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DP admits he prefers DS1 to DS2

(24 Posts)
birdynumnums Mon 24-Sep-12 23:06:06

This is an ongoing issue. DS1 was born, he is an easy baby. Sleeps through the night by 6 weeks old. DP adores him. 2 years later DS2 come along unplanned. DP is shocked but seems ok. DS2 cries for literally 20 hours every day. Eventually after some research on my part, at five months old he is diagnosed with silent reflux. By 6 months he starts to improve and now aged 2.1 he is a lovely, happy little boy.

However, DP has not bonded with him. When he was a baby and I was desperately trying to rock him to sleep, I used to beg him to take over and he would try only to get frustrated with him so I would end up taking DS2 off him after 15 minutes. It was an awful time. Literally if he wasn't crying, we would think something awful had happened to him so we never slept. Still, I feel resentful of how unsupportive he was at this time.

2 years on, I can see the difference in how he loves our children so clearly. He is interested in DS1, looks forward to seeing him after work, talks to him, plays with him. DS2 is admittedly a whingy child, always into something he shouldn't be but he is so loving and adorable and it breaks my heart to see his dad's lack of interest in him. On the day DS1 started school, he phoned at 9:30 to ask how he got on. When DS2 started playgroup last week, he phoned at lunch time to ask about dinner and I had to prompt him to ask how it had gone.

Tonight, I have had a word with him (not the first time)because DS2 got all excited when he heard his dad's car pull up at 5pm today shouting 'daddy' repeatedly. DP just walked straight past him. DP got upset when I told him but admitted when he comes home his first reaction is to say hello to DS1. He says when he hears DS2 cry, he thinks about those terrible early days when he was poorly. He says he loves him and does not want to create issues when DS2 is older but he can't help it. He says if he can't sort out his feelings, he will make sure Ds2 will never realise. What on earth do I do here? I am worried this is going to harm my lovely little boy in the future

BlueSkySinking Mon 24-Sep-12 23:09:08

I think you need to send DS2 and his Dad away for some bonding time alone. Can they have a weekly special activity they do together? Swimming etc? Or even go away camping together? Have lots of fun and attention. You could have fun with DS1 at the same time.

amillionyears Mon 24-Sep-12 23:12:36

Agree with BlueSky.Your dp may have got away with it up to now,but your DS2 and even DS1 are going to notice and make comments soon.

BonnieBumble Mon 24-Sep-12 23:13:06

That is heart breaking for you and your son and could lead to potential relationship problems with the boys.

Show him this thread and ask him how he would feel if he was ds2.

Encourage him to spend time with ds2 alone, get them to go somewhere fun together like a farm or zoo.

I hope it works out. I have seen how destructive it can be when a parent favours one child.

Nanny0gg Mon 24-Sep-12 23:16:04

He says if he can't sort out his feelings, he will make sure Ds2 will never realise.
If he's walking past him to see DS1, believe me, DS2 has ^already' noticed.

He needs to get his act together pronto.

MsOnatopp Mon 24-Sep-12 23:20:26

I think your DP may need counselling to sort out his feeling about DS2.

It must be hard for him if he does have all these negative emotions connected to your DS.

However, that does not excuse him. He needs to try and sort this out for your DS's sake.

waterlego Mon 24-Sep-12 23:23:23

Awwww OP. I feel for you, for your DS and for your DP too. I's sad but
I can see how/why it has happened so I hope your DP won't beat himself up too much over it. But he does need to address his feelings and try to change things. Agree that the easiest/most obvious way to do this will be for them to spend more time together, but it needs to be a fairly regular thing rather than a one-off, I think. At first, it may well be uncomfortable for your DP but it's surely a way to help him 'grow' his feelings for DS2 in the long run.

It may be that your DP's feelings will naturally grow as DS2 gets bigger and more conversational, interactive etc. and as the memory of those difficult early times fades a bit. In the meantime, he needs to take some positive action. Isn't there a saying that goes something like, 'if you can't make it, fake it'? ie, your DP may need to force himself to show affection, smile, enjoy DS2's company until such time as it comes more instinctively.

Perhaps this issue is more common for Dads but, as a mother, I have had similar difficulties in difference of feeling towards my DCs. I think I've mostly done a good job of concealing it but I have also worked very hard at changing and growing my feelings and it is working.

All the best to you all.

Inneedofbrandy Mon 24-Sep-12 23:25:30

If they do something that's just the 2 of them would that not create another issue of ds1 and ds2? I do think they need time alone but going to the zoo won't fix it.

What about you and dh alternate Saturday afternoons for example and boys so you both get 1 on 1?

DameKewcumber Mon 24-Sep-12 23:28:31

If adopters can bond with children who are not genetically theirs at an older age then your DH can bond with your DS2. He just has to be grown up about it and tackle the problem sensibly, its nonsense that it can't be resolved. My DS screamed on sight when he first saw me and pretty much didn't stop for an hour - I know how difficult it is to bond with a child who you didn't give birth to when they scream at you. But he is an adult and can apply his intellect to the problem.

