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Parenting conflict with dh

(132 Posts)
pebblepots Sun 28-Dec-14 00:48:57

I'm just hating the way my dh parents sometimes.

Our dd has just turned 3. Here are some examples of things that are upsetting me:

He was getting her ready for bed a few nights ago and she was lying the bed being uncooperative with putting her nappy on and kicking at him.

He ends up trying to force her to put it on, I went to up there and he was holding her upside down by her ankles to stop her kicking. I helped get things calmed down a bit and the nappy on, then retreat again (he gets annoyed when I interfere and 'undermine' him). He ends up smacking her as I think she kicks him again and leaving her crying for me to go up and sort out.

Tonight he was getting her ready for bed again and I can hear it escalating, she has hit him. I can hear him saying 'No bedtime story tonight' 'I'll shut you in the dark' 'you're being horrible' - this does not help, just escalates the situation more. He is berating her and going on and on, using language that she really won't understand.

She does not kick me when getting ready for bed and of course I don't think this is OK but it is the way dh deals with these things, it is just unpleasant and does not work.

He makes threats if she doesn't do as she is told straight away, such as coming to get shoes on as we are going out, 'right we will leave the house without you, we'll leave you here' which I disagree with as they are cruel, inflammatory (not to mention an empty threat) and just escalates the situation by upsetting her.

A few weeks ago he tried to do the naughty step technique with her, of course she would not stay on the step so he ends up holding her on the stairs while she cries and gets more and more worked up. He's probably hurting her by holding her down. He is determined to 'win' and make her apologise (I can't remember what she did now). I wait as long as I can but enough is enough and I go intervene.

So after tonight I am in the dog house and I dig out the Toddler calm book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith which I bought ages ago but haven't read much. This approach really fits with the type of parenting I do, but is so different to his. He expects me to 'back him up' with his parenting, and i try but I just can't if things are getting unreasonable in my opinion.

I said to him that it is worth a read but he just said 'not interested' and walked off.

I'm so sad he is treating our dd like this. He thinks she is naughty and needs sorting out. She is great but like all toddlers can be a pain at times but her behaviour is just typical toddler stuff, he just seemingly can't head it off or deal with it reasonably and goes into head to head confrontation. These examples are probably over the last couple of months, he does have lots of lovely calm and fun play times with her.

What do you think of this? I don't really know what to do, its so difficult to find a time when he'd be receptive to talking. Communications and respect are breaking down between us sadly.

heyday Sun 28-Dec-14 05:39:35

It can be incredibly hard to be a parent at times especially when a young child is really playing up and it's easy to lose it and to make pointless, idle threats. He sounds exasperated and very frustrated and Is slightly losing control. If he wants to do the naughty step approach then I suggest he watches some of Jo Frosts programmes. It is never the done thing to hold a child forcefully on the naughty step but to keep returning them to the step every single time they move from it. It's quite simple once it is done correctly but like all techniques it takes time to perfect.
Is there a positive parenting course you could both go on, don't single him out as the 'bad' parent. Sounds like he genuinely needs some real tips and strategies to deal with toddler behaviour at the moment.
You could try sitting down in a calmer moment and talk through how things could perhaps we done differently. Kids are great at knowing just how to push their parents to the limit and they are now engaged in a mini war with each other; with both of them losing. Rewards for good behaviour, such as a star chart may well work better than punishments for unwanted behaviour.

wallaby73 Sun 28-Dec-14 05:51:24

Darling, you should not have to "try" to back up parenting which frankly, is disgraceful at absolute best. No wonder she kicks him, wouldn't you?

Sounds to me like he feels he should be "in control" and wants to "win" at all costs. Unless he seriously reassesses his parenting, this cannot end well. You cannot afford to be meek, concilliatory or appeasing to him in this, or "leaving it" as long as you can when you can clearly hear a situation getting out of hand, for fear of upsetting him. Because, and i mean this in the kindest way, who is standing up as your child's protector when they are too nervous to challenge and immediately stop the treatment being doled out by the other parent?

Why should you back up utterly contemptable parenting? His ego is the player here , he may feel out of his depth, frustrated at seeing she is compliant for you but not for him, and sees it as a power struggle. I sense if he feels undermined, he will get nasty and throw his weight around. He's a bully, anyone who is hitting (yes, HITTING) a toddler....holding her upside down, pinning her to the stairs....this is abusive and your DD will be terrified.

