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to worry about DH's feelings about DS

(25 Posts)
widdle Thu 13-Feb-14 15:59:10

Just a bit of background � we live overseas so have no other family support, the pregnancy was a surprise although we had talked of having kids one day, dh�s own father was very hands off and uninvolved when DH was a child.

We have an 8 month old son and I can�t help thinking that my DH secretly regrets having him. Just a couple of examples � I had a difficult birth and probably had PND in the early days. DH slept in the spare room for the first couple of weeks and I handled DS all through the night which was very difficult and isolating. In the early days DH would get home from work late so never really saw DS. He is now responsible for bathtime although sometimes he gets home literally as I am putting him in the bath. One weekend I took DS to a park while DH stayed at home and just felt so sad when I saw other families there with their kids while I was there alone. He never suggests that we do anything nice as a family together and constantly says �it�s difficult� or �this is hell�.

In other ways DH is very supportive � he looks after DS1 for a couple of hours at the weekend while I get a break, he makes the dinner while I put DS to bed and does the tidying up. I�m probably am being unreasonable and overthinking things. I have suggested that we do more as a family although we still tend to tagteam a lot. DS really lights up when DH gets home so I know that he loves his daddy. DH is very good with him and I know he tries hard but I wonder if his heart is really in it.

Just want to canvas opinion really. Do other posters DH�s have the same attitude towards their own kids and does it get better when the kids get older?

Being honest, my DH wasn't that great when DS was a baby. Yeah he loved him etc etc but he didn't enjoy him as much as I did. However, the bigger they get they do get more rewarding and interesting (if that is the right word) and so gradually DH got to enjoy him more.

I am sure he does love him and yes it will get better as your DS gets bigger.

fluffyraggies Thu 13-Feb-14 16:13:26

My DH adores our newborn DD.

However my decision to EBF (every 1.5 hours at the mo!) plus the fact that she is right next to my side of the bed in her mosses basket - and therefore it's me who reacts first to her in the night, and it's me she wants 9 times out of 10 (or 10 times out of 10, tbh) is making me unreasonably grumpy with DH. Which is not fair as he cant physically do any more than he is doing for her at the moment.

Sometimes we measure other peoples input in a situation in comparison to our own. Which can give us a skewed view of it. Am i making any sense? It sounds as if your DH is enjoying and loving your DS just fine, OP.

NorwegianBirdhouse Thu 13-Feb-14 16:22:13

TBH I think this is really common. SAHMs in my experience find it hard too but realise it's for keeps and soon adjust with the big demands of DC and get to see their vulnerable and funny sides more than DH so are perhaps more forgiving for all the hard work. I did, but I have to admit it surprised me when DH came home from work and his first action was not to seek out DS. My mum said this is really common and it would change as DS could do more and was able to communicate more with DH. DS is just turning 2 and still DH comes in looking tired and plays with DS but I secretly believe he is looking forward to DS bedtime. So a difference in the sexes?? Don't know, but please don't worry. Sounds quite normal to me.

I totally doubt your husband regrets DS but it is hard to lose your free time. I would however ask him to come for nice trips to the park and tell him you feel bad going on a family outing without him. He will adjust and is sure to enjoy them soon.

CHJR Thu 13-Feb-14 16:26:35

I think very small babies just seem too foreign to many fathers (and many mothers btw): they can't talk; they're very dependent on mother.

You can help by suggesting specific, discrete things they do together (eg bathtime is a great idea, even if Daddy isn't always home in time) and make sure you don't "know better" how to do those specific things. Indeed make a point of consulting DH once in a while: "Do you think he's old enough for solids yet? Should we start with baby rice or applesauce?" For those big milestones, included DH: schedule DS's ritual first feeding, haircut etc when Daddy can be there holding the spoon, the scissors or the camera. Call him at once or text him for those moments you can't schedule: "He said Ball! It was definitely BALL!" or "He's finally figured out how to crawl!"

And really point out to Daddy how much his child lights up when he sees him. Comment on it often. Daydream aloud about how when he's older he might want to go kick a ball around with Daddy or need help learning to ride a bike. Massage it!

widdle Thu 13-Feb-14 16:29:12

Thanks fluffyraggies - yes, I suppose I do the majority of the caring - still BF'ing and DS still a nightmare at night. DH can sleep through DS's wakeups like a champ smile

I'm sure DH does love DS - I just wish he would stop the complaining when I'm the one who is constantly sleep deprived! A bit of lighthearted support rather than whinging would make me feel a whole lot better but I suppose he thinks he is commiserating when he says these things.

