to think DH being a spare part in parenting can't be cured?

(48 Posts)
PeppaPug Sat 23-Aug-14 23:43:22

I have spoken to DH on several occasions about how I feel he is a 'spare part' with regard to parenting. He never disciplines the children or makes decisions, he will always just wait and wait until I take action. For example - tonight I was ironing (exciting Saturday night, hey!) and DD (2) was struggling to do something. I could see him in the mirror imploring me to do something (he was sitting watching tv) and he didn't move. DD got frustrated and was then round my ankles crying, I said I'm ironing DD, why don't you play X with daddy?', she said no and carried on crying. He ignored her for ten mins before saying 'should I try and distract her?' by which time she was bloody distraught and would go nowhere near him.

Yesterday, I was brushing my teeth and could see DD playing with a ball with her brother. It kept going near the top of the stairs which have no gate with DD chasing it hysterically. I could see DH looking concerned but he just kept looking from me to the stairs, waiting for me to say something to them.

He has never told our 2 year old off, encouraged her to eat/listen/be polite etc and his only contribution is to possibly play if she initiates it. Everything else is left to me. He'll nag the older children but not actually do anything when they don't listen to him. AIBU to think he is an incurable sap and to stop stressing myself out with resentment?

MrsWinnibago Sat 23-Aug-14 23:47:11

Do you ever prompt him? I know you shouldn't have to...but have you tried saying "DH...stop that ball." or "DH, sort that out for DD...I'm ironing."

I have to do this a bit...not as bad as your situation but still have to remind DH.

He'd just sit there while the kids ran around all night. I just say "Dh, put the kids to bed...stop sitting there like a big lump" and he'll say "Oh right! Yeah!"

I don't know if it's because he's knackered due to VERY long hours and physcial job or just that he's a bit dozy.

PeppaPug Sat 23-Aug-14 23:57:32

He is looking back and forth to me though, so clearly knows something should be said/done but chooses to wait for me to step up. He'll see me washing up and ask if the children are having baths/showers tonight but wouldn't think to actually do it while I'm busy - he'll wait for me to do it. If I asked him to, the children would say they're busy/in a minute/they want me and unless I step in, nothing happens. It's exhausting.

RainbowB7 Sun 24-Aug-14 00:04:07

This would drive me crazy. You said you have discussed this issue with him on several occasions so what does he say?!

Tikimon Sun 24-Aug-14 00:07:31

Have you talked to him about this? My mom had the same problem with my dad, he wouldn't discipline us and she always had to be the bad guy. He'd finally yell at us and we'd call him on it "You're only yelling because mom's making you". We never took him seriously when he did try disciplining us.

You want him to be a parent that if the need does arise, the kids will listen to and respect.

Nicknacky Sun 24-Aug-14 00:11:22

I have the same problem. I have to guide my H all the time and it's driving me nuts. I don't have an answer for you.

He jus absolves all responsibility to me and it is driving me up the wall, I have to double check him all the time. Even if I'm in the bath I can hear that he doesn't talk to the kids.

AgentZigzag Sun 24-Aug-14 00:13:14

I'm saying this in a kind way grin but could you have everything under so much control that it makes him a bit edgy when he has to make a decision for fear he's going to get it 'wrong' (by your standards)?

If he's looking to you for what he should be doing, does that suggest that he can usually find the answer if he does? Ie, do you tell him how things should be a lot of the time?

It's like he doesn't trust his own judgements and looks to you as the adult he doesn't feel he is.

The things you've talked about make him sound anxious. But then do you think though that he maybe plays on you not being able to see your DC upset (or even hurt!) and just sits back with his anxious act while you smooth things out?

What was he like when your older ones were small? Small children can be a bit erratic/unpredictable, could it be that that he's not connecting with?

MrsWinnibago Sun 24-Aug-14 00:17:52

Yes, are you very scheduled? Is everything done at the same exact time?

If not, I think you will have to accept that yes..he IS looking at you waiting for you to do it and then TELL HIM TO DO IT. grin I have to do that.

Delphiniumsblue Sun 24-Aug-14 07:28:31

He is the extra child! He obviously sees you as the 'one in charge'.
How often had he had them alone and chance to build up a relationship without you to turn to?
I would go out alone. Announce you are going shopping next Saturday and go. Don't issue instructions- it is his house, his children.
If that is a step too far then go out at bedtime, even if you just walk around the block, and let him get them to bed.
My guess is that you took charge with the first baby and he let you. Now is the time to step back.

redexpat Sun 24-Aug-14 09:43:06

Agentzigzag beat me to it. I think you need to have a calm discussion about it when the kids arent around to find out why he cant or wont take initiative. Is it that he sees childcare as womens work, hedoesnt know what to do, hes scared of your reaction? Whatever the readon he needs to understand that he is equally responsible for bringing up the kids. Would he read a book or go to a class?

Delphiniumsblue Sun 24-Aug-14 09:50:03

Throw him in at the deep end- that is what OP did, unless she was very experienced with babies. Go out- he will cope.

