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DP not coping with our 22 month old DD

(14 Posts)
Arcadia Sat 08-Oct-11 10:05:42

I am quite concerned about my DP's parenting of DD. When she is fine, calm and happy he is a brilliant dad. However, as soon as she gets 'difficult' (crying, whinging, etc- all normal stuff at her age) he loses it, gets in a mood, huffs around, swears and shouts. She then picks up on his mood and gets more upset. He's been like this off and on since she was born. She's going through an especially unsettled phase for some reason and is very clingy to me which makes it worse for him as she is constantly asking for mummy.
The only time he has her on his own is saturday mornings when I get a break (I work and have her part-time) and often by the time I come downstairs he is already sulking. It's ruining some of our weekends, but more importantly I"m worried that it is going to damage her and her sense of self if she feels that he only loves her when she is being 'good'.
He has been mildly depressed since she was about 6 months old but I sometimes feel that it is a bit of an excuse for being impatient. He saw his GP once but nothing came of it.
We're not planning to have any more children (mainly as he can't handle it).
I try to explain to him that we are the adults and need to stay calm etc and that he can't expect her to be rational and that she doesn't always have a choice about her behaviour.
I think something like parenting classes may help but don't now how to raise this and he's resistant to things like counselling.
Is there anything I can do?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 08-Oct-11 10:30:55

I think all you can do is set a good example and pick him up if he gets it very wrong. Small children can be frustrating and I suppose the main thing for him to remember is that they're children who don't know any better, whereas adults who behaved the same way would be a serious problem. Having said that, some people - however hard they try - can't really cope with babies or small children and only get close to them once they are a bit older and able to hold a conversation. If he has a tendency to low moods and depression, I expect his tolerance levels are low for a lot of things... do other minor irritations throw him?

As for damaging your DD, I don't think that's a given. She may be more wary of Dad than Mum ... see him as less warm and a bit of a grumpy sort perhaps... but children are immensely adaptable and forgiving.

Arcadia Sat 08-Oct-11 10:53:22

Thanks Cogito, that's reassuring. He is an outwardly calm person who is easily thrown by minor irritations as you correctly guess! People who don't know him very well think he's chilled out, but I've always known he can quickly get wound up when he feels things are not in control (e.g. getting lost when driving). He's also particularly sensitive to loud noise, which doesn't help! Also he is an only child himself so not used to noise and action of small children.

Do you think I should take over more to avoid them having time alone together or do you think it is better for them to try and work it out?

I do hope it doesn't affect her too much. I think I need to try and be less anxious about it to avoid feeding into the general bad atmosphere. I find it hard to deal with any kind of tension within family life, but I suppose some is normal.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 08-Oct-11 11:06:50

I think, while she's small, take over a little more until she's out of the worst of the toddler phase. Do things more as a family, perhaps. In my own family my Dad (who is a lovely man but gets flustered easily) really only got very involved with me and my DB once we hit about 4yo. He would take me swimming that age while baby DB stayed home with Mum. With my DS he was the same... quite happy to give him a cuddle etc as a baby but very much 'hands off' until he was bigger. Funnily enough, both I and my DS think he is the best person in the world. smile

Iggly Sat 08-Oct-11 11:11:58

I think you need to speak to your DP about this. What happens when she gets older - she'll still have difficult phases. Not sure why the mum has to pander to this - it's only one morning a week.

Maybe he's having trouble because he doesn't know what to do when she is upset etc etc. Or things he does may well cause crying etc as toddlers don't work like we do.

If he's outwardly calm yet gets irritated by minor things - sounds like he's probably quite tightly wound up internally.

MrsVidic Sat 08-Oct-11 11:12:00

To be honest it sounds as if he has no confidence in his abilities and he sounds as if he thinks hes failing. I thinbk the best thing for you to do is get him to do some fun activities with her when ts a good time.

If things are structured she will respond better- ie- get them playing play dough, going to soft play. Dressing up, football, swimming?

Ensure he is aware of triggers and how she is sometimes bad for you too and we all feel the pressure- iyswim. For example when she winges does he know she may be tired, fustrated, hungry, needs to burn off some energy? Does he know how to distract her?

The small things we learn spending more time with our dc's than our partners can happen without us noticing.

And I would also give him a lot of praise for the stuff he gets right.

