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How to criticise DP's parenting without starting WW3!

(18 Posts)
stinkingbishop Mon 17-Feb-14 09:37:55

To preface this, I LOVE DP and no I am not going to LTB! He is absolutely the best DP in the whole world and he adores and is adored by our twins. Apart from one exasperating issue...

He has been brave enough to admit he doesn't really 'know how to play with them'. Like I've got an A Level in it. I've tried the nicely nicely approach, suggesting things he might do like lego, their train set, playdough, just following their lead, and that basically they'll want to do anything he's doing because they worship him. I've also pointed out he was probably rather good at playing 40 years ago...

But he just doesn't make an effort and hides behind the 'I'm just not any good at it' excuse. And I am wondering whether it's actually more about not being engaged, which is a much bigger point. At the weekend he'll sit behind the papers and say 'oh, they enjoy ripping them up'. He's always on his Blackberry, the TV's tuned into the cricket, he's on his computer (and that's for the good of us all apparently because it's family admin)...Same at mealtimes, he'll wander around, again will be on the computer, the girls get so distracted by him because obviously they love him and are fascinated by what he's doing...

And then the general thing of them just not being top of mind. He doesn't make a single meal for them at the weekend. I never ask him apparently. But why should I have to ask? I give him a lie in (he travels a lot during the week) and he's meant to be down by 9.30, but wanders down after 10, goes off again to make his breakfast, goes off again to have a shower. It gets to 12.30 and I ask him to help me put them down for their nap and he looks up from his paper and says 'oh, is it bed time?' YES. LIKE IT HAS BEEN FOR TWO YEARS NOW!

And so on. You get the drift. I can't be the only one who's had this? The issue is, if I have a go, he gets incredibly prickly and can I address all this in the kindest, most constructive way rather than a counter productive nag?

defineme Mon 17-Feb-14 09:48:49

Go out a lot on your own-a lot of men learn better on their own without 'helpful' advice from watching wife.
Go to the gym every Saturday morning if you can't get away for a whole weekend.
Do not leave a list of what to do-he needs to work it out and they'll survive.

Suggest a technology free weekend.

Join him up to a parent and child activity -my dh takes my dd to wildlife club at local country park-they both enjoy it.

All go out as much as possible together-I assume he plays with them at the park-if not give him a football and tell him he must know how to kick a ball with them.

My friend's dh did claim he didn't know how to play, but they both worked and he did all the shopping and most of the cooking so he wasn't a shirker. He also ferried them to many activities and the kids appreciated him watching them. Now they're older he takes them to sports matches and the cinema so they share stuff.

TheGreatHunt Mon 17-Feb-14 11:46:54

Be specific. Tell him that at meals times, you want to model good manners so no wandering off mid meals.

When it comes to making meals, ask him or tell him he's in charge of making them.

This isn't about parenting - it is bigger than that I.e. how he engages with his family which sounds like not much!

stinkingbishop Mon 17-Feb-14 11:50:09

Sage laddies. Sage smile.

Slebmum Mon 17-Feb-14 13:26:23

Stinking - I could have written this. DH is much better at doing stuff with our DTs - taking to the park etc but really useless when it comes to playing indoors with them. He hides on his blackberry and it drives me insane.

He is also useless at what to give them to eat and what to dress them in. For example he has taken them to the allotment today to do some digging, in their best smart trousers. I'm at work and he sent me a pic and I really had to bite my tongue not to comment on the trousers.

He's a teacher and on half term this week so doing the childcare. This is the first time I haven't left a list of what they are having for lunch / dinner and am going to let him sort it out for himself and try really hard not to criticise what he does decide to feed them!

JoinYourPlayfellows Mon 17-Feb-14 13:29:36

How about instead of criticising his parenting, you criticise his laziness?

Then if he gets prickly you tell him to stop being a lazy shite and then there won't be a problem?