Please don't come out with the MN classic of all bullied parents "dd adores him". So? Please just think how this behaviour is going to shape her over the coming years, with your husband's need for control, both of you scurrying round to appease him....

ArsenicStew Sun 28-Dec-14 06:14:49

You need to get your DD away from him. He will cause her horrible psychological harm. Leave.

BeakyMinder Sun 28-Dec-14 06:58:49

Oh ffs, she will not be irreparably harmed and how exactly will lawyers and divorce improve his parenting?!

OP I really don't like the sound of your Dh's parenting either - but no one responds well to perceived criticism in this situation. With our first DC we are usually so desperate to get it right that it's too easy to get defensive. I'm sure he is doing his best and he probably knows it isn't working- after all he can see she's behaving differently with you. I bet his parents were poor role models and he just doesn't know a better way to do it - it's hard if you've never been exposed to positive parenting. But the whole point about becoming a parent is learning to become confident and capable of taking responsibility, rather than just obeying someone else's orders, so I can sort of see why he is so resistant to advice, annoying though that is.

I think it's going to be hard and probably counterproductive to get him to change his ways directly. But it sounds like this is the time to work on your relationship. The first 2-3 years after your first DC puts a massive strain on relationships and many don't survive, precisely because situations like this escalate. Personally I would be seeking couples counselling urgently before it gets any worse - give him an ultimatum if you have to. If your relationship is sound you'll be able to overcome parenting differences, which are inevitable. You need a safe space to discuss this and whatever other issues exist (I bet there are others).

Good luck OP - I've been there, you can get through this!

ArsenicStew Sun 28-Dec-14 07:17:37

I'll shut you in the dark' 'you're being horrible'

Plus violence, aggression and general lack of empathy or responsiveness. And you don't think being exposed to that type of 'care' daily will be damaging Beaky? Rightiho.

What's worse she is learning that mum appears but can't really intervene or protect her.

Which might all be (partially) fixable if the OP's DP was willing to address it/change. He isn't.

BeakyMinder Sun 28-Dec-14 07:20:31

Right - her DP told you that himself did he Arsenic? hmm

ArsenicStew Sun 28-Dec-14 07:21:59

No I read the OP. Try it.

ohlittlepea Sun 28-Dec-14 07:26:39

Can you talk together with a health visitor or sure start behaviour worker? Maybe he could take advice from them rather than you. His comments are cruel and unnecessary. I wouldn't be letting him put her to bed if that's an escalation time. The comments are emotionally abusive and he needs to get over himself and start putting her first.

phoenixrose314 Sun 28-Dec-14 07:28:49

He is feeling frustrated and out of control. OP if he won't read the books, just process it yourself and TELL him. Yes it might damage your relationship but frankly I see your daughter being the most damaged out of all of this.

Tell him empty threats won't work because one day she'll call his bluff and then basically never believe a thing he says.

Mehitabel6 Sun 28-Dec-14 07:34:37

I would suggest parenting classes together- they are very useful.

Fairylea Sun 28-Dec-14 07:45:39

For me anyone who laid a finger on my child would be out the door, father or not. I totally disagree with smacking and could not be with someone who used it as a parenting technique yet alone the other threats and psychological abuse. I would go to a solicitor and apply for supervised contact only. That sort of behaviour is very damaging to a child, no wonder she is lashing out and kicking him. She's defending herself.

Balanced12 Sun 28-Dec-14 08:26:55

I have on occasion dealt with the same especially about 'winning' . Tackled with general discussion, they are young and need consistency / reiteration. If we get frustrated they have 'won' sometimes best to match language. You can not say anything you won't follow through etc.

I found a they are adults in training talk went well, how will they get on in life if we don't behave how we will want them too.

It's hard, I don't undermine OH threats but I do pull them up later, you can't allow children to play you off against each other.

You will get there sounds like a honest we need to align talk is needed. I'm the soft one but he is the fun one.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 28-Dec-14 08:35:48

Sorry, but smacking means you lose. Every time.

Teaching someone not to be violent by being violent - does that really ever work?

