Dh different childhood(53 Posts)
Dh had a very different childhood to me growing up. He had no siblings and had a very "poor" upbringing. He didn't have his own bedroom and slept on the sofa in the living room at night. They never went on family holidays or days out, but he did travel sometimes with his mum. He didn't have hobbies or big Christmas/birthdays with lots of presents. The few things he did have a child are still in the flat where he grew up and it is a few games books.
His dad was mentally ill and didn't seek treatment and was abusive. He also had a kind of hoarding problem. The flat has not been decorated or changed since the 70s because he wouldn't allow anything to be changed. His mum left when dh was 12 and moved abroad to be a carer. She offered to take dh with her but he didn't want to leave his school and friends. So he was left to cope with his dad until he was old enough to move out.
I had all the typical family events, siblings, traditions etc. most of us take for granted. I am expecting our first child and would like these traditions to continue in our family. But dh doesn't seem to appreciate or want to enjoy a lot of these things. E.g he doesn't believe in buying gifts for the sake of it so we don't do that for birthdays or Christmas. He also reacts really inappropriately when people give him gifts. We both got advent calendars from my parents this year and he gave his away. I had to nag like mad this year to just get a tree, but once we got it he really enjoyed putting it up and comes in and turns on the lights etc. It's not just Christmas - easter, Halloween, or struggling to join in with my family's traditions.
But it's small steps and I'm worried that our daughter will miss out on some of these small things that give so much joy.
Aibu to focus on this when actually I am expecting him to be excited about things he never had?
Anyone experienced something similar who can give advice?
You seem to assume that your experience is the 'correct' one and his is to be ignored. Shouldn't your DC grow up knowing both parents way of doing things? Surly you can find a balance, maybe alternating how each of you do a particular holiday.
I can see a lot of value in learning that not every holiday is a hedonistic glut fest.
Maybe he thinks most of your family traditions are superfluous, do adults need advent calenders? I think most grown men would think that tradition a bit childish. I found similar with my DH, he had quite a middle class upbringing in his country of origin in that he had a good education, always had food on the table, is now a professional but finds many of our British traditions and particularly consumer habits say at Christmas, very wasteful and needless. So after having 2dc, we've had to compromise and find a middle ground, hopefully you will with your DH. Agree with previous poster, don't automatically assume your way is the right way, we could all do with spending and consuming less.
Your own upbringing has a huge influence, more than you think until you have children yourself.
Like for me, kids should be ‘tucked in’ at night. Meaning you make sure they are comfy, have a chat, kiss and snuggle. DH never got this so doesn’t do it.
Have you spoken to your dh about it?
Sounds like your DH had a bit of a shit time, but that doesn't mean you need to accept the cycle repeating.
Can you find a middle way, with the main components, but without going OTT
(no elf on the shelf, christmas PJS, films and hot chocolate every day in Dec etc - as described on MN)
Shouldn't your DC grow up knowing both parents way of doing things?
I don’t think recreating a sad and abusive childhood is the way forward.
My advice would be to embrace all the lovely things from your childhood and let him see how wonderful they can be.
Perhaps when he sees that he can, in a way, enjoy those things he missed through giving them to hips own child.
Good luck OP
do adults need advent calenders?
Nobody, adult or child, needs anything for Christmas, birthdays, Easter etc.
It isn’t about what people need. It is about the joy of giving and receiving gifts, knowing the person you have bought for is getting a little treat. Something to give them a little smile. If we all just got what we need despite being able to give more life would be very miserable indeed.
It sounds like your DH had a really tough childhood, which of course will have had a massive impact on the person he is as an adult. It sounds like you have been very sensitive to this in the past (eg you say that he doesn’t believe in buying gifts for the sake of it so you don’t do that), but you’re finding it harder now you have a child?
Have you talked to DH about this and explained your feelings? I agree with others that a compromise could be reached. Advent calendars for adults are a bit OTT in my opinion, but I agree with you that it would be sad if your DD missed out on having a tree. Good luck OP
There were a lot of things that I didn't have as a child that would have made me happy-it doesn't mean that I think that they are 'superflous' or that I don't want my children to have them.
