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Sleep Matters by Deb Herdman


Husband Refuses to Let Wife Get Help for Child That Doesn’t Sleep!

Recently, I experienced a conversation that didn’t sit well with me. My first inclination was to feel shocked and then disappointed that mothers feeling “desperate” for help are denied it by the person who should be supporting them.

I came across similar conversations on social media, with one mother asking if she should “make” her partner stay up and handle the heavy task of resettling their child night after night so she could get some sleep.

The primary caregiver often bears the burden of night shifts, believing they should allow their parenting partner to rest more. This might make sense for a while, but what happens when both parents are working and there isn’t equitable sharing of child-rearing tasks?

Labels such as misogynistic, ignorant, lazy, and selfish could easily be used in this situation, but men who ignore their wives when they cry out for help with sleepless children may be experiencing various underlying issues. These can range from stress and emotional overload to deeper relational or communication problems. Potential reasons could include:

  1. Stress and Fatigue: Both parents might be dealing with significant stress and exhaustion, making it hard for them to respond to each other’s needs.
  2. Emotional Overload: The husband might feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with additional emotional demands, leading to withdrawal.
  3. Communication Issues: There may be a lack of effective communication between the couple, causing misunderstandings about each other’s needs and expectations.
  4. Different Coping Mechanisms: Men and women often have different ways of coping with stress. While some may seek to talk and share feelings, others might withdraw or seek distractions.
  5. Unresolved Conflicts: Previous unresolved conflicts or resentments can cause one partner to be less responsive to the other’s needs.
  6. Cultural or Societal Expectations: Societal norms and cultural expectations might discourage men from expressing their emotions or participating actively in childcare.

Mothers in similar situations can benefit from having conversations about how they feel and what would happen if things got worse. How would that look, and what impact would it have on family dynamics from a health, employment, and relationship perspective?

Some simple suggestions to address the issue include:

  1. Open Communication: Encourage open and honest communication about feelings and needs. Setting aside time to talk without distractions can help both partners express themselves.
  2. Shared Responsibilities: Clearly define and share responsibilities related to childcare and household chores to ensure that both partners feel supported.
  3. Seeking Professional Help: Consider couples counselling or therapy to address deeper issues and improve communication and understanding. Sleep professionals include practitioners trained in CBTi.
  4. Creating a Support Network: Building a support network of family and friends can provide additional help and relieve some of the stress.
  5. Self-Care and Stress Management: Both partners should prioritise self-care and find healthy ways to manage stress. This might include exercise, hobbies, or relaxation techniques.
  6. Empathy and Understanding: Practice empathy and try to understand the perspective and feelings of the other partner. Acknowledging each other’s efforts and struggles can foster a more supportive environment.
  7. Setting Realistic Expectations: Adjust expectations to be more realistic about what can be accomplished, especially during challenging periods like dealing with sleepless children.
  8. Quality Time Together: Spend quality time together as a couple, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, to maintain and strengthen the relationship.

Addressing these issues requires patience, empathy, and a willingness to work together as a team. It’s important to recognize that both partners are likely doing their best under challenging circumstances, and supporting each other can make a significant difference.

Parenting is one of the hardest and most challenging roles you could ever undertake, but getting the right balance makes it not only easier but also much more rewarding and happier for everyone, including the children. Sleep is crucial for quality mental and physical health and prioritising it is one thing you’ll never regret.

Need some advice? Book in for a free Sleep Chat with Sleep Practitioner, Deb Herdman, TODAY! Nigh Nigh can help!

Picture of About the Author

About the Author

Deb Herdman is a certified sleep practitioner specializing in infant, child, teen, and adult insomnia and sleep rhythm disorders.


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The 3 R's to Sleep Success

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