He needs to learn some different techniques if you don't want a damaged child.

heyday Sun 28-Dec-14 09:31:12

Beaky you have spoken some wise words. This is s father who loves his daughter but is not doing well at managing his child's difficult behaviour.
He just needs to be taught better techniques somehow.
obviously it needs addressing as soon as possible but some people's reactions are so utterly over the top.
We do not get a guidance manual or training course on parenting when our children are born so we generally get lots of things wrong and have to wade our way through parenting. We all get it wrong at times.
Finding a parenting course, perhaps at nursery or local SureStart Centre is a way positive way to start addressing this issue before it escalates further.

pebblepots Sun 28-Dec-14 11:39:15

Thank you all for taking the time to make such thoughtful replies, I am reading and re-reading to plan my approach. Beaky, yes I think he has not been the recipient of positive parenting and does not seem to know what to do, hence the sledge hammer to crack a nut approach. Thanks for the insightful post, yes other things need working on too.

Heyday, good idea about not making him the 'bad' parent, I will suggest we both go on a parenting course, I would love him to agree to that. We have tried to discuss strategy between us but it is like we are talking a different language and there is too much that needs improving for me to be able to tackle it piecemeal. He is low on empathy in other situations too sadly.

Wallaby, thanks for telling me I am not being unreasonable by butting in. I so want to do it earlier as my mothering instincts are screaming at me to act, I know this will bring things to a head, but so be it. Yy to the 'scurrying' I am on egg shells.

Have to go out now, so sorry for not responding to you all yet, I am very grateful and have read and absorbed all replies

phoenixrose314 Sun 28-Dec-14 12:27:29

Triple P is a really good and useful positive parenting course provided by a lot of Sure Start centres if you have them in your area. I did it as part of my staff training (I'm an early years teacher) but I was pregnant at the time and it has formed a lot of how I parent my son.

The good side of doing it is that there were videos of parenting choices, both good and bad, and written examples for you all to discuss and go through step by step what choices to make and what will either escalate or diffuse the situation. It is a good idea, I only didn't suggest it because your DH seemed as though he wasn't open to changing his parenting tactics - but as others have said, if you suggest it for the both of you, "so we're working from the same page", it could work well.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

pebblepots Tue 30-Dec-14 07:46:00

For the last couple of nights I've done bedtime to avoid this flash point. She has been kicking and hitting at me, probably as a residual effect from the previous night with dh. I think it will settle down but it has given me an insight into how infuriating it is.

We both have the afternoon off work today and dd is at childminders, so I'm going to try to get him out the house for a walk and talk.

I still have no idea how to approach this, he is so pricky and everything I say seems to be wrong and he takes offence.

My aim is to get him to agree to parenting classes. So my approach is: things are a bit tricky ATM, we need some strategies and to align more so we are both on the same page, let's do this parenting class.

If that fails I have to bring out the heavy guns: the way things are going is going to damage your relationship with dd. List all the things that are unacceptable??

Unfortunately we went to relate many years ago and it seemed to turn into a big moaning session. We did get given some communication strategies, like a weekly catch up, but he just gets defensive, I don't think he'd go again.

BeakyMinder Tue 30-Dec-14 13:54:49

It sounds tough Pebble. I'm not going to tell you what to do - only you know how your DH is likely to respond to this strategy. I think it's brilliant you're thinking so carefully about it - you both owe it to your DD to improve communication. It sounds like Relate wasn't that helpful in retrospect?

I think you're struggling with the hardest of all conflicts here, balancing the need to protect your DD with the need to protect your relationship with her dad, and of course it is right to put young and vulnerable DC first.

But the fact is that no one changes unless they want to, no matter how much anyone else tells them - in fact some people just become more determined not to change! He can argue with your opinions on his parenting, and unfortunately it is his prerogative to raise a child that hates him - bottom line is that it's their relationship, not yours, hard though this is to accept.

Do you think it might be possible to try to get through to him by taking your DD out of the equation temporarily? He surely can't argue with your feelings about the relationship between you and him, which you've expressed so well here. Could you tell him about your motherly instincts screaming at you, the sense of walking on eggshells, the fear of respect breaking down? Honestly express concerns about the relationship and try to get him to accept that the two of you need a reset somehow?

pebblepots Tue 30-Dec-14 18:48:36

Beaky, I am just sat here thinking your suggestion through. Yes we need a reset, supreme effort needed. There has been much effort put in over the years and it is still hard work, he now can seem impatient, unapproachable and defensive.