And BettySwollocks - I'm glad it gets better!!

dilys4trevor Thu 13-Feb-14 16:33:39

My DH showed fairly limited interest in our second son up until he was about a year old. Babies are just not that interesting to men, especially whilst we are at home with them all day on ML and they are out in the real world.
Now my boys are 5 and 3 and DH is MUCH more involved and engaged. Your DH's feelings sounds perfectly usual to me and I am sure he will be a brilliant Dad when your son is old enough to appreciate it. The first year does tend to fall to women mostly, alas. Then again, during that time (when I am on ML) it is kind of my job to be the most interested. Now we are both at work in quite high pressured jobs and everything (inc emotional investment etc) is equal. I am pregnant with DC3 and when I am off, I expect most stuff will fall to me and I can't imagine the baby will get much attention from him at all versus his relationship with the boys. But I know that will change.

juneau Thu 13-Feb-14 16:44:56

Your DH sounds a lot like mine. He was pretty crap when both our boys were babies, he wasn't at all enthusiastic about either of my pregnancies, he found childbirth very off-putting - and it was extremely isolating for me at the time (we also lived OS until DS1 was two, which made it worse).

I would say that it got a lot better once they were past the baby stage - once they started to be 'little people' with a voice and said 'Daddy' and reached out to him and he was able to build his own relationship with them. Until then, he was pretty disinterested.

To be honest, I think it was because his stock went down in our house when our boys came along. I went from being a loving wife to being an exhausted mum without a lot of time for him on both occasions and that didn't sit well with his ego. Sad, but true.

Dahlen Thu 13-Feb-14 16:57:36

It's difficult to gauge how much of this is your DH being a prat and how much is your own projection. You had PND (hope you're feeling much better now BTW), so is it possible that you're still in a negative mindset and projecting? IOW, you think your DH lamenting the loss of his carefree days, unbroken sleep, shared sleeping arrangements must = regret at the arrival of his DS?

It may be the case that your DH is finding it hard to adjust but although it often feels like hard slog and he's voicing that, he wouldn't be without your DS and considers him fully worth this difficult stage.

Have you asked him how he feels directly? It's worth asking even if you feel the answer isn't one you'd like. I can understand your trepidation based on the "this is hell" comment, which is really immature of him and very unhelpful, but that doesn't necessarily means he hates his life, it may be more of an expression that he's finding the current situation hard.

Your DS is here to stay, and unless your DH is a fuckwit, he will know that it's a case of making this work, not walking away from it, so the question is what can you do together to make life more pleasant. This will also take away the element of competitive tiredness, which sets you at each other rather than encouraging you to work as a team.

I think focussing on trying to have more fun family time is a very good idea. Part of your DH's problem may be that he's not quite sure what to do once you take away the practical elements of feed them, bathe them, dress them, keep them safe, etc. Having more fun will give him ideas. Insist he does this, though. Working in paid employment full time does not give him carte blanche to leave the majority of your DS's care to you. The more of a bond he has with his DS, the easier he will find it to cope.

bodygoingsouth Thu 13-Feb-14 17:03:40

parenthood is one hell of a shock.

I blame stupid films and celebrities who simply portray family life as wonderful and fun. it can he neither it can be bloody unremitting hard work and adjustment.

op your dh sounds a bit like me when ds1 was born. I lived him but I was young, stuck at home after giving up a demanding and responsible career and none of my friends had kids. I was bored with him to be completely honest but loved him too.

my dh by contrast was totally besotted and tbh it annoyed me a bit.

fast forward to his toddler years and another baby and things were much better. he was company and we chatted and had fun together.

both me and dh have different relationships with our 4 kids and it's important to recognise you have different strengths.

your dh going to work, providing, cooking, tidying up, that shows his love for his son far far more than a few nursery rhymes.

he will get more interested when your ds is more interesting grin

Lancashiregirl Thu 13-Feb-14 17:07:50

Hi OP,

Try not to worry too much. My DH (and others I can think of) helped when our 2 dcs were babies, but I always got the impression he really did not enjoy it and was just doing his duty. He appeared to be trying to hide that he was bored, frustrated and a bit miserable with out first one (not so bad with second).

But then, just as I was trying to come to terms with him never engaging with fatherhood, it changed as they became little people and their personalities developed. He's a great, hands-on, involved, loving dad now.

I suspect I reflected some of my own struggles with adjusting to motherhood on to the situation too - difficult not to.

Good luck

StarShank Thu 13-Feb-14 17:08:47

Ask him why he says it is hell and then listen and suggest things? Sounds hard for both of you.

If it was me I might talk about how my life has changed since the birth and how sometimes it is boring and not fun, etc etc. Really show him it is OK to say what is really going on. Just using the word hell seems... Significant.

LaQueenOfHearts Thu 13-Feb-14 17:22:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bodygoingsouth Thu 13-Feb-14 17:33:36

LaQueen so glad you posted. I never tell anyone and I felt just like you did about ds1. it sounds shameful in a mother.

