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The kids don't like DH.

(46 Posts)
plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 09:18:22

DH is lovely but quite grumpy at the moment and doesn't put up with any nonsense. He is also sometimes a bit rough with the kids - not violent or anything but gets them dressed too quickly, or picks them up and dumps them in the bath rather than persuading them to get in, for example.

I'm a SAHM and much softer on them - partly, I confess, because I can't hack it when everyone's yelling but mostly because I think it's nicer to make things fun than just impose my will on them.

DH works quite long hours so doesn't see much of them during the week but never works weekends so sees a lot of them then.

Last night DD1 (4y) asked if daddy was working late and when I said he was she cheered and said 'yaay! We don't have to see daddy! I hate daddy!' sad I told her off for saying she hates him and she was quite remorseful afterwards, but I know they would both always rather be with me and it makes me really sad.

I appreciate 4y olds bandy words about all over the place so I'm not too worried about the hating thing but does anyone have any experience of this? Is there a way I can get them to be closer? I know DH would be upset if he heard DD1 say she hates him. He is good at reading stories and teaching them things if you see what I mean but I want them to be friends!

Piecesofmyheart Wed 06-Feb-13 09:23:28

He might be upset but he needs to know the effect his behaviour is having on them. Its quite worrying to hear you talk about him man handling them into a bath. I would suggest a serious chat and some research into local parenting classes.

pictish Wed 06-Feb-13 09:25:48

Out of the mouths of babes eh?

look - your dh's conduct is impacting on them...and who can blame them....rought treatment is instinctively not enjoyable.

I have some experience of grumpy. Grump seldom goes hand in hand with lovely.

you should tell him.

and i don't see why your dd should feel guilty about the way she feels about him. sounds quite justified! although i'm sure she doesn't actually hate him.

but he does need to stop the rough treatment. it's not good.

plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 09:31:34

Ok I clearly need to have a talk with him.

I don't expect DD to feel guilty about how she feels by the way - I told her off because we've been having a lot of 'hating' people lately and I want her to know what a strong word it is. And it wasn't a shouty telling off but an explainy one. But I probably should've said that before.

pictish Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:46

Bet he won't want to hear it.
He will say it's OP's fault. That they feel that way because she is too soft. It will be swiftly turned around so she is responsible for the kids rightful displeasure with their dad.

I should think she's already made her feelings known before, and been handed her arse as a result.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 06-Feb-13 09:36:44

Sounds like you need to meet in the middle. Neither approach is the right one. 'Making things fun' and thinking that 'explainy' is the same as being told off can very easily mean you end up with spoilt brats who will find anyone else who tries to impose any authority - and I include teachers in that - offensive. So you have to find a middle ground between you.

pictish Wed 06-Feb-13 09:37:25

Also true.

GreatUncleEddie Wed 06-Feb-13 09:41:56

It's pretty normal for blokes to have a more "businesslike" method of dealing with them. We like to think we are right, of course. But maybe we pander a bit too much sometimes. Very normal for the kids to feel like this when they are young, IMO. It changes when they get older, often. And I think it happens in most families. Not all, but most.

PoppyWearer Wed 06-Feb-13 09:47:32

My DH is also seldom around during the week and definitely stricter with the DCs than I am, so have had a few of the issues you describe, OP.

My 4yo also sometimes says she doesn't want Daddy. But when it comes to the crunch, she will still go to him at night (I am often looking after her younger brother in the night) and does still ask him for bedtime stories on the rare occasions he gets home in time.

Yes, you do need to say something. I have mentioned it to my DH a few times, just asking him to be kinder to the DCs (and to me). He has a high-pressure job where he needs to be firm and also angry when needed to get stuff done, but I remind him when needed that it's ok to revert to being the softie/silly daddy he is underneath when he's at home.

I agree with what Cogito said about needing to meet in the middle and be stricter too, but I know it's difficult when you are one parent most of the week.

plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 09:53:21

Thanks for the advice.

I'm happy that I don't have a problem being strict when necessary - well, perhaps I could be a bit stricter but I'm not a pushover - I just think sometimes an explainy telling -off such as gravely asking what exactly 'hate' means - is the more appropriate response.

But yes I think we do need to meet in the middle a bit.

OxfordBags Wed 06-Feb-13 09:56:02

Children need to be able to say they hate people, even their ownparents. Especially,perhaps, their own parents. It's not nice to hear, but it's not about a child being mean-spirited, it's purely just about expressing negative feelings they can't express anyother way. Children are allowed to use strong words, you know. They have powerful emotions, so it's not fair to deny them the use of powerful words. They can't always be nice; you come across as someone for whom things being nice all the time is v important (nothing wrong with that, but it's not possible). I suspect, however, that might not be so important if your OH was nicer himself.