PeppaPug Sun 24-Aug-14 22:24:07

He says he worries he'll make things worse (I.e. If a DC is upset or on the verge of being) so he walks away...! Going out is pointless - it's when I'm there that I need him to step up, otherwise he and the kids expect me to do everything when I'm there. He sees me not being there as him 'distracting' the kids from my absence hmm

puntasticusername Sun 24-Aug-14 22:55:34

AgentZigZag speaks wisely - listen and absorb all of that.

If DH is worried about "getting things wrong" it suggests that perhaps he's concerned about doing something that doesn't meet with your approval - how do you manage parenting day to day? Do you discuss and agree things, or does he tend to just go along with whatever you decide?

Delphiniumsblue Mon 25-Aug-14 07:36:51

You have made yourself senior parent and he looks to you for guidance. Going out isn't pointless- if you go out for 6 hours he will have to do more than distract! If you want him to step up while you are there he needs to have had lots and lots of experience of coping alone- the way you have.
Go away for the weekend.
For some reason he feels you are in charge, things have to be done to your approval and so he leaves you to it. He needs to learn that he can cope, he can do things differently and use his own judgement. Give him time and space to do it.
It won't change if you are always there or only pop out for an hour or two.
Go away for a night, don't be on hand. They will survive!
My guess is that you won't take my advice because you don't trust him and there lies the problem- he will never be the parent you want him to be while you make him your extra child and won't clear off and leave him to it without instructions. I expect you see yourself as senior parent too.

PeppaPug Mon 25-Aug-14 10:29:37

I have never ever criticised any parenting choice he's made and we've never fallen out so it's not like he can be afraid of my reaction. I ask him questions all the time to try and agree on things and share ideas but he just says he doesn't mind, whatever I think is best etc. He has looked after them alone when I've worked and muddled through with crisps for breakfast and no boundaries til I return, then I have double the work getting the kids back to normal again plus they cling to mettwice as much.

Mrsjayy Mon 25-Aug-14 10:45:44

Tell him you trust him to make decisions and of course they might make a fuss sometimes he doesn't want the responsibility for some reason that would drive me daft

StackladysMorphicResonator Mon 25-Aug-14 10:53:40

I think you need to just TELL him to do stuff rather than assume he'll step up of his own accord. Once you've been doing that for a few months he'll be used to doing more (hopefully) so won't be as passive.

Mrsjayy Mon 25-Aug-14 11:01:42

That is what he is passive couldn't think of the word yes just tell him to do whatever needs doing

PausingFlatly Mon 25-Aug-14 11:21:34

You could be describing an ex of mine to a T.

He was a scared, watchful child, and grew into a scared, watchful adult. He never stepped up to the plate about anything - just hunkered down and let the world happen around him, for fear of making it worse.

Giving instructions didn't help in the long run - he just focussed on following them to the letter, putting me even more in charge, and allowing him to be even more helpless.

The only thing that came close to working was showing him the Even Worse Thing that would happen if he failed to act. That and discussions about why he behaved like that, and being clear that his behaviour was harming the people he claimed to love.

But in the end his extreme passivity is the reason he's an ex: I just couldn't carry him any longer.

Sorry, that's not terribly helpful. sad

PeppaPug Mon 25-Aug-14 22:54:48

Precisely Pausing - telling him what to do and how to do it (because he'd keep asking and asking) is just another decision and job for me and isn't helpful. For example: the kids need a bath, can you run one and put them in while I wash up please? Him:do they have bbubbles? How deep shall I make it? Who should go in first? Will you check the temperature? Etc. Last week I had a doctors appointment with our toddler. I sent him a message asking him to make a picnic for the trip we were going on afterwards. He sent me over 7 more messages with questions - I.e. Would you like thin or thick bread? What crisps shall I pack? Is 5 apple's enough? Will DD have her crusts on or off? She was there with him to ask!! It just becomes easier to do it myself.

capant Mon 25-Aug-14 23:00:46

Yes my friend ended up divorcing her Husband for this. She got fed up of taking all the responsibility, and doing all the work, and decided it would be easier to be a lone parent, and it was.

RandomMess Mon 25-Aug-14 23:06:42

Delegate him some specific tasks in their entirety for a week at a time and tell him he is to do them without your input! So bath & put the kids to bed, next week could be giving them all breakfast, following that erm meal planning, shopping and cooking for a fortnight. You will tell him that the point is that he takes on the full responsibility for the tasks as you will not do his thinking for him anymore.

HygieneFreak Mon 25-Aug-14 23:16:21

Oh god this is my husband all over!!!

PausingFlatly Mon 25-Aug-14 23:16:22

I got nowhere at all until he acknowledged there was a problem, and started looking at why he was behaving like that.

Because even a whole task, without explanation of why he had to do it alone, simply became a game of him trying to intuit "What would Pausing do" - rather than engaging with the reality in front of him.

PausingFlatly Mon 25-Aug-14 23:28:13

I see a lot of this on the Relationships board, and posters saying "He's making a mess on purpose so you'll take over the job, because he's lazy".

And I'm sure in many cases that's true, but not for ex. He was very generous and would go to the ends of the earth for anyone - but only if they told him what to do. He was an extreme people pleaser, paralysed by the fear of getting things wrong.

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