Struggling to be a good Dad.(12 Posts)
Hi all, new to the forum,
Not sure where to start....
I'm 41, have two wonderful boys 9 and 7 and a wonderful wife who is a full time mum. But the for the last few months (maybe more) I have struggled and I feel down the moment I get home.
I seem to be forever making my kids unhappy or upset, especially during the week when I arrive home from work.
I'm either 'angry' or 'grumpy' or 'miserable' or 'heavy handed dad' and I'm starting to feel that this is the lasting memory my boys are going to have of me as they get older.
I try so hard when I come home to be happy and fun and the dad I want to be but it always seems to end with my getting annoyed and frustrated with the arguments and shouting that invariably happen at the end of the day before bedtime. I do want to be a good dad and husband but I feel like I am failing miserably. I know that I'm not a happy go lucky sort of guy, I take things far to seriously and I find it difficult to talk much about anything but I so want to be a better dad and want my boys to see me in a different light before its too late.
My wife constantly tells me that its just because of the time of night that I arrive home and that I only get to see the tired side of them but even during the weekend the minute something goes wrong or a problem starts, I try to resolve the situation but just seem to make matters worse. I know my wife often doesn't agree with my approach and says that I should be more laid back and let things go but I just can't.
I'm not expecting any miracle answers and know that parenthood is a constant challenge but I just wish I could be just a little more relaxed and fun, even though its just not me.!
I think probably the best thing you could have done is have this kind of self-awareness!
I'm really sorry, feeding time here but your post really resonated with me. DH and I both read Playful Parenting when we had our baby because we would both have described our parents like you describe your situation and we didn't want to do that either. It's a brilliant book, helps you re-connect with your loved ones through play - either actual play or just learning to be playful and is just a really lovely approach.
Good luck! None of this is easy, and our DS is only one! Well done you for knowing what you don't want to be
My husband struggles this way sometimes too. He finds it so hard when he asks the kids to do something and they don't just do it. 'How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk' is a great book, it has really helped my husbands relationship with our two.
Why don't you have some time with your LOs without your wife. It will help them to see you in charge and learn your boundaries, help you reconnect and also help your wife by giving her time out whilst also showing everyone that you are capable too. Outside would be good as it helps relax everyone. It's easy to loose your cool we all do it but don't forget that your boys are old enough to understand that people have feelings. Perhaps you could talk them about your feelings as it will help their emotional literacy too. When your feeling angry, tell them & explain why.
If it wasn't for your age and sex of your DC I would suspect that you were in fact my DH
There are some real positives in your post, your DW is supportive and is right when she says that you are probably seeing the worst of their behaviour. What time do you get in and what time is their bedtime?
Another positive is that you know there is an issue and are keen to see things improve
The askdrsears site has some good tips on talking to kids, sorry can't do the links at the moment.
Agree about spending time with them without your DW too. It doesn't have to be expensive, you could cook a meal together on your day off, bake, vue cinemas often have films for 1.75 or try a bike ride.
The main things that can make things worse in our house is Dhs tiredness, but reluctance to go to bed at a reasonable time and also playing on the ipad or phone instead of taking an interest in the kids.
Thanks to all for the supportive replies.
I will definitely consider the book and website suggestions.
I do try to make the extra effect at the weekend and will always take my boys to football and hockey practice or occasionally a day out on the trains (my eldest is fascinated by the underground) or fishing, just the three of us. Sometimes, the day is wonderful but even when the situation seems perfect, something would happen or one of them would do or say something I consider unacceptable and things would quickly turn bad. I know it goes back to me being too serious and strict and wanting them to always be model children but I can't always seem to see what's happening until its too late and the day is spoilt.
I also know that I should talk more to my wife (something I've always struggled with, talking in general I mean) and maybe more to my boys about how I feel, certainly my eldest. I don't generally get that much time with them during the week after I get home from work, maybe half an hour to an hour. We try to get them to bed at a reasonable hour around 7:30/8:00 and my day is fairly long, up at 5:30, so I guess it could sometimes be tiredness on my part that contributes to a fractious end to the day.
Your post actually sounded really flat to me and you talked about feeling down about this and being the grumpy and miserable Dad. Are you okay otherwise? Is it possible you actually are a bit grumpy and miserable at the moment - and you're focusing on this aspect (your relationship with your children) when you're actually a bit down and miserable with life right now? Just a thought.
