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What Age Should A Baby Be Allowed To Stay Over With Dad?

by Ansie

My daughter is in a situation and I need some answers. She was in a relationship for 9 years with her boyfriend and last year their baby boy was born.

The baby is now 6 months old and sadly since the baby was born everything has changed into a nightmare. My daughter left the guy now he wants her to let the baby sleepover with him, but she is not happy with that. She said he can take the baby for a Thursday for 3 hours and every second weekend can let the baby spend time with him on Saturday and Sunday. But she is not going to let her baby sleepover.

From what age would you say is it fine for a child to sleepover? I would say from when he starts going to school.

Comments for What Age Should A Baby Be Allowed To Stay Over With Dad?

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Dad's Have Rights Too
by: Annie Desantis

Dear Ansie,
You are probably not going to like my reply - but here's my reasons and advice.

Sadly when parents split up, they find it very hard to leave their issues about each other to one side and move on to focus on promoting a good relationship as parents.

Baby Needs Both Mom AND Dad

A child needs BOTH parents. And the younger that they bond with their father the better. There is no reason why a father cannot take care of a baby over night. The only difficulty is if the baby is breastfed, but a baby can be encouraged to use a bottle some of the time with milk expressed by Mom. That takes some commitment on behalf of the mother to be willing to express milk and co-operate with helping baby get used to a bottle some of the time.

And of course when a relationship has broken down to the point where they no longer want to be together, or there are a lot of painful or unresolved issues, then it is very hard for them to co-operate to make things as good as possible for the children.

Learning To Co-Parent

No matter what has gone wrong between the two of them, they need to be actively working to being good parents - and good parents support the other parent in building a strong relationship with the child.

No matter how much he messed up in the relationship with your daughter, her ex shows he is taking his commitment as a parent very seriously. Many fathers would be too scared or unwilling to be responsible for a baby over night, or would not be willing to learn. The fact that he is wanting to be a full on Dad and take full responsibility caring for his baby, is a really great thing. Despite any other issues, he needs to be supported in this.

He could easily have walked away and opted out of much contact with the baby, many Fathers do at the end of a relationship. Many Father's are way too unsure of looking after a baby, mostly because Mom has usually done the majority of the caring when a baby is small. The best time for a parent to bond with a child is when they are tiny. Building that trust, closeness, learning to parent, learning to fill the needs of another little being is so important.

This baby needs his Dad. It is not just your daughter's baby - your questions refers to your daughter not letting "her" baby sleep over. This baby is BOTH of their responsibility, and it is not like a sleepover at a friends house, his father's home is his second home.

Part Two Follows . . . .

Dad's Have Rights Too - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Dad & Baby Have Rights

Her ex has more rights than you do. I know you are concerned about your daughter and Grandson, and maybe her ex has done some cruel or nasty things. But you all have to move on for the baby's sake, he needs to bond and build a relationship with his Dad.

Of course I don't know the situation or what kind of person the Dad is, but they were together for 9 years, that shows a fair degree of commitment, and he clearly is determined to be an involved parent with the baby. The only time I would advise caution about a baby sleeping over is if the other parent is using a lot of alcohol or drugs and has demonstrated a lack of care when in charge of the baby.

He may not be as competent a parent as your daughter - usually Mom has far more experience in taking care of children, and has been the primary caregiver, so he may well have a steep learning curve to manage everything on his own. But he will never learn if he is not allowed his rights to take care of his own child.

Parenting Is A Learning Curve

Learning to be a parent is not easy, it does not necessarily come naturally. Many women find it really scary with a new baby home from hospital, or are recovering from childbirth and Dad has to do the early nappy changes or first bath. Baby may well come home grubby or he may not have the same routines as your daughter has, but sharing the time together and building a close relationship now while the baby is small will pay off big time as your Grandson grows up. The more contact Dad can have now, the better.

We tend to think Mom's are the only one that can take care of small children but that is simply because Dad's are not usually available to do much of the caring. There is loads of research to show that the earlier a Father takes on some of the care-taking and hands-on parenting, the better the relationship long term.

So I am sorry, I can't agree with you not wanting the baby to sleep over with his Father until he is at school.

How Can You Support Them?

The more you can support your daughter to help her ex be a good parent the better. They may well have had a messy break up, and of course you are on her side and are such an important support for her. But you don't know his side of the issues, and from his perspective you and her are kind of ganging up against him and preventing him from having a full relationship with his baby.

It is not your decision, nor do you have more rights than he does, even if your daughter is living with you, or you are one of the other main carers of the baby.

Part Three Follows . . .

Dad's Have Rights Too - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Your relationship with your Grandson is a very special one, and will be very important for him. Your daughter will need your support, both practically and emotionally, but just be very careful that you are not making it harder for your grandson to have a healthy relationship with his Dad, no matter how much you might dislike him.

Help them to move on from the relationship mess, and co-parent this lovely wee boy together with as much co-operation as they can manage. This is the best thing for baby - he needs both parents to get along so he can build strong trusting relationships with them, which will set him up for his own future.

Your daughter is lucky she has such good support with you, her Mom, and clearly you have a very strong relationship. Help her to let go enough for your Grandson to develop that kind of relationship with his Dad. It really is so important.

Take Care,
Annie D :)

I Had To Let Dad Have The Baby
by: Myra

I just want to share my experience, I split with the father of my baby when he was 4 months old. My partner had not had much to do with the baby and I was surprised that he was really insistent on having visiting rights.

I didn't want to leave him from such a young age and found it really hard. Then by about 6 months my ex wanted to have him overnight and I was horrified and worried he would not know how to look after him properly. I put up a big fight over it all and made things very difficult and we even went to court.

The court ruled in his favor so I had to deal with that, and get used to the arrangement. In hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened. My ex really has turned into a really good father, I think having to take responsibility for his son was a wake up call for him, and he really got his act together over the next few years.

My son is now 3 and is really close with his Dad and happily goes between the two homes. I would have agreed with the Grandmother above, that waiting until a child goes to school would be better. But in fact, having the baby from such a young age really bonded them and I think helped my ex to grow up himself and get his life on track.

I would advise that she support her daughter in dealing with letting go control, and trusting that it will be the best thing all round.

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