If I was 4, I'd hate someone who was rough with me like that. It's not only physically unpleasant, it's scary, threatening, makes you feel naughty when you're doing nothing wrong, makes you feel like you're some annoying process the parent has to get over and dne withinstead of being a person and above all, it totally negates the fact that the child is a person too, with rights and feelings. How would HE feel if a giant barged into your bathroom, grabbed him and plonked him in the bath, because he deemed your OH was taking too long to get in? It's so humiliating.

It's also unfair that Daddy gets to be so grumpy and brusque but the DC are not even allowed to use 'strong' words. The hypocrisy is awful and will create more and more resentment in them. This tells them that men/adults are allowed to be as horrid as they like but they must deny their own feelings. Not great and especially not great for shaping their future. He really, really needs to sort it out. I bet he's not like this with anyone else. He's using his own children to vent his anger, or as an arena where he permits himself to wallow and indulge in his anger. It's abusive. It might be low-level abuse, but it is totally unacceptable behaviour.

The way to make them closer is for him to drastically change his behaviour and approach and to make amends. It is not for the children to change to accept this unacceptable behaviour. That'll just teach DD, in particular, to be a potential future abuse victim. All the change has to come from him; when he stops being hateful, they will stop hating him. It's as simple and as hard as that.

BTW, I think your explainy approach is far better than his.

Cocolollip Wed 06-Feb-13 10:10:31

Absolutely agree with everything OxfordBags said.. Brilliant post and great advice.

Children learn from their elders, DD is feeling threatened and rejected and that's why she's having negative feelings towards her father.
This is easily rectifiable though.

I strongly agree you need to have a chat with your DH.

Good luck x

babyhammock Wed 06-Feb-13 10:44:19

Another one who thought Oxfordbags post was spot on. Children are humans just like everyone else but quite a few adults seem to think it is perfectly ok to speak and treat them in a quite frankly disrespectful nasty way and expect everything to be absolutely fine.

If I was treated like that I'd be understandably very relieved said person was working late.

Plantsitter you sound lovely by the way smile

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 06-Feb-13 11:24:28

Loved OxfordBags' post too.

When I was 4 or 5, I remember telling my mother that I didn't like my father. When I was 11, I remember telling my uncle that my father was "useless". Both times, the adults I was confiding in made me feel that I was a bad person for saying these things.

20+ years on and many abusive relationships later, I have come to recognise that my child self spoke the truth, and deserved to have her feelings heard and respected.

Don't invalidate what your DD is telling you.

Children adore their parents, and for a pre-teen child to express negative feelings about a parent means that there is a big emotional struggle happening within her.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 12:48:22

Totally, 100% agree with OxfordBags.

Also, there is a huge difference between being strict, which means you stick to your guns and set clear boundaries, and being rough and unpleasant. You can be very strict while still being totally good-natured and never uttering a harsh word or using physical force. Someone being small or young is no reason to think you can disrespect them or push them around. And, to refer to Eddie's post, excusing nasty behaviour because the perpetrator is a man makes absolutely no sense. If a dad isn't very good at managing behaviour because he doesn't see the children much then he needs to learn and improve, not just carry on being a bully and expect everyone to put up with it. Plenty of dads, including my own DH, manage to be kind, gentle and strict. I have never seen my DH be anything even approaching rough with my DS and I wouldn't tolerate it if I did.

OP I can understand your reaction to the word "hate" but it doesn't make sense to tell someone off for how they feel - it's not up to you to dictate how your children react to things. If she had said "Daddy is horrible" or something like that, that would deserve a telling off because she is criticising someone else in a nasty way, but saying she hates him, while extreme, is how she feels and isn't open to negotiation. It is worth having a talk about the word "hate" and how strong it is, but I don't agree with telling her off, as expressing feelings isn't wrong or naughty. It would be more worthwhile exploring why she uses the word "hate" especially in relation to her father.

plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 13:20:03

Some sensible advice - thank you, especially you Oxford Bags.

I think I will have a chat with DD1 next time this comes up. I probably had a reaction to the word 'hate' and although I do think she needs to understand what a strong word it is, I certainly don't think she shouldn't use it but I would rather she understood exactly what she was saying. However I do need to listen to her feelings too.

Will be easier to talk to DH too if I can quote DD - without saying she hates him but explaining exactly how she feels.

I actually feel a bit disloyal for starting this thread so I'm going to take the very useful advice given and go away and think about it now. And I will be taking action.

Thanks again.

