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Is DH too sensitive about DCs behaviour?

(28 Posts)

We have 3 DCs ages 7,6 and 3. DH is a good Dad. He isn't tge most playful of dads (my own DF used to play with us loads as kids and going round my parents house now he pretty much looks after the kids while I chat to DM)
DH though is always worried about the kids behaviour. If they're not sat silently he is on their back about not upsetting their DGs/uncle/aunt/next door's cactus! They are always too loud or too raucous or something. If we're in the b park he can't let them just run about. They can't go further than 6 feet away he panics. It's exhausting as it causes endless tantrums from the kids and shouting from him. I feel as though I have 4 children sometimes. It's starting to really exhaust me.
is it me should I let go a bit and agree with him or try to get him to lighten up and let v them just be children sometimes. I don't mean I don't discipline them I do. But not when they are laughing and playing a game where they are safe and secure. He worries they are.annoying m people and that people will think they are showing he cant keep them under control.

Sorry epic and a bit muddled if you manage to understand great...I'm typing on a phone with a dying battery so trying to be quick..sorry!!

OxfordBags Wed 19-Feb-14 11:27:40

This sounds like this is all about his own issues. Perhaps he was made to feel like a nuisance, and brought up in a 'children should be seen and not heard' environment. But his behaviour is really going to adversely affect them. How are they meant to work out what is desirable or undesirable behaviour, or what's safe or not, or what boundaries can be pushed and how far, and so on, if he's constantly trying to correct and control them? Children who are constantly made to feel like they're in the wrong will become naughty because they'll feel 'damned if I do, damned if I don't'. Like you say, they're throwing endless tantrums - it must be so bloody frustrating and upsetting for them to be restrained and treated like naughty kids all the time. And if they're always told everything isn't safe, it's going to make them very timid and scared of the world. He's going to make them nervous, ashamed, confused and resentful. Or possibly cause the very behaviour he's obsessed about.

This really is all about him, not them. He can't keep being like this just to make himself feel better about his own hang-ups.

PlumpPartridge Wed 19-Feb-14 11:29:49

I agree with Oxford entirely. It is his problem and emphatically should not be passed on to them. He needs to sort it out. I imagine you would happy to support him in doing so!

He has said he'd like to go to parenting classes or something but he works and they are always through the day. Any suggestions I could put forward as an alternative would be gratefully received

Minnieisthedevilmouse Wed 19-Feb-14 11:34:36

He's too concerned about other people isn't he? Does he really think everyone is watching him? But ott def

He doesn't want the DCs to be seen as naughty children. He had to grow up very quickly as a child. His DM and DF had a bad relationship and he became his mother's confidante at about 12 years old. (He has a card from her from when b he was 16 saying you are my rock i couldn't manage without you) she was a very nervous person. His DF had a long term affair and he has a bad view of him as a Father. But seems to be mirroring alot of his parenting ideals.

cory Wed 19-Feb-14 11:59:25

I was a bit like that when dc were younger. Not at home, but when we were staying with the extended family as we did every summer and Christmas. And then my anxiety kept transferring to him and he got louder and louder, giving me more to be anxious about. It was a vicious circle. In the end my mum started laying the table so that I wasn't eating in the same room as ds. And miraculously he turned a lot calmer and everybody's mealtimes became more of a pleasure.

I wasn't even the product of bad parenting myself, just over-anxious about what people thought.

But the interesting thing was that taking the pressure off ds actually made him behave a lot better.

Dcs are usually beautifully behaved when we're out and occasionally when DH relaxes he can see that. He just does seem so anxious about them. Their safety and their behaviour.

OxfordBags Wed 19-Feb-14 12:12:48

It was very unfair that so mich responsibility was placed on his young shoulders, and, whilst it's lovely for a child to be good to their parents, a teen boy should not have to be his mother's 'rock'. I imagine that he felt like he had to be very quiet and ultra well-behaved if his parents had a rocky marriage, then he was left being like a substitute parent for an anxious and overbearing mother. Perhaps his father's affair seemed like 'lax behaviour', which is another reason why he's obsessed with being prim and proper with the DC.

I think he needs counselling/therapy, as opposed to parenting classes. These problems clearly stem from his own childhood, and he needs to explore and heal those, which parenting classes won't help with. He sort of needs the opposite of parenting classes, as he's parenting too obsessively, IYSWIM.

You can pay for therapy at times outside of work, but people are also allowed some time off work for therapy. I know many people are anti-therapy, but he can't be allowed to sacrifice your DC's happiness, self esteem and freedom to his problems any longer.

cory Wed 19-Feb-14 12:15:11

Could you try to persuade him that stepping back will result both in better behaviour and in safer behaviour? It is, after all, his and your job to train them up into the kind of people who gradually take more and more responsibility for their own behaviour until they are safe to release on the world at 18. Could you point out that children who are never given any freedom to practise can end up a danger to themselves and others because they simply don't expect to have to do their own thinking?

peanutbutterhoney Wed 19-Feb-14 12:17:30

There is a great book called Playful Parenting which talks about the importance of play for children's healthy development and how parents can connect with their kids through play, it gives lots of anecdotes and practical ideas. Would he be wiling to read something like that?

AliceinWinterWonderland Wed 19-Feb-14 12:27:36

Urgh. My father was like this. Constantly worrying other people would think the DCs were too noisy. At one point, when he was at my house, he was going on and on about the DCs being noisy in the back garden. "What will the neighbours think??" he finally shouted.