Get you, OP. My DH wasn't neglected materially but he was just left to his own devices. No hobbies, no days out apart from to his dad's at weekend. But in reality, his dad took him to his nana's, where he watched tv or played games whilst his dad lay on the sofa nursing a hangover.
He can't use a knife and fork properly, chews open mouthed, has zero confidence at going about and has to be reminded to wash. These things we usually learn as a child but no one taught him.
Like your DH he is a whizz at computers and games because that was all he was given to do.
Also gifts, he is used to being given gifts all the time. And big ones that in my family, would be huge presents for birthday and xmas. In consequence he buys himself stuff right on christmas and then has hardly anything to ask for.
The only posession he had from childhood was one cuddly toy. He asked for it when his grandma's house was cleared but was told it had been given away.
I think yanbu in expecting excitement, but yabu also. I often feel like my DH needs a lot of guidance at this time of year. I try to have in the back of my mind a little boy who simply doesn't know what to do. And the trappings of christmas can be overwhelming.
But, that said, your DH may never 'get' it but he should be focussed on providing happy memories for his children.
I think he might warm up a bit once the DCs are older. I’ve never been a huge Christmas fan, although we always celebrated we did a traditional simple Christmas so I don’t get the elf on the shelf, Xmas tree up on the 1st Dec, or advent calendars etc but this year DS (nearly 3) is starting to get it, and I’m actually excited for him.
But agree with others, perhaps keep in simple and traditional rather than all out?
I think over time you'll just adapt to each other's experiences and expectations - DH and I are chalk and cheese in terms of childhoods, family backgrounds etc, but he's adopted a lot of my traditions and routines, I've addressed some of my assumptions about how things "should" be, and it works out OK. Having children together actually helped, so don't assume the worse.
I had a very affluent, comfortable childhood in a different country.
I too find the obsessive focus on material objects and consumption that seems to surround most family bonding traditions in the UK fairly uncomfortable.
Fortunately dh has come round to my way of seeing things and we have chosen a few things that we both like to make our own traditions and make events special for our dc. So we don't do gifts, but we do decorate the house and put up a tree, make bonfires, and cook special meals.
Perhaps you and your dh can talk about creating something that is meaningful for both of you?
(I would be fairly as well if I got given an advent calendar, btw, and would most likely give it away or bin it. )
It could be that these things are actually upsetting him because they remind him of bad experiences? My Dh is like that. He had some very awful christmases as a child and is reluctant to join in at this time of year. Its very frustrating as we have a young child and another on the way and for me its very important. Christmas was a happy time in my family where I really felt loved and like it was a magical occasion. I want to recreate that for my children.
Its hard though to accept that for DH it was not a happy time where he felt loved and so anything to do with it makes him depressed. All he really wants to do is have a drink and watch a film on Christmas day. All the other preparations he finds stressful and he usually spends the whole period in an awful mood. Weve had countless arguments about it because although i try to be understanding I do get resentful that i feel like im putting in effort to make everyone happy and hes just there with a face like thunder all the time. Its hard so I feel for you OP. Id personally like to be able to detach from it more and just get on with it myself and not let his lack of enthusiasm effect me, but thats a very hard thing to do. I know im making it worse by putting pressure on him to get into it when he cant.
We've talked about it and he is trying, hence the tree this year.
He is really fixated on the environment, anti-consumerism and simple living. We live most of our lives this way. He is lord of the food shopping and makes sure everything is fair trade, organic, chemical free. It can be frustrating at times but I understand his reasons and there is a lot of compromise from my side there. You know sometimes I would just like some salami or a cupboard full of crisps or socks from primark but I know he doesn't feel comfortable about it. But when it comes to things for the baby i have to put my foot down. I wanted how buy a unit to keep nappies, powders etc and it turned into a huge debate. I think since his dad was a hoarder he also gets paranoid we are accumulating too much.
