Darkness VS Light: A Battle of Wills

From the time I was 6 months old, I had a preference for light. As my mother recalls, I would cry in my crib until she flipped on my clown lamp. I was hooked early and spent years sleeping with my overhead light on. Even now as an adult, I use a nightlight to sleep. Truth be told, if I could keep the bathroom or hallway light on, I would. But, as a grown-up I have conceded how wasteful and ridiculous this is (and my husband won’t let me), so I settle for the dimmed glow of nightlights placed in the hallways, bathrooms and bedrooms of my house.

You would think that this need for light – otherwise known as my irrational fear of the dark – would sufficiently brainwash my children into joining me in this very passionate campaign against the darkness. Somehow though, I have raised two staunch haters of this dimmed glow. Two of my four children have decided to rebel against my light-loving ways. And one of these said children is on a campaign to stomp out my light. The teenager figured out years ago that his only option was closing his door and covering his head with his covers. But, this is not enough for my daughter. This 7.5-year-old fierce little lady has stood up and shouted “no more light.”

Darkness vs light - A battle of wills

I thought my conviction would be enough to withstand such a campaign. I thought 37 years of faithful belief would be enough. I thought buying her attractive light blocking sleep masks would solve this issue. I did my best to sell them to her, but, alas I am raising a tough-minded and stubborn little one.

And even though she wears her sleep mask like an 80-year-old woman, she can still sense when someone has dared to flick on the light.

Her screams of “THE LIGHT,” can be heard from all corners of our three-story house.

My husband and I tiptoe into the hallway to grab a vitamin from the linen closet and we hear it, “Turn off the light.”

I run to the hall bathroom to grab floss, “THE LIGHT!!!”

I open my door even a crack, “Close your door… I can see your light!”

The worst is when I wake up to find all my nightlights unplugged. Like a knife in my heart I gasp at the sight of my beacons of comfort on the ground.

The difficult thing is my little lover of darkness and I are battling for the same reason. I need the light to get rid of the shadows in the room that still occasionally make my stomach drop. She wants complete darkness so there is no light to reflect any shadows. Our sameness is overwhelming. Yet, our approach… our method of responding to our fears is quite contrasting.

It has become a source of nightly frustration. A battle of wills. A battle of fears. A battle between not only me and the 7-year-old, but also occasionally between the 7-year-old and the 3-year-old who share a room. About every third night my husband and I are yelling and threatening begging and pleading for them to “figure out a way to compromise on the level of darkness.” As if this even makes sense.

It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.

I try to laugh about the ridiculousness of it all, but then I wonder which battle is next. What campaign will she embark upon once this victory is securely under her belt? I have a feeling this is the start of some very long and drawn out battles.

I know as the adult, I have to take her fears seriously.. and I am doing my best (I am down to only a nightlight in my own room now), but why oh why did she have to figure out my kryptonite so early in our relationship? Why oh why did she go after the light.

Please someone tell me you are facing equally ridiculous battles with your little ones.



Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




  1. I have three kids- always had to have nightlights in their rooms… they would not stay in bed otherwise! Thanks for sharing!
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  2. sometimes i still freak out when i walk late at night
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  3. I’m with you- NO LIGHT. I battle the mask because I don’t know how to keep it on at night!
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  4. I am facing an equally ridiculous battle with my strong willed 12 year old that is ironically the same – except opposite. I joke that my husband is a vampire because he likes complete darkness when he sleeps – no night lights, blinds & curtains shut tight, etc. My husband also happens to be in the business of energy conservation whence further fuels his desire to turn off and many lights as possible. My daughters however, has some mild anxiety issues and is much like you – she needs some kind of light and panics when there is none. So, every night, we put her to bed with a night light in the hall, a night light in her room, and a lava lamp that is as bright as the sun turned on as well. Every night, before we go to bed, my husband sneaks in and turns everything off. Every morning, we find that during the night, she has gotten up and turned her closet light on. My husband gets upset and thinks it is ridiculous. She doesn’t understand why he makes such a big deal about it. (Truthfully, I don’t either!)
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