Your Child's Behavioural Phases Will Pass, But It's OK to Find Them Tough

David Fox

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Ever since my daughter was born, my mantra has been “this will pass”. Being a parent with a disability means I have to understand my limitations and focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t. And it means realising that tough periods will pass.

I couldn’t really pick her up and carry her in the newborn stage — but it passed, and then she was crawling. Soon she will be walking. That tough phase when I felt like I had to rely on my wife for most of the physical caregiving feels like a lifetime ago.

But there are other difficult phases, and knowing they will pass but does not make them any easier.

Our daughter — having just turned one — is in a particularly fussy phase at present. For a long time, I was the one who found it easiest to get her to sleep in the evening. We even settled into a relaxing evening routine. But lately, she will only go to my wife for comfort and sees me as “the fun one” to play games with.

And playing with her is great! I love her laugh, her little squeals of excitement when we play peekaboo, but I liked being the one she would turn to when she was tired and needed to wind down. I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt a little when she wriggles out of my arms to cuddle her mother instead — even though I know she doesn’t mean any harm by it, we’re both her parents, she loves both of us and doesn’t love me any less.

I felt guilty for feeling that way — but it’s natural. I would not expect my daughter to not get upset over what are trivial matters (and as a one-year-old she does that a lot) so shouldn’t I allow myself the same grace?

It’s okay to feel these feelings even if they are irrational. I just have to remember to let them go.

It won’t be long until she wants cuddles from me again, or I become the go-to parent for something else, or we create another special routine we can share. But for now, if I’m “the fun one” then I’ll embrace that until she needs me to be something else.

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David is an author and freelance writer. He has published two books of short stories and his first novel is due to be released in January 2021. He writes about parenting, relationships and life with a disability, as well as about pop culture, writing, productivity, politics and soccer. His work has appared in The Mighty, Apparently, Movie Pilot, WhatCulture, Vocal Media, What Millenials Want, State of the Game, FootballEye, Football Critic, The False 9 and Just Football.

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