Dryjuice25 Wed 06-Feb-13 13:24:31

Oxfordbags speaks the truth

gottasmile Wed 06-Feb-13 13:44:45

I really would take that advice. I hope your DH will take it on board.

Hotdamn, (just to hijack a little) I'd love to know what you advise in this situation.

My ds doesn't like his dad and never wants him to come on outings with us. He used to be a bit like op's dh. He's just turned 9 and dh has been a lot better for about 3 years, but I don't think he's ever forgotten.

Now dh tries really hard with ds but ds doesn't want to know. He avoids him and barely acknowledges him.

It's so sad and I put ds into therapy and dh was supposed to give him 10 minutes of attention every day, but it didn't last long. I have a feeling it was too little too late anyway.

Some wise words would be welcomed, even though I know it's a very complex problem.

Sorry again for the hijack.

gottasmile Wed 06-Feb-13 13:46:42

Sorry, I should have said Hotdamn and Oxfordbags and others!

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 06-Feb-13 14:07:53

Are you asking for advice on how to improve the relationship between your DS and your DH? The answer to that lies in your DH's behaviour, and in his core beliefs (which will be translated in his behaviour). You say DH hasn't followed through on a commitment to give your DS 10 minutes (!) of attention every day. That says a lot about what his core beliefs are vis a vis the respect he should give his son. Your son is no fool and can sense that very well.

If you are asking for advice on how to validate your DS's feelings, then it's a question of asking him open questions and listening to his answers, making it clear that he is entitled to feel the way he feels, that you hear him when he says he is angry, hurt, etc, and that you are sorry that he is angry, hurt, etc.

gottasmile Fri 08-Feb-13 12:55:53

Thank you, Hotdamnlifeisgood.

I think deep down I know this, sometimes it makes me so sad that he can't be bothered. I get really angry with dh sometimes, I do blame him.

I will take on board your advice regarding ds's feelings. He really does have a right to fob him off. I'm just so sad for our family and wish it could be different.

OP I hope you've manged to have a good talk to your dh. I would hate for any other child to have such a difficult relationship with their father. It won't be a happy situation if you let it continue... I speak from experience unfortunately.

HeyHoHereWeGo Fri 08-Feb-13 14:24:51

OP why do you keep insisting that your daughter doesn't really hate her father?

Why do you insist it is just her lack of understanding of the word?

She told you she hates Daddy.
Because she hates Daddy.
Not all the time, of course, and yes she still loves him AS WELL.
But does she hate him?
When hes mean and rough and cross and does mean things to her?
Bloody hell of course she does.
Shes right to.
Dont tell your husband when it next comes up!
Tell him the next time he walks through the door.
Its his life - if he blames his work then he can cut down his hours, if he blames you DO NOT SUGGEST COMPROMISE - you DO NOT need to be stricter - thats bullshit.
Children all over the world are the same - getting ready for a bath involves running round chasing each other laughing, throwing in the bath toys talking over each other, generally having fun.
If your approach is gently moving the fun in a forward direction until they end up in the bath - then you are RIGHT
If his approach is to expect them to line up like cadets, strip off quietly and get in - then he is WRONG

plantsitter Fri 08-Feb-13 18:02:27

I don't keep insisting she doesn't. I think she does need to understand what it means to say she hates someone - and if she does, fine. I have already said I probably had a reaction to the word hate and could've handled it better.

And well done for finding the universal world-wide best way to get children into the bath.

I had a chat to DD about it and she explained why she sometimes doesn't like daddy. And then I had a very productive chat with DH who has asked me to tell him when I think he's being too grumpy or rough when it happens, even if it feels like undermining him.

We have quite different approaches to parenting but I think that can be a good thing. I need to be clearer about what we shouldn't compromise on.

Thank you for the good advice; it has helped clarify what I felt in the first place.

pictish Fri 08-Feb-13 18:07:32

Oooh clever daddy, making mummy take responsibility for daddy's behaviour by having her agree to police it for him as if he were a child himself.
Of course, you know it's all empty words, and he will just shout you down when you try, don't you?

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Fri 08-Feb-13 18:19:28

I had to have a similar chat with my oh about a week ago. It resulted in his tears. :0(
Long and short of it he was shattered, so I've tried to organise life a bit better to get to bed at a reasonable hour & he's made a real effort to play more, fob off less and ask not tell a bit more. It's made a massive improvement.

plantsitter Fri 08-Feb-13 18:22:33

Pictish - let's assume that what you seem to think is happening in my family really is happening (unless you are expressing yourself very badly, you are wrong).

Being sarcastic, making me feel stupid for how I have tried to deal with the situation, and claiming to know exactly what will happen next does not help me even a tiny little bit.