Also, agree with the advice to just take yourself off for hours the way he does, preferably without any agreement in advance.

cory Mon 17-Feb-14 15:40:32

The question you need to ask him is:

supposing you weren't good at it- what would happen then? Would the girls have to look after themselves? Or would you just have to get down to it regardless of how bad you felt at it? And if so, why are their different rules for you and him?

cory Mon 17-Feb-14 15:40:50

ouch, why are there different rules blush

UriGeller Mon 17-Feb-14 15:46:34

Its because you're there. Best thing I did was have a few days away. It was bloody difficult to arrange and I didn't enjoy it but while I was away he blossomed! He could do things his way without my expert eye following him critically. He really got to know the dcs and had to cope, which he did admirably. He was ok before but needed a lot of direction. Now we are really a team and he feels confident enough in childcare to take the lead.

littlebluedog12 Mon 17-Feb-14 15:58:44

First things first, when do you ever get a lie in? DH works v long hours, we still take it in turns to have a weekend lie in.

Secondly, you need to go away- ideally for a night, but maybe to start with just out for the day with a friend.

Thirdly, don't criticise the little things. If he gets them dressed in spots and stripes and odd socks then takes them to Mcdonalds it doesn't matter- let him find his own way and build up his confidence with them.

NaturalBaby Mon 17-Feb-14 16:07:31

Pointing out all his faults isn't going to help. He'll only start thinking about doing it differently if he feels it's a problem that needs fixing - talk to him about parenting and get him to tell you how he thinks things are going. If your twins are safe and well cared for then I'd leave him to it as much as possible to figure it out on his own.
I'm in a similar situation myself but the best thing to happen today was to send DH out with all our dc's to the adventure farm. They were all happy and safe and all I had to do was remind DH to give the dc's firm boundaries.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 17-Feb-14 16:18:54

Hello OP, much of what others say tbh.
It would worry me that he wasn't engaging in family life, not that he didn't play with the dc. He may be better at this when they are older, but unless he engages he will lose them eventually. They will become your dc and you and the dc will be the family with your dh gracing you with his presence at weekend.

I would arrange a weekend away with friends, or night out, day shopping etc and leave him to it.

stinkingbishop Mon 17-Feb-14 18:54:53

He's actually asked me to find a weekend activity he can take them off to, which is great, but I do want him to get down on his knees and bang away on the glockenspiel in the lounge too IYKWIM (and that isn't a euphemism...)

I think those who've said it's because I'm there have got it right. I have left him a few times eg to visit my son (his stepson) at Uni and he's got on with it (apart from when he's secretly arranged a babysitter to help out!!!) and nobody's died.

I think the modelling mealtime behaviour idea is a good one. And I'm going to try to broach the Crackberry example when I find a good moment.

Ah, life. Relationships. Families. OTHER PEOPLE'S FEELINGS. Grand, innit wink.

LondonForTheWeekend Mon 17-Feb-14 20:08:35

I think a no screens for anyone rule is a good one. Really really try to limit it.

Also Playful Parenting has some good thoughts about this, it might be worthwhile investing in a copy.

Misty9 Mon 17-Feb-14 20:58:08

I echo what everyone else has said, but also check out your local sure start sessions - ours does a me and dad session every other Saturday. Why does it have to be you who finds him an activity to do though?! Surely he can think of something like swimming etc?

stinkingbishop Mon 17-Feb-14 22:25:34

He's a bit limited by the whole twin thang eg he can't take two toddlers swimming on his own. Lots of things stipulate one child per adult. And obviously I'd love to go but that kinda defeats the point. I thought adncing would be good, but they need to be a bit surer on their feet first!

Misty9 Tue 18-Feb-14 08:17:13

Good point, hadn't thought about twin thing. Could a compromise be you have one twin each? Then meet for lunch and do something family in afternoon all together? Gym classes anywhere? Our local university does toddler gym in their gymnastics hall, it's brilliant smile

stinkingbishop Tue 18-Feb-14 09:03:58

misty that's actually a jolly good idea. Have been thinking we need to be treating them more as individuals anyway rather than just half a twins...Will suggest it! Thanks!

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