Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Husband says I'm not sophisticated

(92 Posts)
BumpkinMe Mon 05-Aug-13 11:27:10

He was helping DD take a shower yesterday. He is usually quite rough, splashing water on her face when she clearly doesn't like it, and repeatedly soaping her face. He does seem to have a "thing" about being clean.

Yesterday, I could clearly see DD being in distress. She can sometimes exaggerate and moan like a typical 6 year old, but this wasn't one of those times. After me warning him to stop and him not listening, I grab the shower head. He resists. I say "Stand there and I'll show you how to wash her face without her screaming the place down". He says NO and walks away. I see red and grab on to his shirt and don't let go. This tussle goes on for a few seconds. Shit, even writing it down makes me embarrassed.

I shout at him and say "Don't do that to a child. Stop if she doesn't like it. You are wrong to do that" He shouts, "Its only soap and water. And you are unsophisticated." Presumably because I grabbed his shirt. Yes, it wasn't my finest hour.

But next morning, when I try to put the fight behind us, he says he doesn't want to talk to an "unsophisticated low-life" His words exactly.
Is this what he really thinks of me? Haven't spoken to him since. Shell-shocked. And very sad.

How did he make it so personal? About me? I talked about his behaviour. He, on the other hand, is talking about ME. I am so sad.

Sorry for the epic. Just needed an outlet.

I cleaned my daughters teeth until she could do them properly herself. I never had to put her in a head lock ditto hair brushing. hmm

Wellwobbly Tue 06-Aug-13 08:57:54

Gubbins

"When they hated teeth brushing I used to get them in a headlock and do it anyway "

is what my dentist tells me ALL parents should do!! Up until the age of 10 'because children simply do not have the fine motor control necessary for proper dental hygiene'.
We should brush our children's teeth.

I didn't, and they all got hideous decay which took a LOT of money to sort out (see dentist comment above)

and I backed away from brushing hair. Result: my child had a bird's nest from hell and looked like a street kid.

So you are made of sterner stuff than me, Gubbins!! (I wish I had a bit more of your gumption)

Wellwobbly Tue 06-Aug-13 08:53:52

Its a way of deflecting his bad behaviour on to you (perfect male strategy, because we fall for it!)

Ignore his pathetic diversion.

The issue is he was hurting his daughter and bullying her. You were right to, and will always protect someone small from being overpowered.

Keep THAT firmly in the room. Do NOT get sidetracked from this. Ask him to go away and think about why he was misusing power and not caring. Ask him what he was really angry about. Ask him if his mother did this to him. And whether he would like a shower spray with soap in his mouth eyes and ears.

What a wierd way to wash a child in the face! What about a gentle wipe with a face towel?

NotDead Tue 06-Aug-13 08:04:27

Here's how to win the sophisticated argument - tell him that whilst you appreciate his advice as to clearing the plate etc, this is a distinctly english custom and that you would like your daughter to appreciate that internationally it can give the message that your host has not given you enough food.

Ask him to stop referring to exaggerated english/english middle class methods (children are nuisances is one of these!) as 'sophisticated' when really they are 'outdated' whereas sophisticated children can move between customs and audiences flexibly and appropriately.

er he might hate this if one 'sophistication' of his is 'don't question the man - he is head of the household' hmmm

nkf Tue 06-Aug-13 08:01:11

A six year shouldn't be crying when she is showered. Or forced to finish food. Or have someone fretting over lost teeth. I think your feelings are correct. The unsophisticated lowlife comment is rude and stupid.

How did the chat go Bumpkin?

Phineyj Mon 05-Aug-13 20:22:56

I don't suppose by any chance he is one of several boys is he? If he's basically a decent bloke it may be as twinkle said, that he doesn't intend to be rough.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 05-Aug-13 19:38:48

I know my DCs' tones of voice and, when they were younger, when tears were fake or real. I expect in this case both parents knew, too.

If you have had this conversation many times, I assume he was making a point of 'doing it his way', I think he was being deliberately rough because he knew you'd kick off so he wouldn't have to give DD a shower/bath any longer.

The sad thing is that DD was in the middle of this.

Twinklestein Mon 05-Aug-13 19:24:49

See I get the OP, because my dad used to be a bit aggressive with me & my sis - I don't mean anything abusive - just that play was sometimes a bit too rough & not knowing when to stop.

When he was cross he used to hook his hand at the back of our necks & push us around & my sis & I simply will not let him do that to our kids now.

It sounds like the OP's H is playing the way boys play, or like a big friendly dog, not understanding that it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming for small girls.

Big guys don't necessarily know that they can be intimidating.

Personally I would get a bit panicky if someone was spraying water in my face...

cuillereasoupe Mon 05-Aug-13 16:28:58

^absolutely what gubbins said.

BumpkinMe Mon 05-Aug-13 16:18:43

Thanks DamnDeDoubtance. I'm still not impressed with the "low-life" comment.

Even after he said he doesn't want to talk to me in the morning, I sat down anyway for a couple of minutes and stated calmly why I was upset and how DD is a person in her own right and how her wishes have to be taken into account. I didn't talk about his name-calling, because at that point I was also feeling guilty for having lost my rag.

He had a face like thunder, but I couldn't skulk away without saying my piece. I am not looking forward to another chat. But I'm sure I don't want his help at bathtime anymore. sad

Whatever he was doing, in your own words, distressed her, if someone is distressed you stop, you don't just carry on regardless.

