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  • Writer's pictureDedan K. Bruner



Father of 2

Nashville, Tennessee

Between 2 and 2.5, Sophia was potty trained. Soon after getting the concept of using the toilet, she was adamant about not wearing any diapers, including nighttime pull-ups. I was very proud of her, but the first night without them, she wet the bed. As she did the second and third night. Cleaning up wet sheets, blankets, and mattress at three in the morning is not fun. It would have been easy to get mad at her for wetting the bed and to make her wear nighttime pull-ups for a while. I knew, however, that she was not wetting the bed on purpose or for any nefarious reasons. She was two and didn’t fully know how to control her bladder or recognize the need to pee while sleeping. I did not want to shake her confidence and set her back in her transition from wearing a diaper. I also did not want to keep cleaning up at 3am, though. The most logical answer to me, then, was to help her learn to recognize when she had to go potty at night.

Since she was consistent in wetting the bed at 3am every night, I set my alarm for 2:30am. Each night, I got up at 2:30, got her out of bed, put her on the toilet, and asked her to go potty. She did, and then I would congratulate her and rock her back to sleep. I read some materials about bed-wetting and many kids continue to have accidents until they are five, so I resigned myself to having this nighttime routine for a long time. About three weeks into it, however, I slept through my alarm and woke up in the morning to find she had not had an accident! I decided not to set my alarm the next night to see what would happen. Once again, she slept through the night and had no accident. She is 6 now and has never had another bed wetting episode.

Fathering Tip:

Everything in childhood is about transitions. Our kids are growing up no matter what we do, but part of growing up is transitioning from one stage of childhood to the next. Each transition can be difficult and scary for the kid. And each child takes a different amount of time to master the skills necessary to complete the transition. Our job as dads is to serve as a loving guide for our children. Make them feel safe, and make sure we are teaching them the lessons we want them to learn. If I had been angry at her accidents, I may have taught her to be ashamed of making mistakes. If I had made her go back to wearing a pull-up, I may have taught her to avoid taking on challenges. Since challenging oneself and being willing to make mistakes are key components of learning and growing, these would have been poor lessons for a young child to learn. Instead, by being willing to put in the work required to be a loving and supportive guide and teacher, I taught my daughter that I am with her on her journey through life and I helped her learn the skills she needed for this particular transition. Being a guide for your child in their transition to adulthood is difficult and full of hard work for father and child alike. When being a dad gets hard, I remember this experience with my daughter and the lesson it taught me.

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