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to expect DP to engage with the DC, rather than just supervising them?

(35 Posts)
SashaFierce99 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:11:24

DP spends a lot of time standing around with his hands in his pockets. He never gets down on the floor to play with the DC, suggests a game or initiates play. I feel like he supervises them but never engages with them. The DC don't bother asking him to play anymore but occasionally he'll offer to read a book. However, he reads it in the most monotonous voice imaginable, sticks to the text, doesn't do voices or expression and tells the DC off if they talk to try and discuss the story or pictures.

If the baby is up to no good, he just picks her up and moves her without a word and turns on a noisy toy to distract her then leaves her again. If the older DC are arguing over a toy, rather than helping them resolve it, he'll just remove it.

I admit I'm probably OTT and do really enjoy playing with the DC. If I know I need to do something (like cook tea), I'll help them find something to do first rather than have them nag and keep saying I'm busy (like DP does).

Aibu to expect him to engage with them, at least some of the time, rather than just supervising them?

PaulAnkaTheDog Tue 23-Feb-16 22:16:34

Some people just don't like playing. I don't and it's never harmed ds.

YippeeTeenager Tue 23-Feb-16 22:21:30

I can't see how he's going to have any kind of relationship with them if he never actually relates to them and that's sad. I'd have a word with him. It's not just about playing with them, he needs to bother to communicate. And you don't sound overly precious, but perfectly normal and interested in your children.

turkeylovessprout Tue 23-Feb-16 22:23:50

My (recently separated) h was just like this. I know it doesn't 'harm' them as such but I do think they miss out on creating some kind of bond.
It takes effort sometimes to come down to their level. I don't really love rolling around the floor but I read,play, enthuse and do silly stuff with them - that's my job as a parent.
h never did any of this stuff and still doesn't.
He gets bored quickly and so do they. That's his decision though and he's the one missing out.

minipie Tue 23-Feb-16 22:24:25

Does he engage with them at other times, eg does he talk to them at mealtimes, play with them in the park, chat to them at bathtime?

I don't think it's entirely necessary to play with your DC (though onviously, it means the DC won't see him as being as much fun - but he may not care about that). However it is necessary to engage with them in some way.

SashaFierce99 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:37:18

Even if you don't like it though, surely you make an effort for their sake?

He rarely initiates conversation with them either.

Gotosleep123 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:37:21

I find it hard to understand when people don't play with their kids. I don't always want to play 'shop' first thing in the morning or do a peppa pig jigsaw but I do for my child's sake.

Having said that my DH is not always the best at playing and never plays with the baby but I think a lot of it is because he doesn't know how to or is not confident. He has no role model. He makes up for it in lots of other ways by chatting etc and as the baby is getting older he is interacting more so I don't think the kids miss out.

I actually think smart phones have a lot to answer for (speaking as someone who can also be glued to my screen)

HeddaGarbled Tue 23-Feb-16 22:42:31

Yes, it would be nice if he was more playful. But on the other hand, he is keeping them safe.

I wonder if he is different when you aren't there. He may feel embarrassed to experiment with doing voices and accents etc in front of you for fear you would sneer internally at his attempts which are not as good or uninhibited as yours.

Does he take them out without you? That might be a good way for them to bond independently and in a different way to yours.

Maybe the two of you balance each other out nicely as parents and as they grow, the children will know that they can go to their dad for serious advice and support.

GlitteryFluff Tue 23-Feb-16 22:45:03

God I hate playing. I accept I'm probably being unreasonable though.
I only work part time. So I'm with DS a lot. He is 18 months.
There's only so many times in a day I can stack things, shape sort, read books, play ball etc. Most of the time he's happy to play on his own, potter around, etc. If he wants me to join in he brings me a toy or book and I always give him the attention he needs then. But I go by him. I do talk to him throughout the day, chat about what either one of us is doing, but I can't 'play' all day. It's sooooo boring!

SashaFierce99 Tue 23-Feb-16 23:15:15

Maybe I'm too demanding but keeping them safe isn't good enough IMO. He's worse when I'm not there and glued to his phone according to the older DC.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 23-Feb-16 23:55:09

Some people are good at playing, some are good at nurturing, some are good at conflict resolution, some are less risk averse and allow the kids their freedom to explore. Some are bloody useless and don't give a shit.

He is crap at playing; fine. He doesn't give a shit and never does anything fun or important with them; not fine.

VoldysGoneMouldy Wed 24-Feb-16 00:03:40

I think it's really sad (and telling) they don't ask him to play. If you have young children, it involves playing with them. If you don't want to play - get a goldfish.

PenelopeChipShop Wed 24-Feb-16 08:18:21

I don't think you're unreasonable at all and I sympathise a lot but this is a hard one IMO. I'm going through it at the moment with my DH - we've been in counselling and the primary reason is how polar opposite we turned out to be as parents. This is one of the main issues. He works long hours in the week so only really has the chance to play at weekends - fair enough, but he can still get through virtually a whole weekend having spent no more than 10 minutes actually playing!

It does bother me - as does his tendency to just hand our DS the iPad or put the tv on when he needs entertaining - and he's only 3 so screen time does need limiting ! - but I'm trying really hard to notice what he does do insteD of criticising. So he'll take DS to soft play or meh e a football game that he wants to see , for example - which counts as 'quality time' I guess!

