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DH loses his temper with DS, and I feel caught in the middle (long)

(15 Posts)
thebecster Thu 23-Aug-07 14:43:37

DS is 14 mths. DH is usually brilliant with him, plays with him, loves him to bits. But now that DS is moving into the toddler stage with some of his behaviour, DH loses his temper really quickly. In the past few weeks he has smacked DS twice, although I am VERY anti-smacking, which he knows and agreed to before we had DS that we would never smack. Both times I believed that l that DH was smacking because of how angry he was rather than because it was a parenting strategy and we had a row about it both times. We talk about it, but it ends up being confrontational - DH saying I'm too soft on DS, and makes it clear that he thinks it's me who (quote) 'just sits there doing nothing while he tears the place apart' - but I don't think there's any point doing anything other than distraction, 'no', and in very strong cases, a 1 minute time out eg for biting repeatedly after being told 'no', and most of the time I genuinely believe that the best thing to do is ignore it & remain calm. It's stressing me out - I'm trying to make everyone happy and I can't... It also makes me sad because my parents used to hit me in anger, which is why I'm so anti-smacking. I feel like I'm not protecting DS enough, but DH is nothing like my Dad... I just feel so conflicted, and there is this undercurrent in my relationship with DH now. eg yesterday he said 'You're so much better with him than I am, I just get so angry' which was plainly a peace offering. And I replied 'Yes, I heard you call him a 'little bastard' yesterday when he threw the Calpol at you. Just remember where he heard that word when he comes out with it at nursery.' Urg, what a mess. Is this just me?

magsi Thu 23-Aug-07 14:52:01

No, its not just you. My DH quickly snaps aswell and gets angry. He will grit his teeth at them sometimes and it makes them flinch. He will hardly ever smack, but the way he shouts sometimes, he doesn't need to . We have three and sometimes you are driven to the edge by all the constant fighting etc, but my problem is I think he is way too hard on them a lot of the time. Its the way he 'barks' at them that scares them to death. I always tell him to calm down and he will turn this round and say 'but what about you etc.'. We all shout at our kids, but I am really aware that it doesn't do much so don't bother most of the time. I just don't want them to remember their daddy as someone who shouted so much at them. Its really hard to talk to them about it because its like you are finding fault' with their parenting (which I spose you are). Sometimes I just wish I married a 'calmer daddy' .

thebecster Thu 23-Aug-07 15:00:08

Thank you magsi, good to know I'm not alone. That's just it - it sounds like I'm picking holes in his parenting, which I really don't want to do. And actually I do think there are lots of things he's better at than me (he's fantastic at physical play, and at finding/making beautiful things to entertain DS). It's just when DS is being a... well, a bit of a little sod, if I'm honest, then DH just doesn't have any patience. I dunno, maybe we balance each other out... But it really makes me feel awful when DH is shouting. DS gets over it within minutes, but I cry and cry...

magsi Thu 23-Aug-07 15:06:53

I take comfort in the fact that we do 'balance each other out'. My DH is also good at 'rough 'n' tumble' etc and we do both bring the right qualities to the kids. I have resounded to the fact that I am just constantly going to have to 'pull him back' and say calm down all of the time. he is a very long way off being violent in any way, I just think he's too heavy handed (in the shouting way). I think we have to keep on top of it though, the minute you don't 'pull' them for it, they won't realise how they have been and will not do anything about it. Hey ho.

mixedmama Thu 23-Aug-07 16:21:56

Just wanted to say that my DH is like this also. He thinks I am too soft and saying no doesnt actually achieve anything. But when i see Ds's little face when daddy shouts at him he looks so upset.

DH does woork incredibly long hours and is very stressed but we do need to reach some balance.

Just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

thebecster Thu 23-Aug-07 17:03:21

thanks mixedmama and magsi - feel much better now, knowing that I'm not alone in doing this balancing act!

Nat1H Thu 23-Aug-07 20:16:46

My DH doesn't usually smack our kids but once he did. DS2 has CP and understanding problems, and DH was putting his splints and shoes on one day. DS2 kept kicking DH, and DH (tired and stressed anyway) smacked him. Really hard. You know how people smack as they tell kids off - with each syllable - that's what he did. DS1 (who was watching) burst into tears before DS2. I was in shock and scooped DS2 out of the way. I had never seen DH react in this way before, but later rang him at work and said (in no uncertain terms) that if he EVER hit either of my children like that again, he would never see any of us again. I wish I had walked out there and then.

BecauseImWorthIt Thu 23-Aug-07 20:26:44

thebecster - unfortunately you're finding out the hard way that there's a world of difference between what we say we'll do as parents and what we then actually do

We all strive to parent perfectly, but we're none of us perfect.