Otherwise, any chance you could push back their bedtimes half an hour and fit in a family board game or similar a couple of times a week? Some of the new ones aren't bad and kids love that focused family time and idly chatting/laughing time together. My children are a similar age and can cope with a slightly later bedtime if it's calm and enjoyable activity at that time of night.
Your wife is right, during the week you are coming home at precisely the time when all hell breaks loose in a lot of households. Bedtime can be a really tricky time, everyone is tired (including you!) and it can be hard not to resort to raising your voice. We both work (me, part-time), but I do the school pick-up and dinner so when DH comes in around 6 it's pretty full on.
I find that giving him time to get changed etc without being jumped all over or immediately handed something to do the minute he gets in the door helps. Just 5 minutes to switch from work mode into Dad mode seems to make all the difference. He still shouts occasionally, but not as much as before.
I think the tendency is (for me at least!) to expect full on, non-stop Dad involvement during the weekends especially if your wife is a SAHM. You both need to recognise your need for some downtime too and we do alternative weekends for a lie in (we have 7.30am swimming on a sat otherwise we would do sat/sun alternating instead). Having some 1:1 time with each child is really helpful too, it seems to dilute the intensity a bit.
Hi there, welcome to MN! I thought your post was very self-aware and commendable that you want to be a better dad. I wonder if actually you might be doing a better job than you think you are. If the boys are playing up then it is quite reasonable to pull them up and discipline them - that might make you unpopular at the time, but in the long term boys don't generally hold a grudge against strict dads. It's not a bad thing for them to see a dad who enforces good standards of behaviour, and you want them to grow up into respectful, disciplined young men themselves. If you find you are sniping and snapping at them a lot, rather than calmly disciplining, you need to look at ways you can improve your response to them when their behaviour irritates you. And of course it will irritate you - you've been busy at work and are tired, you don't want to listen to whiny kids fighting with each other! You may or may not be much of a reader but I found "How to talk so kids will listen (and listen so kids will talk)" an excellent book for helping improve the way I respond to my children. I too went through a period where I found it very hard not to nag and snap and shout when my patience was wearing thin.
I think it might help to lower expectations regarding weekday evenings. Yes, unfortunately you are seeing the boys then when they are tired and whingey at the end of the school day - in an ideal world you would come home from work and their little faces would light up, they'd say "yay, Daddy's home!" and happily tell you all about their day. The reality is that they are tired and grumpy, and it is easiest to take it out on the poor parent who has actually been working hard but in their eyes has been absent for the day. And then of course because you get scenario B instead of scenario A, your mood drops further, you take it a little personally that they don't seem delighted to see you, and you start to snap and get annoyed by their less than charming behaviour. What time do you get in from work? My dh gets in pretty late, usually shortly before the kids' bedtime, and he has a bit of a play with ds1 (dd2 is just a baby) and then reads him a bedtime story. Ds1 frequently plays up if dh puts him to bed during the week, testing the boundaries. Can you arrive home and start off with a cuppa, before you try to get involved in anything the boys are doing?
I do recommend the book, anyway. And if you're feeling low quite a lot it might be worth talking to your GP to make you sure you aren't actually suffering with a bit of depression. All the best.
You sound like my dp too!I also bought the playful parenting book and found some really good tips in it.I was suprised actually at how easy it can be to diffuse situations with play.Our dcs are a bit younger.I think sometimes my dp forgets that they are only children and sometimes his expectations don't match with where they are at developmentally(not little adults).You sound very caring and self aware.As someone who works with children...sometimes when you're not in the best of form you just have to fake it !I also know from chatting to my own gp and observing my own dp that there are a lot of people out there suffering from depression and stress in the current climate .Be kind to yourself!
Agree that you do sound very flat. How are you apart from the boys? Are you feeling flat and tired generally?
Things that always makes my DH feel better is reducing time online, especially after 10pm, doing some exercise and eating well.
Perhaps these may help but do agree that talking to your wife and boys more does sound like a good idea.
What about an experiment where you decide to parent without your usual strict standards for a weekend .. Take them out and if they annoy you just make a mental note tht you can talk to them about it later - and Dont let it spoil your day ....just ignore and carry on ... You could see if you found things went a bit smoother
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