Can'tbelieve - thanks for that. Hope things continue to improve.

"I had a chat to DD about it and she explained why she sometimes doesn't like daddy. And then I had a very productive chat with DH who has asked me to tell him when I think he's being too grumpy or rough when it happens, even if it feels like undermining him".

I think you need to re-read the post that OxfordBags wrote.

He's boxing clever here; he's also now getting you to take full responsibility for his actions. He will likely shout you down or accuse you of nagging if you try and police him, its not a long term solution at all.

Presumably his own parents did the same sort of behaviour to him as well; if this is the case it cannot be unlearnt very easily if at all because this to him is "normal". He probably thinks you're far too soft with the children as well.

Also why should you have to police a fellow adult like this; you after all are not responsible for his actions. He is.

No wonder your children cannot stand him; children are perceptive and know more than you perhaps realise or care to admit. I do not like the sound of him either. He is a very poor role model to your children.

pictish Fri 08-Feb-13 18:26:40

My apologies - I did not intend to make you feel stupid.

My sarcasm was directed at your h who is a grown man, and really should not expect another adult to point out he is being too rough with the kids.

pictish Fri 08-Feb-13 18:27:34

As if he didn't already know.

pictish Fri 08-Feb-13 18:29:31

But nice going on the whole absolving himself of responsibility stakes.
<thumbs up>

MidnightMasquerader Fri 08-Feb-13 18:43:12

plant - it's really great that he didn't go on the defensive, but instead was open to the conversation and responsive. That bodes well.

Maybe you need to agree on a way to signal to him when he is heading down the wrong track a). so that it doesn't look like mixed signals in front of the kids, and b). so that he sees he is in the wrong and doesn't flare/grump up defensively and make it worse.

I hope you don't feel stupid - you're handling this well. If you're anything like me, you hate confrontation, so something like this is just generally unpleasant for everyone concerned (tho especially your DD who's the priority). smile

MidnightMasquerader Fri 08-Feb-13 18:46:52

But I do agree fundamentally with the others - he needs to take some responsibility for changing his behaviour as well; not just leaving it for you too fix him.

Maybe try his approach - and if he does flare up (which I suspect he will, hence my previous post), then agree that perhaps this wasn't the best tactic, and now it's time for him to look at ways of modifying his behaviour and approach?

fluffyraggies Fri 08-Feb-13 18:52:41

OP, BMN (Before MumsNet grin ) i would have taken what your DH said as perfectly reasonable. A step forward. Then i would have struggled with the reality of it - how to tell him, when to tell him, where to tell him. Whether to bring it up again at all because there never seems to be a good time.

It's true, you shouldn't be put in the position of having to tell him when he's doing wrong. It'll drive a wedge between you.

I suggest another chat. Try and explain why it's going to be his responsibility, not yours.

plantsitter Fri 08-Feb-13 19:02:20

Look - I can feel myself getting on the defensive here, because I don't think I have really said enough about DH, his behaviour or the details of our conversation for people to make judgments about whether or not they like him or just to slag him off. However I suppose I have to accept the idea that he's put the responsibility for his behaviour on to me.

I don't think he will react badly when I tell him he's being a cock. If he does I will have a rethink. For now I am reasonably happy with how our conversation went and I'm not sure what else I can or ought to do about the situation.

I'm off now; Thanks for the advice.

Springdiva Fri 08-Feb-13 19:25:13

I was wondering if DD should have been told to 'tell Daddy when he is being rough' rather than DM being the messenger.

I would have said that to my DCs, but would also have said to DH (on his own) that Dcs complained that he is being too rough.

Being the go between for DCs and DH seems wrong.

GreatUncleEddie Fri 08-Feb-13 19:28:07

Op - I don't understand why people are being like this. It sounds as though you have had a productive talk that will help.

Springdiva Fri 08-Feb-13 19:40:48

Yes, productive talk has, no doubt, fixed things.......... however, I don't understand why OP's DH can't see or notice that the DCs are flinching or looking upset or are v quiet at bathtime. He must be v self-obsessed to not notice these things imv.

Wingdingdong Fri 08-Feb-13 19:53:30

OP, I agree with Eddie above. Sounds as though others are projecting their own experiences. Also sounds like your DH is like many men I know - hard-working, bit stressed, tired, not necessarily the best at picking up emotions, not totally understanding of young children. He's asked for help, so help him - but maybe a better way would be by giving him strategies to defuse the situation rather than by telling him he's going OTT in front of the kids.