I loved him but god it was boring. gets much better.

LaQueenOfHearts Thu 13-Feb-14 17:47:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

widdle Thu 13-Feb-14 19:36:10

Thanks for your lovely replies. I think it also has to do with my very weird PILs. They came to visit for 5 days when ds was 5 weeks old. FIL held ds twice in the whole visit (for less than a minute each time) and was more interested in trying to organise boat trips and golf games with DH than with spending time with his GS. Since then they have seen ds once on Skype (in 8 bloody months!) and even have to ask which one is ds if I send them photos with more than 1 baby on them!!

I suppose I do worry that DH has inherited more of his dads characteristics than he would care to admit.

I know that he was hurt by his dads attitude but often makes excuses for them.

it's hard being away from my parents (who adore ds and can't get enough of him). Being overseas means that I am probably looking for us to be a much tighter family unit than if I had other support.

widdle Thu 13-Feb-14 19:50:33

Starshank - I think dh was probably just describing our general life at that time. I was really struggling and didn't feel a bond with ds until months later - it actually really was hell. I've gotten over that and absolutely adore ds now but feel as though DH still thinks of parenthood as a burden.

however I'm going to make a concerted effort to point out the lovely things in our life now. To be fair DH has been a great practical support but I feel as though he is missing out on the joy of ds. Hopefully things improve!

juneau Fri 14-Feb-14 10:58:34

I have a very organised personality, I like life to be calm and smooth, and I'm a bit of a control freak - babies tend to explode that kind of life

Yes - this is me! I guess both my DH and I struggled, but in different ways.

But OP yes, just talk. DH and I actually bond over how shit things are at times. Having a baby is not a romantic, lovely experience for many, many people. It takes ages to adjust your life and expectations to what is now possible. Our oldest is six and we still struggle with all the things we can't do any more. It's bloody hard raising kids and not being able to have a proper 'adult' life any more. I'd love to go and sit in a pub on a Sunday afternoon and listen to some jazz, or while away an afternoon pottering around antique and book shops - but those kind of delights are a distant memory. Lie ins? Gone. Sleepy morning sex? You must be joking. Spontaneous evenings out or weekends away? Don't make me laugh.

But I think acknowledging to one another how hard it can be is positive. So many people gloss over the hard bits and say stuff life 'But it's all worth it when she smiles', and when you're struggling those kind of comments just make you feel more shit.

VeryBoringName Fri 14-Feb-14 11:21:47

Unfortunately very young kids can be pretty boring, men don't seem to be interested until the kid can actually do "interesting" things & can find it hard to bond to them until they do.

It'll pick up....

widdle Fri 14-Feb-14 14:56:22

Hi Juneau - yes!! Re your last comment it doesn't help that I seem to be surrounded by other mum's who seem to find constant joy in their babies and go on about what a great time their husbands have with them In the meantime I am stuck with a constantly whining baby who is going through his third week of teething hell and can't help thinking are we doing something wrong? I think I need to find some other mummy friends grin

juneau Fri 14-Feb-14 17:28:19

Yes maybe widdle! I have one friend who I can be completely honest with - and she with me - and it's very refreshing to not have to answer 'fine' whenever you're asked how you are. With her I can say 'Absolutely shit!' and we can laugh about it.

TheGreatHunt Fri 14-Feb-14 17:31:54

He sounds fine to me.

As someone else said, I wonder if you're projecting your own feelings into this. Yes it is hell - my dh said the same and I agreed but I didn't take it to mean he regretted or didn't love his children. He looks after baby, he gives you space.

Have you spoken to anyone recently about how you're finding things?

Timetoask Fri 14-Feb-14 17:35:07

Some people (specially men) are more involved when the child becomes more engaging and interesting, they don't enjoy the baby and toddler years but love being a parent later. It's just the way it is I'm afraid.

sadbodyblue Fri 14-Feb-14 17:53:09

I think more parents feel like this too op. it's just not discussed.

I think for me the guilt and almost the anti climax of looking forward to bonding with my baby and being a fantastic sahm and not being able to talk about my feelings made them far worse.

that's why mumsnet is so good as you can share and realise you are definatly not alone.

dilys4trevor Mon 17-Feb-14 15:19:21

This is a great thread. It is a bit of a taboo to admit it sometimes. And it isn't just Dads who struggle to be interested when they are babies, as this thread shows. Life looking after a baby is pretty dull on a day-to-day basis, especially when very young.

Widdle, my FIL is just the same. Except he still expects his lack of interest to be rewarded with huge cuddles and excited shouts of 'Grandad!' from my DC, when they obviously don't give a hoot that he is their Dad's dad and tend to respond to people who bother with them. Almost the worst kind of lack of interest: their is still an ego attached!

He is getting slightly better now they are older but not much.

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