Get him to ensure he praises her when she is very good.

Arcadia Sat 08-Oct-11 11:35:33

Thanks again for more insightful comments.
MrsVidic I agree that he lacks confidence in himself which leads to a vicious cycle of getting low, so I don't want to be over critical of him to add to his own self-criticism. He has taken her to the library then to a family centre this morning, so they are probably fine now, but it's the nappy changes, dressing, getting her to have breakfast, getting her ready to go out etc. at home when problems flare up! He knows I struggle with her too and am no saint I get frustrated myself,I'm honest and he sees it and helps me out sometimes, so we generally work well as a team. But he says that I'm much more patient than him,I naturally empathise with her more and am more tuned in as I spend more time with her. I try to do the praise thing,maybe I need to praise him more, haven't thought of that.
Iggly it's true he is wound up internally. I've tried to be supportive, get him to talk,encourage him to talk to others etc. I'd love him to try counselling but don't think he would do that in a million years!
Cogito we do try and spend time as a family and it is generally good, but sometimes I just take her out for a day to give him a break.
An underlying problem with this is that I talked him into having a child, and I sometimes feel it isn't right for him, and I feel guilty about that. BUt of course we both adore her and hopefully it will get easier as she gets older.

MrsVidic Sat 08-Oct-11 11:51:42

if its the morning thing that hes struggling with could you help him and have you time off later (as youll both relax more)
Also try not to jump in taking over and just suggest?
Also point out to him youre not more patient- you are just used to it and have built up a tollerance!

glasscompletelybroken Sat 08-Oct-11 12:04:09

I'm not a very patient person but I don't think that has made me a bad mother.

As long as it doesn't go too far (and I don't think you're implying abuse of any kind) then I think it's a god thing for kids to know from an early age that everyone is different and that their own behaviour does have an impact on the response they get from other people.

That said - you're righ to remind him that he is the adult in the relationship and that him behaving like a child when the going gets tough doesn't really help!

Arcadia Sat 08-Oct-11 12:12:03

Thanks again. MrsVidic I have to admit that I'm dreadful in the mornings and Saturday is my only lie-in of the week, so I need it! But as breakfast is one of the problems I could help then. It's hard getting the balance between intervening and backing off. I have told him some of the strategies I use.
Glass I don't really think it is abuse just unpleasant but then he isn't like it when she is calm, so she is not having to deal with an unpredictable parent as such.

MrsVidic Sat 08-Oct-11 12:21:07

Sorry for posting again but #i just thought, he probably wont see your dd's behaviour in context- it may help him seeing her when she is with some of her toddler friends- he will see it is a stage not her personality iyswim. Also if shes a wriggler- pull ups are so much easier to wrestle on!

Arcadia Sat 08-Oct-11 12:35:41

That's true mrsvidic I get more time to see my friends and their toddlers being exactly the same. I look forward to seeing her grow and develop and go through different stages, he just says he is worried it will get harder (part of his low mood and outlook?).
We have just discovered pull ups, she likes wearing them and they are easier as you say, so that is making life a little easier.

InmaculadaConcepcion Sat 08-Oct-11 14:24:19

Do you think he might find it interesting to read a parenting book to help him have a few techniques up his sleeve for dealing with a recalcitrant toddler? I know I've found the reading I've done to be very helpful and my DH has dipped in and out of the same books, or listened when I've chatted with him about some of the things I've read that seem interesting and useful. I'm pretty sure it's helped both of us be more patient and feel more confident about managing some of the trickier situations that arise every day with our 20 mo DD.

We haven't been transformed into super-parents, but I know we've learned a lot and found plenty of good tips to use.

The Positive Discipline series is good and interesting to read. This links to the book aimed at age 0-3. Recommended.

Arcadia Sat 08-Oct-11 16:00:56

Thanks Immaculada, I have read one book and I do need some more guidance. DP will dip in if I have a book like that. We've had difficult phases before but DD seems to have changed overnight since a few weeks ago into a different child. She has just sent me away from the living room as she wants to have her milk on her own and not with me anymore sad. Also she had a massive but short-lived tantrum after lunch, banging her head on the sofa and the floor (scary). I think we're both a bit thrown by her new behaviour.
I'll look at that book you recommend and see if I can get it from the library.

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