I don't need a huge Christmas either, just a Christmas. I just want to share a bit of magic in our lives. My dh isn't a miserable bastard but sometimes he comes across that way. He's a loving person and has a great sense of humour. But he just doesn't know how to experience magic. It's not about having 50 presents but the magic of sitting around the tree as a family thinking santa has been, or looking under your pillow to find 10p from the tooth fairy. I hope that once he sees the joy it will bring our daughter he can find some joy in that too.
could you start some Christmas traditions that would meet his organic ambitions? Maybe baking together (when the children are older) or looking for natural greenery to decorate the house (if you would be allowed to cut them and bring them in!) - that way you are doing something that isn't consumer-focused but could still make happy memories.
I agree with tiptoptoes that it's probably a bit traumatic on some level, that seeing the ease with which you welcome and embrace joy shows up how neglectful his childhood was.
Can you talk to him about this? Would he like his daughter to have more joy in his childhood than he had? If it can be acknowledged between you that providing these things for her, will be bittersweet for him, it might make it easier for him to manage his ambivalence around these things.
* He also reacts really inappropriately when people give him gifts. We both got advent calendars from my parents this year and he gave his away*
What did he do when he was given an advent calendar? Saying thanks, then giving it away to someone who might actually want it is appropriate. Tearing it up and shouting why did you give me this you gits, is not, but what does he do?
You have one idea of what a loving environment is - tooth fairies, santa, presents for adults who share money etc. That's not the only way, your DH is presumably a loving person or you would not be having a child with him, you need to cut him more slack, acknowledge him not wanting gifts and get your parents to stop giving them to him - he only even has a relationship with these people because of you.
At the same time you need to explain the things that are important to you, and he needs to meet you - but it's not a "this is the right way to have a christmas/live" etc. But this is what I need, to be able to share these rituals, and you don't need to have your child treat you the same, their dad can not like gifts, not like excess etc. whilst their mum does.
My dd is a bit like that and she was brought up in a home with us where there was a regular amount of fuss. She hates consumerism and wont buy from lots of stores. It makes buying the customary pyjamas a nightmare.she is in her 20s.
Often l just ignore her so maybe ignoring his demands at times is ok. If you want to buy things you dont always need his permission..
I was the pretty neglected one. DH was fully, enthusiastically parented!
The stuff his family do and expect I took a long, long time to integrate into my normal. It’s taken 21 years of our relationship but I’m getting there slowly. I can see the value and if I forget my old prickly, defensive self and let go a bit I can enjoy it.
As adults were actually closer to my small, odd family however.
You aren't allowed to eat salami??
No way should he be policing what you eat.
An advent calender would not make me smile, sorry, it is not a treat for me. I think it is great to want to treat your children on occasions, my own dc are fairly spoilt and have things I could only dream of as a child but your dh is not a child and it sounds like he is fairly principled re consumerism, minimalism, you should do your own thing and respect his right to do his. I think particularly with Christmas in this country, even with other events, adults have become infantalised with adult advent calenders becoming the norm, dressing up at halloween or in christmas jumpers (even pjs god help us), going OTT at any given opportunity with all the associated tat. Its not for the benefit of the children is it? Adults that can't deal with being one and having to relive their childhood.
Gosh, it’s understandable but he sounds like hard work. If I were you I’d feel like he was sucking the joy out of everything. Can you explain to him that you can afford these things, so there’s no issue really?
Op o think you will find that once you have children old enough they will make their demands for xmas fun known!
I am sure he will mellow and enjoy stuff but to be honest our materialistic culture drives me insane - why on earth would an adult use or have any interest in an advent calendar..let alone two in a single household with no kids. i am very into christmas and fun but absolutely I would pass an advent calendar on if I was given one!
I cant even understand what an adult would do - would you expect him to get excited opening the Windows?
You are naturally worried about him relaxing and letting You enjoy bringing up kids and treating them to the special things in life - but as you will find out once your baby is older...there really is a torrent of consumer shite waiting to overwhelm them!! I think having a partner who has a different approach will be helpful ib bringing up kids
And if you want crisps or salami you have them!!
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