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SM here with DP who struggles with fatherhood

(7 Posts)
DPStugglingSD Sun 18-Mar-18 17:18:20

Firstly I would like to say that his kids love him and he dotes on them.

He is in the situation though where he has two children who he sees every Weds and every other weekend from Fri after school until Sunday bedtime. He is a hands on dad and does all the mundane childcare stuff as well as the fun weekend stuff (he does dentist, doctors, opticians appointments if they fall on his Weds or Fri). He doesn't expect me to do anything for them (other than to be nice to them) and he does all meals, bedtimes, bath times, washing etc. He never misses a weekend (even when he had surgery the day before) and pays above the CSA amount, plus uniforms, shoes, school trips and any other unexpected expenses.

The thing he struggles with is discipline - he wants to cooperatively coparent with his ex but his ex is practicing gentle parenting. She doesn't discipline or give consequences for bad behaviour and it has resulted in an 11yo who thinks it is acceptable to punch their 6yo sibling and a 6yo who is frustrated at being smaller (and bullied) and is explosive.

I have (gently) persuaded my DP that totally ignoring the behaviour is not going to work - the children frequently injure each other. Unfortunately his ex has told the children that their dad has no right to raise his voice and to ignore him. He doesn't raise his voice (unless someone is about to get injured) but the children have been brought up to believe that no adult should question them. To give an example the 6yo is in a football club and will explode if the coach tried to tell him to do something differently (like sliding tackles are dangerous and he must not do them).

Is there anywhere that is a little bit gentler on dads than MN where he can get support? He is open to advice but I don't think anyone telling him he's a shit dad his ex does enough of that is going to help his mental health. He just needs techniques on dealing with a child who explodes and cannot listen and an ex who thinks her parenting way is the only way. I tried to explain about parallel parenting and how kids adapt to two sets of rules but I think I am too involved for it to have much of an effect.

He split from his ex 5 years ago, there was no OW/OM, we have been together for 2 years and I have a good relationship with the kids for some reason they listen to me. We do not live together.

loopylass13 Mon 19-Mar-18 09:00:01

You might want to read up on Gentle Parenting and implement some of the suggestions - it is not passive parenting by a long shot. It is seeing that all behaviour is a communication. That there are natural consequences to things and though there is not a traditional sense of discipline, there are things you can do to tackle behaviours you don't like. It is lots of explaining (over and over) and removing the more obvious issues of tension, whether by putting them out of reach lol. It is being consistent and engaging with them, getting down to their level a lot and explaining. It does work but it can take time.

I wouldn't ignore children fighting but since I only have one child, not sure the best approach for that. Children do adapt to different parenting styles. I am a gentle parent and my main baby sitter (grandparents) are not - the funny thing, I think i have better "control" than they do over the little one lol.

It must be frustrating but I would look into Gentle Parenting then you are seen as working with the mum, as that is what dad seems to be trying to do. If mum doesn't like what you are doing then you can refer to the gentle parenting books, that this is what it says which is what you are doing like she wants. Maybe look at some YouTube videos on the subject, join a gentle parenting facebook group etc. It is hard when you feel powerless.

loopylass13 Mon 19-Mar-18 09:08:17

Books: The Gentle Parenting Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith (she has several, including one titled "Gentle Discipline").

Facebook: Gentle Parenting UK. Fab for advice!!

FlippingFoal Mon 19-Mar-18 10:54:36

Thanks Loopy. I've had a read around what you have advised and this isn't what his ex is actually practicing - she simply doesn't get involved and allows the children to reach the natural end to their decisions - even if this is an 11yo punching a 6yo in the face and then the 6yo trying to strangle them whilst in the car. She doesn't limit screen time at all (including gaming which is what usually causes explosions) and the children have no bedtimes at their mums, they just all go to bed at the same time. The 6yo who cosleeps waits until his mum is asleep and then goes downstairs and plays Xbox till he falls asleep god knows what time that is but he claims 2am on a school noght.

My partner is struggling as sometimes the only way to keep the children safe from each other is to physically remove the 6yo from the room, kicking and screaming...

I will point him in the direction of the gentle parenting Facebook so he can see how it works when it is done properly.

Thank you again

loopylass13 Mon 19-Mar-18 13:26:35

This is why mum might leave them to sort it out between themselves under the heading of gentle parenting. To me it seems more about not interfering with verbal arguments than physical fighting. I imagine most would step in if children were throwing punches routinely (like you wouldn't let them touch fire though the natural consequence is they learn it burns them).

Gentle Discipline Book
"Far too many parents act as judge and jury when it comes to solving sibling arguments, but is this really good discipline? Think about what you want your children to learn from your discipline when they fight. Do you want them to learn to resolve problems amicably between themselves without needing your input? If so, then you must start from this position and help them do it. The more you intervene, split them up, take a toy away, distract or admonish them, the less chance there is that they will learn how to resolve their differences. This lack of autonomy becomes further trigger for sibling rivalry as children are the incapable of handling friction and problem solving in a calm and considerate way - a skill that will become vital as they grow up. This can quickly lead to more bickering, shouting and violent behaviour between siblings".

The book has a chapter on "Coping with Sibling Rivalry".

Co-sleeping and unlimited screen is not uncommon in GP circles, but the suggested advice with the latter is to not have it on 2/3 hours before bed as it can interfere with sleeping.

loopylass13 Mon 19-Mar-18 13:31:28

Could you get rid of gaming at your house for the time being? Claim it is being repaired etc. Give them a break from it and a chance to do other things so less of a trigger for fighting/explosion in your home etc

loopylass13 Mon 19-Mar-18 13:37:09

Just realised you don't live together - so no gaming in his house if possible might help

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