My response? "The neighbours will be thinking thank god my kids are over at Alice's house - listen to the chaos - I'm glad she's dealing with it!" I had to tell him that 1- he needed to relax and 2- he needed to remember my house, my rules. The kids are allowed to have fun and make noise, within reason.

It was an ongoing battle, though.

PBH I've got that book and I love it. Worked wonders for me and I've enjoyed my children more doing things inspired after reading it. DH would love to play but he just feels very uncomfortable and cannot 'let go' enough to do it. It's very strange because he's playful with me and we laugh a lot he just can't relax around the DCs.

cory Wed 19-Feb-14 12:44:39

What I found, rather to my surprise, was that other people (including my own extended family) did not find natural child exuberance anywhere near as stressful as parental nagging and consequent winding up of children. That's why my mother laid my place in the back room in the end: she just thought life would get a lot quieter if I wasn't there to stir things up. And it did. blush

OxfordBags Wed 19-Feb-14 12:47:58

Although I feel sorry for your Dc, I also feel sorry for the child inside your Dh, if that doesn't sound too wanky. Sounds like he only learned how to have fun and be carefree as an adult, hence he can kick back with you, but doesn't seem to be able to understand, evaluate and respect normal child behaviour and fun.

Perhaps he might never be able to be 'fun dad'; leaping about and being silly, and the like, and that's okay, so long as he's not fun-killing dad, if you get me.

It does sound like he could do with learning to play as a child for himself in many ways - does he ever lark about in your own home, being a 'horsey', say, or maybe just getting down and playing lego or doing some colouring? Perhaps if he could just see how happy and sweet and good they are when engrossed in normal childish play, it might be a start to relaxing about this stuff. Perhaps he needs homework, like having to get messy in the garden, or racing round the house pretending to be monsters,and realise that it's not naughty and the world doesn't end!

I wonder if an unconscious part of him isn't actually a bit jealous and resentful that they get to be carefree children. That doesn't make him a nasty person if it does, he just needs to be able to see when 'he's getting in his own way'.

Oxford bags you've hit it bang on. I think he is a bit jealous that his childhood wasn't like that. He does try to be 'horsey' for about 5 minutes then that's it. We need to be quiet now. DS loves lego and DH is getting back into it but he tends to take over. Same with games on the xbox. He takes over. Takes the controller off the kids so he can get onto the next level. It's awful because I don't want to say in front of them and undermine him but I see their little faces going from glowing because Daddy is playing to crestfallen because suddenly playtime is over.

OxfordBags Wed 19-Feb-14 13:21:07

Hmm, I feel less sympathetic towards him now! But I've noticed that kind of behaviour in quite a few dads, nowadays and when I was a kid myself.

Spunds like he sees playing or fun as a means to an end, ie you get five mins of horseplay alloted per day, like cleaning your teeth, or you only play a game to get onto the next level. I bet he hates messy fun, like painting, doesn't he?

Once love, security and all the basics are covered, play is THE most important factor for children (many would argue for everyone, adults too). It's how they learn and make sense of the world, and who they are. The Dc won't develop skills or their imagination if Daddy takes over the Lego, and so on.

It does sound like he needs some counselling. A person doesn't have to be desperately sad or damaged to benefit from it, and, even if he'd never had children, his childhood sounds like one that could do with a bit of mourning for, and healing from.

My friend has a meme as her Fb pic, and it says something like "Don't worry about what other people think of your children, worry about what they think about themselves". I think that's excellent advice, and your DH is sadly getting it all back to front.

AliceinWinterWonderland Wed 19-Feb-14 13:33:28

STBXH is much like this - play must be directed and controlled by him. He wants the DCs to play what HE wants them to play, not what THEY want to play. And he takes over in video games and such. He lacks the ability to let them lead the playtime.

maggiemight Wed 19-Feb-14 13:50:56

I was a bit like this with my DCs but it was because I was concerned what others would think of them (and of course me as their mother) and wanted them to be seen as considerate, respectful to other adults. It was because I had a heavy drinking DF and this embarrassed me as a child so I wanted my family to be admired and respected. So perhaps something similar with your DH.

I would conjure up situations where you are told by someone he respects that your DCs are lovely, great fun, nice company, perhaps tell him their teacher said this, then he might ease off a bit.

And also have a heart to heart, Does he realize he is doing this? and that it prob relates to his childhood, and, could he stop now smile

He doesn't have a father figure to imitate so is possibly trying to do what he thinks is needed. Did he even have siblings, as he seems competitive too.

DIYapprentice Wed 19-Feb-14 19:04:26

It's awful because I don't want to say in front of them and undermine him

Stop right there - you dont' want to undermine him? He's acting like a git to your DC and you don't want to undermine him??????!!!!!!

You should be saying 'Daddy..... give the controller back please, it's THEIR turn. You can play after they are in bed'.

It's not when they're playing together..its when he is playing with them. He sees it as helping. But they end up just sitting there bored.
I was thinking of doing more physical activities with them might help. I think some times they are bored and that if they have something to physically 'do' rather than be restricted to sitting still he might join in more. Any thoughts?

maggiemight Wed 19-Feb-14 20:49:29

Maybe parenting books might help, he sounds pretty clueless.

I think OxfordBags has got it spot on here; your DH needs counselling to deal with the many issues pertaining to his childhood. Those damaging lessons he was taught are basically now being passed on to his children. It will damage them too and the effects of his behaviour on them are already being seen and felt; he's passing on all his neuroses to them.

You cannot play the role of pacifier or referee here either. Doing more stuff with them is alone not going to solve the underlying problems with your H.

I'll choose my moment and broach the subject of counselling. I think you're right. He did go for about 4 sessions but decided it had served it's purpose.

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