanced. If you see only your own point of view then you may just sound selfish.

The aim of your discussion should be:

  • To agree on a parenting style/routine that you will both stick to
  • To discuss a fair share of night-time parenting based on you both getting a reasonable amount of sleep.
  • Get your son sleeping through the night!

Perhaps begin by saying:

We do need to talk about [son] sleeping through the night. What do we need to do to get him sleeping through?

See what your wife's opinions are. It does seem that she already subscribes at least to the idea of not giving him attention in order to teach him to comfort himself. But is she already putting that into practice? Did she give up because you picked him up when he cried?

Avoid blaming each other, but focus on moving forward - what do you both have to do now to work together and correct this before it is too late*?

(*most parent-led methodologies involve teaching children to comfort themselves during daytime naps - for example making them nap in the bed they sleep in at night, letting them cry for a time, and if they don't stop crying only comforting them silently by gently putting a hand on them for example, never picking them up. At 2 years old you will have the difficulty that he will probably be standing up in his cot/bed already - but don't give up! There are books out there that help with all situations at all ages! And see the Parenting SE site for further discussions!)

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