All you can do is keep talking to your dh about it, but try to do it in a way that is critical - he obviously knows (and probably feels guilty about it) that he was wrong.

It's definitely not just you!

BecauseImWorthIt Thu 23-Aug-07 20:27:13

whoops - that is not critical, obviously!!!

Grapes2 Sat 25-Aug-07 22:58:51

You are definitely not alone. My DS is now 5, and my husband and I still fall out over the agression I feel he uses when DS being challenging. It is as though he forgets ds is just a child- he seems to react as though ds were an adult who is personally affronting him, rather than, for example, an overtired child who is just avoiding going to bed. Strangley enough- my dd, nearly 2, who is much easier anyway, never really gets the cross words from him. But DH definitely thinks I am too soft, and that DS should just do as he is told. As a result, despite the fact that my DH does loads of really lovely things for son; e.g. takes him swimming, makes models with him, etc. DS always says that he doesn't love him as much. I worry that it will affect how he views men and himself. sad It makes me want to cry too- but as a family, as DS gets older and in many ways easier, we are getting better at talking about it afterwards. Afterall DS is also to blame- he knows just how to wind up his daddy. It is just that I am better at seeing and defusing an explosion before it happens. Why on earth can't DH learn from me!!!!!
I have even thought about trying to seek counselling for us- not because I think our marriage is in danger- but because we can't really talk about it very well and the behaviour pattern keeps repeating every so often. When DS and DH are having a bad time together it also really ignites my temper! I want to protect my son from it. It makes me so angry with my DH- not a good recipe for marriage! Has anyone else out there found ways of avoiding conflict and staying united as a parenting couple?

magsi Sat 25-Aug-07 23:06:48

Do you know Grapes2, one sentence of your post really stuck out to me "not a good receipe for marriage". I think in my six years of marriage and all the trials and disagreements we have had (not that many actually but...), this problem with dh's anger towards our kids is the most serious in the fact that it has made me question what type of man have I married, how about you?

Grapes2 Sun 26-Aug-07 16:09:58

Yes Magsi- exactly. What is more, one of the reasons that I fell for my DH is because he was always so kind and thoughtful towards me- and others. For example, (pre children of our own), he helped a women struggling with a pushchair going down steps on the underground. (I hadn't even noticed her). It wasn't an act for my benifit- he is still the same. He really IS kind. I think he is actually being protective of me in some ways when he gets cross with DS; because he doesn't think I deserve such behaviour. But it comes across to our son that his daddy just doen't really love him as much. (And to my husband it comes across as I don't love him as much as DS!) In a way it is also a conflict of political stance- I am liberal, and rather "independent women/ wilful" in tendency, and he is conservative (small c). Pre-children you don't notice these things. Who knew family life and human nature could be is complex! Or that our backgrounds play such a huge role in our rearing of children. Hmm.... me thinks a trip to the councellor might be in order!

EscapeFrom Sun 26-Aug-07 16:32:13

Nothing a baby does deserves a smack. What will he be doing by the time your ds is 4? Birching him?

There's nowhere to go after a smack, and if your husband is smacking a pre-verbal infant, and calling him a little bastard, it will escalate to abuse before that child reaches five - unless you do something to stop him. Don't tell him all about how upset you are, tell him if he hits your baby again you are going to call Women's Aid and tell them you have to get your baby away from a man who hits him.

Grapes2 Sun 26-Aug-07 17:06:18

thebecster- I don't want to get into the smacking debate- it's wrong, but parents do lose it sometimes. Words are just as powerful too. Have you thought of talking to your heath visitor- I know some are useless- but one in my area was good- and they do sometimes run parenting classes for both parents. Sometimes men don't realise how "normal" their child's behaviour is because they don't see other children of the same age or speak to other parents about it as we mums do.

Grapes2 Sun 26-Aug-07 17:26:46

Hmm... re-reading my posting, I am not sure that I put what I wanted to say very well! I am not excusing smacking- just saying that harsh words, tones, looks etc. are just as bad. PS I too was smacked as a child- not loads, and, only by my mum, not dad. Funny- can't ever really remember why I was smacked- but it was definitely an on the spot, cross reaction from my mother. She actually smacked my DS once, just after DD born, when he refused to wash his hands after going to the toilet. (I threw her out of my home, but she was unrepentant). However she hasn't done it since and my DS and her actually get along really well. (I don't always- but then that is nothing new). He knows she shouldn't have done it, and he talks about the incident with great interest. Funnily enough- my son is extremely hygienic normally- it was definitely an attention thing from him at that time.

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