Hope your chat goes well Bumpkin and you clear the air and get your point across.

BumpkinMe Mon 05-Aug-13 16:02:47

Thanks, Gubbins. That is why I didn't stray into the "abuse" territory. But I can see how people can be concerned and flag it up. I like it that MNers are coming at it from different angles and views.

GreyWhites Mon 05-Aug-13 15:47:04

" DD is only 6 and he should pick his battles."

I think you should learn too. If there are ways you want him to do things with your daughter, you need to discuss this calmly, and later on. When you see him doing things that wind you up, just walk away. Make a note to discuss it with him calmly later.

I say this because my partner sounds a lot like yours, he does loads of things which annoy the hell out of me, but confronting him with it whilst he's doing it is never going to get the best response from him, he will just dig his heels in. Screaming and shouting, grabbing him and telling your partner "don't come near her anymore" in front of your daughter is far more liable to cause lasting damage to her than an overly rough wipe-down with a flannel. Get things in perspective. If you think your way is right, trust that if you convey this in a rational way, he will respond positively. Even if he refuses to listen you've managed to get your point across without demeaning yourself and traumatising your daughter.

Gubbins Mon 05-Aug-13 15:42:59

Good grief! He's washing her face, making sure she clears her plate and gets some fresh air. He's not abusing her. There is no soap in her eyes; OP specifically said her eyes were shut. She has also said he doesn't get angry with her at mealtimes. He parents differently from his partner but he is as much her parent as her mother and may, stupidly, have tried to prove that point when washing her.

My 8 year old is crap at washing her face, so when the crust and filth get too much I will do it. I use soap (when did soap become a prohibited substance?) and wipe all over her face. She scrunches up her face and would probably choose that I didn't do it, but if she's not going to do it herself then I will. When they hated teeth brushing I used to get them in a headlock and do it anyway and I'm afraid I also carried on with weekly hair washing despite the wails. Call social services on me now.

wordyBird Mon 05-Aug-13 15:10:56

He does sound more of a bully than 'old school' to be frank.

But this
he will go on doing them again and again, even when he is requested not to
rings major warning bells for me.

Because it indicates a very casual attitude to consent, and other people's boundaries.

It has to be confronted head on – do not give in for a quiet life.

daytoday Mon 05-Aug-13 14:56:29

Sorry, cut out too soon. I get the impression that there is a battle going on between you both about control in the family?

daytoday Mon 05-Aug-13 14:53:47

No, main carer doesn't get the monopoly to dictate things their way every time. Its good for kids to do things differently with dad / gran etc. You might be giving clear signals for your daughter to dislike how dad does things. It would be very easy for me to give these signals to my kids - to undermine my husband. Especially at bath time and bedtime when everyone is tired.

captainmummy Mon 05-Aug-13 14:49:36

He does sound like a bully. 'Old school'? Does that mean that as she gets older and starts defying him it'll be smacking? Or worse?

Forget about the 'moral high ground' - you were defending your dd.

You both need to set some rules - definitely about parenting, and also about how you settle differences.

unsophisticated? How weird.

Potteresque97 Mon 05-Aug-13 14:20:47

Re the clearing plates at dinner, dh may want to research that, there's a daily fail article on links to eating disorders from that which certainly is related to my experience.

BumpkinMe Mon 05-Aug-13 14:16:11

LEM he is quite laid-back when she doesn't do something right, or isn't top at school, but gets weirdly competitive about things like her not having lost a tooth. He frets about friends or classmates having already lost three milk teeth. That's why I'm wary of coming right out and saying he is a complete bastard.

Anyway, some very good points here. Will be talking to DH later and if the discussion keeps going round in loops, I know I have to face up to some harsh truths.

Thanks everyone. Very grateful for your kindness.

Tortington Mon 05-Aug-13 14:12:53

at 6 she should be able to shower herself. if she gets out and has missed something, tell her to do it again. she'll get it right eventually.

if you pander to this kind of behaviour with either of them
away with the fairies not an excuse to not be able to shower properly at 6.

the same way as trying to get him to talk to you repeatedly when he has clearly shown that he wishes to weild an emotional power through sulking and namecalling will only feed this.

Fairylea Mon 05-Aug-13 14:06:33

Your dd is distressed because her dad is putting soap all over her face and eyes and carrying on doing it despite knowing she is upset .... and your thread is about him calling your unsophisticated?! Really?

It's almost like the way he treats your dd is by and by. To me getting soap in her eyes and letting her cry about it and carrying on is abusive behaviour. It is cruel and unnecessary and you should be asking him to leave unless he can stop being such a bully.

crazyhead Mon 05-Aug-13 13:55:22

I am 36 and am still pretty vague about how thoroughly I clean in the shower, and I daresay sometimes I don't finish my dinner. Astonishingly, I am a reasonably well rounded individual and fairly successful. Due to my own shortcomings, I can't imagine hassling my son about these things! I mean, if he goes through his whole life being vague in the shower, who cares?

You should never fight physically in front of your daughter, but all I'd say is that unless your husband holds himself up to the astonishingly high/spurious standards he seems set for your daughter, he is a bit of a hypocrite, and if he isn't prepared to change his ways, you've got a problem here.

This isn`t about moral high ground though. you need to evaluate if this is a healthy, balanced relationship. If it isn`t then it will be having a negative impact on both you and your daughter.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now