I didn't get to talk to him this afternoon, he started doing a diy project. Now I'm not sure whether to just start making the effort myself and hope he follows suit or 'have a talk'. I don't really know how to start a discussion

Millie3030 Tue 30-Dec-14 19:22:50

Hi OP, Have you watched things like super nanny together? Sometimes I put it on with my DH and then say 'blimey what would you do?' Or 'what do you think about that?' I also have a few toddler/behaviour books and occasionally read a techniques out to start a discussion.

It sounds like you have very different techniques with dealing with you DS, so you need to try and meet in the middle somewhere. It's not going to happen when you have just dealt with a tantrum or been kicked as tempers are a bit fraught, he also may feel like you have endless patience and he is struggling, I know my DH does.

I have to bite my lip a lot when my DH does things with my DS, it's like he does things the hard or difficult way and can see my DH getting frustrated. Bedtime is also a lot calmer when I do it, but I still let my DH do it otherwise I would do it every night.

Could you say your DD threw a wobbly at you today, or kicked you and you want to find a behaviour/discipline that you can both use so there is consistency? Like "I'm going to watch super nanny to see how to use the naughty step". Supernanny will probably talk about smacking on the show and then don't say anything and let him see a professional do the talking.

iammargesimpson Tue 30-Dec-14 19:28:14

Op, myself and my dh have been through very similar situations with our two DC. We have very different parenting ideas, he thinks hours on the play station is ok for them if he is on his own with them, whereas I don't! It was really at its worst when our second ds was a toddler, he was very different to his older brother in that he was very wilful and would push the boundaries a lot more. There were several screaming rows where I would intervene a situation that I thought was getting out of control between them. Heartbreaking stuff.

It did break down our relationship and we lost respect for each other for a long time until one day I just told him I couldn't do it any more. He hadn't a clue I was so unhappy about the whole situation and readily agreed to go to counselling. It did help but as anyone knows, it's not a quick fix. We go for walks when he is off work and the kids are at school and for coffee once a week, it's time for us to reconnect and talk about stuff, and to work out strategies for when the kids start kicking off when they're tired, etc. he has learnt to ask for help when he feels overwhelmed by a tantrumming child and I have learnt to bite my tongue. I went on a parenting course as well and went through the notes with him.

Bottom line is you need to talk to him and parent together, it's not always easy but it can be done.
Best of luck x

drudgetrudy Tue 30-Dec-14 19:31:35

Read the thread about the 11 year old who feels bullied by his Dad-everyone is telling the mother to leave. Your husband is trying to bully a 3 year old-I think this needs to be tackled before this mindset of having to "win" becomes set.
Try to talk to him when you are not in the middle of a confrontation. I hope he will listen.
I would start the discussion quite directly-praise what he does well then tell him what is concerning you.

Quitethewoodsman Tue 30-Dec-14 19:31:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pebblepots Tue 30-Dec-14 21:48:40

Well that went as expected, fairly crap.

I think I gave him every opportunity to be reasonable, went with 'things are a bit tricky atm, we need to be on the same page, could do with a few tips' etc.

He said 'There is no way he is going on a parenting course, if I want to go I can and tell him what strategies we are going to use'. Basically he wants to be able to make it all my responsibility, says she will either turn into a model citizen or a complete brat. I said no, probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, apparently not. He always exaggerates things!

He was mega grumpy, apparently I am being argumentative and trying to cause a big arguement. All my fault for not laying down the law earlier, being permissive, wanting to do it all my own way etc (well no, I just don't want you being unkind to dd) He is such an arse. It would be really nice to be able to have a reasonable discussion with a dh angry

I will go on the parenting course, Toddlercalm, and try to feed back strategies to him but he is going to miss a lot by not attending himself. There is no step by step 'method' to follow religiously, it's more fluid than that. Ultimately we may grow even further apart in parenting styles.

I brought up the incidents I mentioned in my op and said I will not stand by if anything like that happens again. He agrees it won't as he will 'leave me to deal with anything'. So really he is abdicating responsibility rather than looking at his methods.

Well I had to try that, at least I know where we stand with that. Next step I suppose is addressing our relationship, though I am not sure I like him very much atm, his attitude stinks.

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