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Help needed - leaving an emotionally abusive marriage and not sure about child discipline

(14 Posts)
bountyicecream Sun 21-Apr-13 22:05:00

I've posted this in behaviour/development as well as not sure where is the most appropriate

I am currently on my way out of an emotionally abusive relationship and have endured being told that I am 'pathetic', 'weak', 'a pushover' etc on a daily basis by my husband.

He has totally undermined my confidence and does not back me up. He is very heavy handed when discipling our DD and I am regularly accused of not backing him up when I do not agree with what I am doing.

I generally find DD (who is 2) much easier to handle when I am on my own. She is a typical 2 year old but also IMO generally well behaved and polite, especially in public.

I am just not sure whether my discipline is appropriate or not, and I want to try and get this clear in my mind before DD and I start afresh in a new home, when I think it would be less confusing for DD for 'new house new rules'.

I have had some success with a naughty step. I have seen her putting her dolls on the naughty step when they are 'naughty' so I think she understands the concept. However I have not used it so much recently as H does not support the naughty step so will laugh at me or tell her that it's fun to be on the naughty step.

When she is doing something low grade naughtiness or threatening a little wobble then I will often distract her by finding something else to look out. H says I shouldn't use distraction but should 'control her with my voice' ie get her to stop doing whatever it is by shouting at her.

If she has done something a bit more naughty such as throwing a toy or something dangerous like trying to touch a hot saucepan then I will tell her no and then explain why what she has done wrong. Once she acknowledge it or says sorry then I will hug her and move onto something else. H says this is wrong as I am 'rewarding her' with the hug.

He will shout at her or if it is dangerous physically move her away from the area and then she always cries. He will then tell her to stop being a baby and not to cry. He will then not speak to her until she stops crying which can be 15 - 20 mins. Eventually he will speak to her again and everything will be ok. These are the times that he accuses me of undermining him. She will come to me. I will calmly explain what she did wrong and then get her to say sorry or tidy up the mess she has made etc and then hug and continue with something different.

These are all for minor naughtiness such as throwing a toy, not hanging up her coat, persisting to touch something she has been told not to etc. Not more serious things like drwaing on walls, wilfully breaking something, hitting etc.

Sorry for the length. Thanks for getting this far. I feel like my opinion has been stamped out of me and I don't know what is sensible and what isn't. I know there is no one way to parent but could really do with a few pointers.

bountyicecream Sun 21-Apr-13 22:05:44

* para 3: I am regularly accused of not backing him up when I do not agree with what he is doing.

cjel Sun 21-Apr-13 22:15:52

I would trust your judgement, if he is ea with you you are right to have worries about him ea your dd. Why are you only in process of leaving? Leave now?

bountyicecream Sun 21-Apr-13 22:23:37

I struggle with trusting my judgement. That's why i want advice. I cannot leave right now. It's complicated. I've only just gone PT (something he has resisted since I went back to work) and the solicitor I need this to have been in place for a while otherwise there is a risk that he might successfully fight to be resident parent (which he has already threatened me with). I simply cannot take that risk, regardless of how bad his behaviour is to me. (unless he physcially assaulted me which he never would - far too in control for that)

cjel Mon 22-Apr-13 10:25:24

Morning, hope you feel ok today. How long do you think you may have to live like this? Have you taken advice from womens aid? It sounds odd to be advised to stay in situation where your child is being abused? I would take WA advise about this because I'm sure there are things you could do earlier rather than later.

bountyicecream Mon 22-Apr-13 22:04:23

Hi cjel. Thanks for coming back.

I need to stick it out for at least another 3 wks, then however long to get msyelf a new place sorted (but I could go to my parents if it got bad). I have spoken to WA and they are very helpful.