It's such a hard one to solve as the situation is self perpetuating - the DC quickly learn which parent is more likely to play and and so are more demanding of that one while ignoring the other, which gives the less engaged parent even more of an excuse not to step up...

I'm trying to be more inclusive and involve DH in games with all three of us, which seems to work in as much as DS is keener to spend time with him afterwards. I think it's so obvious that you get out what you put in in this situation and am not sure why that isn't obvious to my DH so I do fe your pain !!

honeylulu Wed 24-Feb-16 08:29:36

Get him to cook the dinner while you enjoy playing with the children. Win win.

AlpacaMyThings Wed 24-Feb-16 08:42:31

My DH didn't really get the baby/toddler years, but now they are older he really enjoys talking to them about life, politics, music, social media etc etc, and gets involved with their homework and revision. I think he just feels more comfortable with them being 'adults' than babies.

HPsauciness Wed 24-Feb-16 08:49:05

It's difficult to say as lots of people don't like playing imaginary games or board games- and they have one parent who does, so if he's moderately interested in them but just not in that way, I think it's great to have two parents for that reason!

However, he sounds beyond that, and actually disengaged altogether. If he's on the phone, standing around and not interested at all, and doesn't find any points of engagement with them (taking them to clubs, pottering about together doing tasks) then it is going to mean that this gets worse, not better.

Is he concerned about the quality of the relationship? Do the children generally get on well with him and feel close to him (despite him not doing what you think of as the right way to parent)?

I think it's about whether there a caring connection there more than whether he rolls around on the floor with them- this can be present in more than one way (as I say, giving lifts to teenagers, companionable silence).

pinkdelight Wed 24-Feb-16 08:49:29

I'm another who hates playing with little ones and though I did make an effort, I think kids are very quick to pick up on that. You really can't fake it for long. It's honestly not disadvantaged my kids in any way. I looked after them and other people played with them, and now they're older I like talking to them a lot more than I ever liked playing with them. Maybe some parents who love playing with little ones are less good with older kids. You can only be yourself and that's not a bad thing to teach a child really. As long as they're safe and loved and cared for and someone plays with them - or indeed playing by yourself can be a great thing for a kid's imagination.

HPsauciness Wed 24-Feb-16 08:50:31

I see MrsTerryPratchett said it already much better than me!

Branleuse Wed 24-Feb-16 08:50:57

is he conversational and engaging with you and other adults?

ComeonSummer1 Wed 24-Feb-16 09:39:31

I think it's very hard to judge from
Your post.

He might just be crap at doing the little kid stuff and come into his own when they are teens.

I find people who constantly play/helicopter their children irritating and annoying and sticking their ability to imagine by themselves, not saying that's you op just a point.

However your remark that the older kids say he's always on his phone is worrying as either they are aware of your feelings and enjoy 'reporting' back to you which isn't healthy or he really is very bored and disengaged.

Maybe you are so good at playing that he feels he can't compete and so doesn't try.

Millionprammiles Wed 24-Feb-16 10:52:37

Assuming your dp has a job out of he house so isn't with the kids 24/7, I'd expect him to want to make more of the time he does see them.

Fine so he doesn't like playing then he needs to find some other activity he and the kids can do together sometimes - be it sport, trips out, whatever.

If he doesn't want to play shop/lego/board games then he needs to take the initiative and suggest/encourage something else sometimes.
Doing the housework instead isn't really a viable alternative. Being a parent isn't a job he can just resign from.

Its a risky strategy to disengage from kids and assume he can pick up the relationship a few years later. Its also wholly unfair on you and the kids.

Branleuse Wed 24-Feb-16 11:38:27

its also not up to anyone else to micromanage how someone is with their own kids - not even the other parent, provided hes not abusive ofc.

Hes taking care of them, hes supervising them, he loves them, he feeds them. You cant make him into a mirror of you.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Wed 24-Feb-16 12:17:41

What Branleuse said.

Be careful, OP. You say that your older children 'report' that their father is on his phone all the time when you're not there. Are you actively coaching your children to benchmark their father's attention and report back to you? Bad form if so.

Your way is just one way, it's not necessarily the best way and I echo the post of HeddaGarbled that he may feel inhibited because you are there - and you ARE judging.

Obs2016 Wed 24-Feb-16 12:44:42

Oh I cant stand playing. I will ocassionally. Jump into bed and have a cuddle, or snuggle up under the blanket whilst we watch a film. I actually finally had a go ont he x box and ds2 said "wow mum, you are actually REALLY good"!! grin I too don't think my kids have been damaged.

Bad form? Indeed. They report he's glued to his phone? So am I, as I FB and MN, whilst my kids potter about, play on tablets, play on x box. And your problem is? YABU.

PenelopeChipShop Wed 24-Feb-16 14:30:43

You always see people trotting out the line that some dads 'come into their own' later on when the DC are older on these kinds of threads and it always really annoys me actually.

So mum gets to do all the hard work and be permanently on duty trough the pre-school years, then when the kids are actually slightly more rewarding and good company the sad can step in and reap the rewards and we can be grateful that we're getting a bit of help after 4/5/8 years, depending on no of kids and age gap??

Sorry but not for me, no! I think it makes a huge difference to the future whether one or both parents are involved in the early years.

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