Your DS2 deserves better than your DH faking it - he deserves that his father actually tries to sort it.

This might give you both ideas www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0000/1063/Strengtheningthebond.pdf

Your DH needs to accept that you don;t give up on parenting when its tough - you work harder.

KitchenandJumble Mon 24-Sep-12 23:34:54

Please do whatever you can to help your DP get this sorted now. I agree that some time alone with DS2 would probably be helpful for both of them. Don't let your DP off the hook, and don't let him use the excuse of "I can't help it" or "He'll never notice." He absolutely can help it, and he owes it to his son to bond with him. Believe me, the child will notice if this situation continues. And it will be incredibly detrimental to this little boy's emotional development if your DP doesn't get a handle on this ASAP.

If special time together doesn't seem to do the trick, maybe counselling will be needed. But please don't wait. It's so important to establish those loving relationships early on. I wish you the very best.

DameKewcumber Mon 24-Sep-12 23:38:29

It's not just time together (though that helps) read the leaflet - its lots of eye contact and physical contact.

birdynumnums Mon 24-Sep-12 23:47:19

Yes I think something needs to be done now. Every now and then, he has gleefully announced that his issues are all fine and DS2 is loved equally to DS1 so I think it's going to be ok but after 2 years and this coming up gain and again, it isn't normal is it?

Maybe some of the issues are down to me. I get really aggravated at DP going on about hard it was in the early days, I just turn away because it was me that was all up night rocking him - he just lay awake because he couldn't sleep.

Ds1 is also being assessed for learning difficulties/autism at the moment which Dp is totally in denial about.

DameKewcumber Mon 24-Sep-12 23:49:34

No the issues are not down to you. It is understandable that he found it hard to bond in teh circumstances. But he is an adult and take responsibility for what he does about it now. Its hardly insurmountable, ask any adoptive parent - and he has huge natural advantages already!

amillionyears Mon 24-Sep-12 23:55:54

If DP says that at the moment he cant help it,then visually as far as DS1 and DS2 are concerned,he needs to act very slighty in favour of DS2.
Then that should compensate for any unintended bias that may happen in his behaviour towards DS1.

TidyGOLDDancer Tue 25-Sep-12 00:01:47

Oh gosh, while this totally isn't your fault, please make sure this gets figured out. I don't want to pile on the shit, but I was very much the pushed aside child when we were growing up (my father, not my mum, who was/is brilliant) and believe me I felt it and knew it and still do.

SonnySpain Tue 25-Sep-12 00:26:54

Have you considered male PND? I have a friend who experienced this with her DH. I had mild PND with DS 2 and can relate to everything he says. ( DS2 is 6 now and I am actually closer to him than DS1 and DS3 because we have similar character traits) encourage your DH to see his GP.

HyvaPaiva Tue 25-Sep-12 08:48:33

This article is today's Daily Mail gives a father's perspective on 'preferring' one child. It just seems so damaging. Your DH wants to hide it (if not resolved) and the guy in the Mail readily admits it. Neither way can work. The guy in the article basically says everyone feels this and there should be sympathy towards parents feeling this. I don't agree with that: admission and denial are both very risky in this scenario. Neither faces up resolution, I hope your DH finds it. I think the way to go is more one-to-one time in your whole family (so that DS1 doesn't feel left out either IYSWIM) so that your relationships are all reinforced and refocused, like a fresh start. Obviously this would really be for DH and DS2 but no harm in everyone 'relearning' each other ...I'm wording this really poorly, but I hope it's a helpful idea for you. I'm sorry this is happening, you sound like a lovely mum. The way you describe your child is very touching. I hope this gets resolved for you.

DeWe Tue 25-Sep-12 09:32:44

The phoning to ask how school/preschool went, on it's own, I think is a little bit of pfb into the big wide world- but preschool we know is lovely because pfb went there, and ds2 will be very happy there... Also to me school is a bigger step, so to me that wouldn't worry me.

Some people do find it easier to play/relate to an older child. So it's not so much of prefering one child, but prefering one child's age, if that makes sense.

BUT if he's aware that he's feeling this way, but still doing things that are noticable then he needs to accept he needs help. He obviously hadn't thought going to ds1 first was an issue until you pulled him up on it, which to me is very worrying.

Could you find a few things they could go to together (obviously you give ds1 a treat with you at the same time)? Make sure ds2 is well fed, something he enjoys and not for too long, so they come back saying they wish they'd done more rather than less.

You could also point out that being the "favoured one" doesn't always do them any good in the long term. My dm taught identical twins. One was good mannered, worked hard and was going to achieve well, loving, very popular... the other was rude, never did any work if she could help, and was going to struggle (by the time dm taught her) to achieve a smattering af D/E at GCSE, and had, by her behaviour alienated a lot of her form.
At parents' evening the parents arrived and spent the whole time raving about the latter twin. When dm said that the other twin was going to achieve better they just told her that she'd mixed them up.
Dm found out later that if the first twin won/achieved something they usually told the second twin it was her shock You could see it in their faces too-the favoured twin looked discontented and angry, the other one was a normal cheerful school girl. Very sad.