I don't think DD is really being abused. The harsh discipline is actually relatively rare as she is generally a well behaved little girl. I know this doesn't excuse it, but the abuse really is at me using what he perceives as DDs bad behaviour as a chance to have a dig at my parenting skills and to generally try to make me feel bad. Most of the time DD and her dad have a happy relationship. I know that doesn't excuse his behaviour but i think if I can just get through these next few weeks then it will make things easier in the long run. He's working very long hours so only actually seeing her on a Sat and Sun anyway.

cjel Mon 22-Apr-13 22:11:14

Thats good, hopefully if she only has a short time of contact with him she won't suffer, I know what you mean about excusing him. I can sit here and say ' you must protect your child first' but fully understand that you know what you need to for the best in the long term. I am not criticising you and don't underestimate the amount of courage and effort it is taking to do what you are. If you keep in touch with WA and know you have parents to fall back on if you need to I'm sure that you are doing the right thing. Is there any chance that you can start to put plans into place to get somewhere else to live so you are able to move as near after 3 weeks as possible? Don't know how best to have contact if you want support again?

cjel Mon 22-Apr-13 22:11:44

Sorry sent too soon !! Just keep posting I suppose?

bountyicecream Mon 22-Apr-13 22:23:39

Yes I will. I'm a regular on the EA support thread. But felt this was more a parenting issue and wanted advice from those not affected by EA. Sometimes the EA thread is a little skewed because we are so used to the abnormal being normal.

I don't think he's a bad father per se. Just a terrible husband. I don't doubt that he truly loves our DD. I suspect that he does love me in a way, but that his view of love and life is very damaged. I think we are both better parents apart.

I could rent somewhere I suppose, but I'd prefer to buy as I have some savings and feel this would again be a better long term use of my money. But if things got really bad I'm sure I could rent at fairly short notice. there seem to be lots of rentals around.

cjel Mon 22-Apr-13 22:30:24

I think what we consider to be a good dad would horrify some people who havent lived with an emotional abuser and from your OP i sensed that you were starting to question whether his discipline was abusive? I think it probably is but as you are in the process of keeping your lovely dd safe I think that a few more weeks will be OK. The only thing I would say is be careful about how long it takes to buy somewhere if you have to stay with him for that time. It isn't always best to make decisions like that on money. I rented for 6 months and although it cost £6,000 it was a cost I couldn't cut. Definately worth the money to be safe.x

bountyicecream Mon 22-Apr-13 22:38:30

I do worry that in time he will become absuve (emotionally) to her as she gets older and starts to question more his ways. My biggest fear is anorexia for her as he has real hang ups about food. Lots of his abuse to me is calling me fat, greedy etc. so much so that I went on a fitness regime last year. That was when I started to suspect that he was EA as I knew for a fact I was thinner than I'd ever been (my pre preg thin day clothes were big on me) but he kept on and on about how I didn't look as good as before I had DD. Even now he says we need to watch what she eats. She's 2 FFS!!!!! But I will definitely be out and may get professional help about this as she starts to approach an age when she'll notice fat and thin.

If I need to rent I will. My lovely parents have already offered me a no-strings loan if I need it so I could use it for that. I'm very lucky really.

I think he's a good dad when it suits him. Which obviously isn't really a good dad but is enough at the moment and he can manage it for a few hours 2 days per week.

cjel Mon 22-Apr-13 22:55:05

Yes I had lovely parents like you who just told me to rent and not worry about the money. I think now you are aware that he could be potential ea to dd that you will make sure that it doesn't happen. Well done.x

WaitingForPancakeDay Tue 23-Apr-13 13:03:29

You sound like you are being very sensible and qute rightly thinking through how you would approach things when you and your DD have relocated. your DD sounds wonderful. My DD is 2.5 and I did the naughty spot with her for the first time the other day where she stayed for 2 minutes then I told her to come to me, I explained why she was there (refusing to put her food wrapper in the bin) and she said sorry and we hugged. She then immediately put the wrapper in the bin. So I don't think the hug is confusing. It shows you're not angry and are moving on.

I have to say I do suddenly shout if she is about to touch something dangerous like a pan. Its the fastest way to get her out of danger as it makes her jump and look at me! I rarely do it, so it must have more effect!

Good luck with moving on.

bountyicecream Tue 23-Apr-13 21:15:53

Thanks pancake. She is wonderful (I may be a bit biased). That story is so reassuring. That is exactly the sort of low-level naughtiness I am talking about. My H would say that the hug is condoning the bad behaviour. But I agree that it is simply drawing a line under the issue and saying 'right we're friends now - lets get on with the day'

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