Dads of Bedwetting Kids
Family support is crucial for the older child who wets the bed.
Kerry Brougham from Portland, Ore., feels that is why her 8-year-old son has handled his nighttime enuresis so well – he has support from both his mother and his father.
"My husband, Tom, has always been very supportive and understanding of our son's bedwetting," Brougham says. "This is huge for us, because our son is very concerned about fitting in and doing things 'right.' If Tom ever made him feel like he wasn't 'normal,' or 'should have grown out of it by now,' our son would be crushed. Instead, Daddy treats this as the normal, physiological thing it is. We all know our son will grow out of it, and until then, we deal with it matter-of-factly, as a family."
Some children are not so lucky. Sometimes fathers are not so understanding.
Why Wouldn't Fathers Understand?
With so much information on bedwetting available, why are there still fathers who don't get it?
Tammy Gold, a licensed psychotherapist and certified parent coach in New York City, says there could be many different reasons why a dad might not be understanding of his child's bedwetting. "There is a great deal of misinformation regarding nighttime enuresis, such as it was being caused by psychological stressors (which can be true in very few cases) or that the child can control it," Gold says. "Dads could feel nervous regarding the subject because of the misconceptions or uncomfortable in general speaking about subject matters that perhaps were taboo in their homes. This could be especially so if it is a dad speaking to [a] pre-adolescent female child."
Gold says that work also could play a part in it. Some dads spend a great deal of time at work and sometimes are not involved in every detail of their child's life. This is especially so if there are many children in the home. Dad could come home after the children are asleep and leave before they awake and therefore cannot witness firsthand what is happening to the child.
"Dads may not understand or get involved because they do not want to make a bigger deal of things than needed," Gold says. "They figure that the child will outgrow this situation in time. They want to respect the child and perhaps believe that saying nothing will respect the child's privacy and show that Dad is not bothered by the nighttime enuresis. However, by not asking questions they prevent themselves from understanding what is really going on."
Another possibility is that some fathers may not believe the situation is under "daddy" jurisdiction. They may believe bedwetting is Mom's job and she has control over how to deal with it.
Can Dad's Lack of Understanding Affect the Child?
"If the child believes Dad is embarrassed or disappointed this could cause a great deal of unnecessary shame and stress for the child," Gold says. "The child is already feeling disappointed and embarrassed in themselves and it can be an overwhelming burden to carry around the additional views of the parent. Anyway that the father feels conflicted can negatively impact the child if [the situation is] not handled clearly and positively. The child needs constant positive reinforcing that the situation will get better."
Gold believes it is important that the child feels Dad is his partner in this and is helping him to get better so that he does not feel so alone and out of control. Speaking clearly, directly, calmly and positively about the subject will also help the child feel less like a baby. If the father is conflicted or unclear, the child is left to translate those feelings on his own.
"If possible, Dad should suppress his conflicted emotions in front of his child and present a calm and confident front for the child," Gold says. "This shows the child that the parents believe in them and are confident that everything will resolve itself."
Dr. Diane Troung, a board certified pediatrician with Boulevard Pediatrics in Endocino, Calif., and co-founder of MDMoms, agrees. "Both parents should be patient, understanding and supportive through this process," Dr. Troung says. "On those wet mornings, perhaps Mom can help the child change out of his clothes and Dad can help the child with changing out the bed linens. Don't assign blame or shame to the child. As with most developmental issues, having a united, empathic front from both parents will help tremendously in seeing that this phase will, too, pass."
Mothers aren't the only one with great influence over their children. Fathers can have a huge impact on their psychological well-being. Having a father who is supportive and understanding about his child's nighttime enuresis will go a long way in helping the child overcome her problem.