FWIW I have 3.5yo DD and 11m DS, by bath time they're both a bit hyper and I'm dreaming about gin a nice cup of tea. If I tell DD I'm going to throw her in the bath with all her clothes on, she squeals, undresses instantly and then I swing her in with a 1-2-3. Basically I also dump her unceremoniously in the tub, but she enjoys the experience and asks me to throw her in if I'm taking too long to threaten it! Maybe suggest your DH can enter into the spirit and "throw" her in instead of manhandling her, etc? Ask him what he finds to be difficult moments and tell him how you cope with those.

Not that I've found all the solutions myself... And I can be pretty tired and grumpy too, especially when DD has wet the bed twice and DS has vomited three times the night before...

Oh - and ask DD what she likes doing with DH, or what she would like DH to do with her.

Finally, the word 'hate'. My DD has said she 'hates' Daddy. Reasons so far include 'he didn't let me have any chocolate before breakfast', 'he's still at work and he went to work yesterday too' and 'because I want mummy to read me a story'. She has no good reason whatsoever. I just say that it's not very nice to hate anyone and her daddy loves her very much, and she giggles... She does tell him she loves him as well though.

Has plantsitter's DH truly accepted any responsibility for his actions towards his children and by turn his wife?. Only the OP can decide that but I would say that words are cheap, its actions that count. Time will tell.

Putting the onus on his wife to tell him when he is crossing a line is not on at all, that absolves him of responsibility for his actions within the home. Where's his self control?. I cannot imagine that such an individual would take kindly to being told and would perhaps instead accuse his wife of nagging him.

Winddingdong, yours sounds like a happy home and your DD is secure because she also says that although she "hates" her dad for not giving her chocolate she loves him as well. OPs DD on the other hand is saying that she'd rather be with her mother; children do not say such things either to wind up the parent or for no good reason.

Mumsyblouse Fri 08-Feb-13 21:12:01

I'm sorry, I disagree with that last point, saying you 'hate' one parent is extremely common I've found from age 2/3 onwards, as is showing a real preference for one over the other, sometimes the 'fun' parent, or the one who is out all day who is then adored above all other, sometimes the mum/dad who is always there. I don't think a insecure frightened cowed child would exclaim 'hooray, I hate Daddy, I want mummy to take me to bed' or whatever, they would be far too worried about the consequences.

I'm not saying this is happening here at all, I really don't know enough of the situation, I know I am grumpy and tired and overworked myself, and sometimes that comes out at the children in my short temper/snapping a bit/issuing commands rather than doing hilarious fun bed-times or preparing for the school run.

If I am too awful, my husband does point it out. I also try to notice myself, and try to be a bit nicer all round, but it is a massive effort when you are working/doing lots of childcare/all round exhausted. I do see it as my own responsibility though, and wouldn't expect my husband to police me, more that if I am truly losing it (say once every few months) he might tell me this straight.

ClippedPhoenix Fri 08-Feb-13 21:18:34

I personally don't like him either.

Gingerandcocoa Fri 08-Feb-13 21:50:58

As a daughter of a father who worked long hours and who did not seem to take much interest in showing love and affection to me, I can say this has deeply affected my life. I have had trouble believing in myself particularly when it comes to men, and unfortunately this insecurity has led me to some bad relationships.

My father sadly passed away when I was 10, and I have to tell you that to this date I am not sure he ever loved me.

I hope you find a way to get through to your DH, so he can change how he acts towards to DC while there is still time to undo the harm and hurt done. Rejection is very, very hurtful for little children and stays with them forever.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 06:30:32

Also really agree with Oxfordbags et al.
I am struggling with why your DD has to know how strong and negative hate is without also worrying which vocabulary would be acceptable to you and whether your DD has it and is emotionally equipped to differentiate it from hate. It does seem that you are worrying about making her responsible for being 'grown-uply-polite' whilst not getting The Big Picture

plantsitter Sat 09-Feb-13 08:38:21

Yes, I have said I handled it badly a couple of times up thread.

Luckily I know DD very well so I am not worried about her vocabulary and I know she would always take the dramatic option if possible. I take your point about being emotionally equipped to differentiate feelings but, as I have said a few times, I probably reacted to the word when she said it.

She has said she hates me loads of times when I won't let her have another slice of chocolate cake, for example. It was me that attributed her 'hatred' to the fact that DH is grumpy and a bit rough. I subsequently chatted to her about exactly what she meant.

However I would probably handle it differently if I had to do it again. I do get the big picture.

By the way, I do think it's important she knows what a strong word 'hate' is. But perhaps a time like this wasn't the best time to go into it.

All a learning curve this parenting stuff, eh? Just doing my best.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 11:49:28

I'm sorry I was overly negative. When it comes to the Relationships section we're on your side.

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