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Adoptive dads especially, (or mums!) any advice please?

(6 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Wed 10-Feb-16 03:36:41

Our ds joined our family almost two years ago aged 3, almost 4, and is now about 5 and a half. He has bonded and attached well to me and is very much 'one of the family' and very 'entitled' to whatever is on offer, there is no sense that he feels any less our son than our birth dd (who is now 11) - which is, of course, just how it should be.

However, my husband is feeling rather left out of ds's affections and we both feel frustrated that ds is not so close to dh as he is to me.

My husband is the most amazing man and an amazing dad. He does lots with the kids, very practical and very hard working. He is not someone who is always at the office and he does cooking and laundry etc, with me, all the stuff t home that I do!

Both dh and I find 'play' with the kids difficult, and ds is not one for a lot of 'free play'. Our dd is brilliant at free play so does that with ds, e.g. making a beach out of towels in the garden!

So dh and I do stuff with kids like board games, which are fine until it all ends in tears when ds loses or can't get some 'bit' of the game to work!

My husband is quite quiet, not terribly chatty and not very tactile, so I do understand why the kids find it easier to come to me for cuddles and things. I am quite plump and dh is very slim, they say 'Daddy is so boney!' Sometimes they say he is grumpy or shouty, but in reality I am MUCH MORE shouty than he is!

I have tried to say that bath times with me are practical for hair wash etc, with daddy running and supervising the bath they are more fun. I want them to see the fun in daddy and is much better at sports, bike rides etc and when we go to soft play places he can actually fit down the tube slide, which I cannot!!!

My dh is having to look after the kids a lot more (maybe one after noon a week or one whole day a week, without me) at the moment because my mum is very ill and I am needing to go and see her a lot. I am hoping just day to day life more with dh 'in charge' will help to address the imbalance but I wonder if anyone can share any tips.

We have a meeting with post adoption support this month (to address the fact ds is so emotional and easily upset and to try and help him to control his emotions more) and so I can the support workers to try to address this issue. But I know mumsnet has a lot of wise people and I would love advice and especially success stories!

Just so you know I had almost exactly a year off work with ds and then he started school, dh works full time and I am at work when the kids are school most days but I pick up, I often make tea etc and am around. DS always chooses me for story time or bath (if given a choice, not always given a choice as usually it is dh's 'job' to do bath and bed routine on work days).

DH always did dd's bath routine on work days and mostly does story for her even though she is 11 and dd loves story with dad more than with me! So I know dh is great at all this and I feel sorry for him that ds is quite dismissive of daddy!

Italiangreyhound Wed 10-Feb-16 03:37:08

Thank you in advance.

MrsH1989 Wed 10-Feb-16 07:11:26

My DH has always had this problem with our birth ds. It upsets him to the extent that he has said he wants shared parental leave when we adopt. A few things that help are one to one time doing things like swimming. Also, having daddy alone at bathtime to play in the bath seems to help. They always sound like they are having fun.
Sorry I don't have more advice. Sure someone else will be able to help smile

Threesocksnohairbrush Wed 10-Feb-16 10:35:13

Deep breath. brewcake. And very sorry to hear that your mum is so unwell. I do hope things improve soon.

We had this the other way round which I think is more usual. DS was all for Daddy and for a long time, pushed me away at every available opportunity. We have 50/50 care (I mean we both work part time, never sure how to say that without implying we are separated!) so it wasn't about time spent. DD when she first came latched onto me and rejected Daddy - in fact if the poor man went in to her at 2am there would be a howl of NOOOO ... MUMMEEE!

Both of them are now quite Daddy focused but in a much more balanced way, because Daddy works a bit more and is frankly the more fun parent with playing, being silly etc!

I think it is very hard for small people who have had disrupted attachments to make one solid relationship in the early days, never mind two. Stuff that worked for us is:

Operation of time and patience (sorry!)

If you're the favoured party, support the other one and help them not to take it personally. It is terribly hard not to but it almost certainly isn't about them.

Don't let the child's early preferences descend into playing you off against one another. It's worth, as the favoured parent, deliberately bringing the other one into play - say eg 'we are going to do this with Mummy because I like Mummy'. Be clear and very explicit in letting the kids see how much YOU like the other party. Lots of hugs, support, positive comments etc. Back the unfavoured party to the hilt over matters of discipline in public whatever you say in private

Sometimes whatever the kids want, they will get Daddy and that's the way it is. Might be worth just alternating bath nights and not offering a choice for now. You trust Daddy to care for him and you know they will have a great time.

Theraplay really helped my relationship with DS when he was 5/6, so you might want to discuss this with the post adoption workers. We had about six months worth and they quite rapidly ejected DH and just worked with DS and me. It made a big difference.

Hope that helps and best of luck!

MyDogEatsBalloons Wed 10-Feb-16 11:50:27

Threesocks has great advice, which I entirely agree with.

Our DD is six, and has been home about a year and a half now. She definitely has a preference for me, but it's kind of understandable as she sees so much more of me. She hadn't really had much of a positive male role model around before either (FC a very female household!).

I think it will take a bit more time. Though she's very comfortable with DH, I'm a bit more fun. We do have a routine where he has breakfast with her every day while I'm in the shower, they go for a jog (this is hilarious - she's dreadful) at the weekend, and sometimes to the library alone. He does bedtime preparations, and we alternate bedtime story reading. They also do Lego and drawing together.

Could you make it so you have a time where you have your daughter for something special, and your husband has your son? baking while they go to the park, or one does a craft while the the other goes shopping?

I'd agree not to let him see you argue, and try not to put him down or be bossy to DH at all (I've had to work really hard at this - once DD told DH "I don't have to listen to you - Mummy's in charge!").

I think your HB doing day to day stuff will be a huge help. Hope your Mum is on the mend. flowers

Italiangreyhound Wed 10-Feb-16 23:21:40

Thanks all, that is so helpful.

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