Flobbadobs Tue 25-Sep-12 10:39:30

Spending some 121 time can work, I've seen it happen. When DS was born DH was, frankly an utter arse and completely uninterested for ages. DS had colic every night then when that went he got croup intermittently for years and DH did nothing to help out. I almost left him tbh.. When DD1 came along he was very hands on, she was a happy cuddly little thing, always smiling, very little colic although she did get croup quite a lot. He was much better with her for quite a while until it came out, in a row that he preferred her to him. It wasn't one of my finest moments tbf, I told him exactly what he was doing to DS was unfair and he had to change the way he acted with both of the children.
It worked because he saw what was wrong and he took it on himself to change. He made an effort with DS - they started going out together, just the 2 of them, they went to football, out on walks, too see things that DS was interested in (trains) and things improved, slowly but now DS is 12 and they are thick as theives.
We talked about it recently actually, we have 3 now and he doesn't even like to remember how things were, it makes him feel ashamed and he feels that he missed out on a lot with DS. He loves all of them equally, we do things as a family, I do things with them on my own and so does he. We're not perfect, I'm still quite protective of DS, they do butt heads occasionally but thats mainly because DS is his mini me, both stubborn and way too smart for their own good grin

OxfordBags Tue 25-Sep-12 11:43:47

Am sorry, OP, but if you think your children can't tell there's favouritism, then you are deluding yourself. You say DS1 is whingy and into things he shouldn't be - in other words, he is insecure and desperate for the same level of attention as hisolder brother, even if he has to make it negative attention. The fact that your DH walks straight past his second son, who is there so excited to see him, ignoring him in favour of his first son is heartbreaking to read.

As well as it being emotionally damaging, favouritism is also hard on the favoured child, because they feel guilty, feel like they have to be perfect all the time, feel sorry for their sibling(s), and it can stop siblings getting on well because of all the horrible, complicated stress and negative feelings that their parent has placed upon them.

He must get counselling. I applaud him for admitting it, but admitting it and doing nothing is, IMO, worse than not being aboe to see it and doing nothing, because it indicates that he wants to maintain favouring one over the other. Do not sacrifice both your sons' happiness just because an adult is reluctant to face up to difficult things within himself. Parenting is not just about doing the hard slog of daily living, it's dealing with your own inner crap too so you don't mess up your kids.

squoosh Tue 25-Sep-12 11:50:39

He actually walks past one child to get to the Chosen One. Diddums only wants to play with the fun, easygoing child.

My head would be exploding with sorrow and more importantly rage, pure unadulterated rage, on behalf of my poor neglected ds2.

NOT ON.

CinnabarRed Tue 25-Sep-12 12:05:33

* DS2 got all excited when he heard his dad's car pull up at 5pm today shouting 'daddy' repeatedly. DP just walked straight past him.*

This made me cry. So what if you talking to your P made him upset? Not a patch on how he's making DS2 feel.

WhereYouLeftIt Tue 25-Sep-12 12:09:13

" He says he loves him and does not want to create issues when DS2 is older but he can't help it."
Well, he IS creating issues, and now, not when DS2 is older. And he CAN help it. It involves EFFORT and THOUGHT, both of which an adult should be capable of. angry

" He says if he can't sort out his feelings, he will make sure Ds2 will never realise."
And walking straight past him does that, does it? hmm

"Every now and then, he has gleefully announced that his issues are all fine and DS2 is loved equally to DS1 so I think it's going to be ok but after 2 years and this coming up gain and again, it isn't normal is it?"
What is that about, "gleefuly announcing"?

wineandroses Tue 25-Sep-12 12:16:18

Op, your worries about this harming your little boy in the future are well founded. One of my DBs has 2 children: a DS (PFB) and DD. Dnephewhas been the light of DB and SIL's lives for the last 25 years. Dniece, a lovely girl, has known from being tiny that her brother is her parent's favourite. It made her incredibly needy - she would cling on to any family/friend visiting the house. As she's grown up, she has developed her relationship with her parents, but she knows without any doubt who they are happiest to see. She accepts this situation, but throughout her life she has had periods of illness, and various health scares, which have all turned out to be groundless, but which gave her their attention. It was horrible to watch. Years ago, I had a huge row with DB about this. He was telling us the usual tales of DNephew's brilliance, and I got cross and asked why he always did that - why couldn't he talk about his DD for once. It escalated into a massive row. He was in total denial (still is).

Of course, DNephew is a lovely young man too, full of confidence and energy. I wish his sister had half his confidence.

Op, your DH isn't in denial, so he must do something about this. There can be no doubt that he will change the course of his sons' lives and their view of themselves unless he resolves this.

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