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Effect of destructive man on child - info?

(57 Posts)
TigersEyeNarrowed Thu 02-Jul-15 10:06:15


Please could you help me find some online information on this, I can't seem to find the right sort of thing.

By way of brief background (I can't possible include everything in my OP & haven't decided if I am ready to divulge details. I may later so please do not accuse me of drip-feeding, it is somewhat inevitable).

I have been working through Lundy Bancroft's book 'Should I Stay or Should I Go', it has been illuminating to say the least & has finally enabled me to put my finger on what is wrong with my marriage. My DH is the 'perfect storm' of immaturity, addictions (alcohol, gambling, gaming, cigarettes, porn), mental health issues (I suspect the addictions anesthetize him from facing the effects of the chaotic, neglectful & traumatic childhood he had); and some abusive vales, his compass is off. To be clear, he is not physically abusive but has some very strange values on punishment/discipline of children, I think due to his childhood when fear & the threat of the belt reigned.

I am in the process of writing the letter to my DH detailing all the ways his behaviour has been damaging.

There are some things my DD does that I know can be perfectly normal development stuff, but I am now wondering, how she is being affected by his behaviour - this is where I need some help - I would like to do some reading on the effects of living with a father with destructive personality is known to have on a child to see if anything matches up.

One of the things DD does is talking a lot in a baby voice. She also tells me she doesn't like him & he is scary. (Tricky to know how much to read into this as she also says I am scaring her when I use my 'very stern' voice).

Going out now, but back later.


buttonmoonboots Thu 02-Jul-15 10:35:20

I was your DD in this situation and my mum didn't hear me. I'm glad you're trying to look at what's going on.

It's fairly unusual for a younger child to say they don't like a parent.

OP I know this is a tricky place to be in but I'm concerned you'll look for signs she's being damaged and, if you DON'T see them, make decisions based on that. My DM did the same; in her case she was unable to recognise the signs that were in front of her.

This book is meant to be good:

It's about the effect father's have on their kids. I think it might be more useful than a tick box list.

Handywoman Thu 02-Jul-15 10:49:19

Well for for reading the book. My best recommendation to you, OP, is to get this man out of your life first. I speak from experience here. You can't really process these relationships fully until you are out, because at present you are in the FOG of abuse. To try and understand it is further minimisation, a perptuation of the dynamic that keeps you in this relationship. When you are out it will become clear, because your daughter will be happier. And this will help you to see it clearly. It's all you need to know.

If you had a child with a horrible illness would you read around it or would you just say 'yes' to the cure?

Don't waste time trying to understand the harm. It's enough to know that it's there, surely.

I mean this in all kindness, OP.

SophieJenkins Thu 02-Jul-15 10:52:39

I too can understand what you are doing but the point is surely to remove him from the situation where he is causing the damage?

I hope you are not doing this in the hope that he will change, because that's really unlikely to happen.

He doesn't need to understand how he is damaging her either. He just needs to be stopped from doing it.

SophieJenkins Thu 02-Jul-15 10:53:05

I mean you owe him nothing. You don't need to justify anything to him.

Twinklestein Thu 02-Jul-15 11:14:11

The Children's Act recognises the damage to children who are exposed to an abusive relationship, even when the abuse is not directed at them.

There are books on the impact of domestic abuse and addictions on children, have a look on Amazon.

One is 'Freedom's Flowers: the effects of domestic abuse on children' by Pat Craven.

Another is 'Children of Alcoholics' by Claudia Black.

What are his views on the punishment and discipline of children?

I have to be honest OP, the letter won't achieve anything apart from making him angry. No-one likes being confronted with their faults, let alone abusive men. You see the to think he will be open to reason and discussion. He won't.

I agree with pps, you've figured out what the problem is, so the next step is to get your daughter away from him, rather than trying to get him to see the error of his ways.

cestlavielife Thu 02-Jul-15 11:26:37

why are you going to write to him? what do you think that will achieve? is he going to change because you write to him?

it is good to write it all down for yourself but sending him a letter will change nothing. unless he has asked you to do this with a view to addressing each one... if he doesn't want to change he wont. he has addictions you say what is he doing about addressing those?

if he doesn't change and apologize when you call him up when ever he does something then he is not going to respond to a list of faults...

why are you staying with someone who has a string of addictions and who scares your child?

Twinklestein Thu 02-Jul-15 11:30:43

You see the to think he will be open to reason and discussion.

You seem to think...I meant.

cestlavielife Thu 02-Jul-15 11:31:03

there is plenty of research -every single one of your h's addictions plus his MH (if it si not being addressed) plus his shouting etc is impacting on your child and has repercussions for their own MH and well being in alter life.

Address it now before it is too late.

pocketsaviour Thu 02-Jul-15 11:31:13

OP, just look at what you wrote:
I suspect the addictions anesthetize him from facing the effects of the chaotic, neglectful & traumatic childhood he had

There's your proof that kids are affected, right there. You're now living with the after-effects of the shitty, sad upbringing your H had.

Sadly I agree with PPs; he's not going to change just because you write him a letter. It will probably make things worse. If you are going to send it, I would make sure you and your DD are in a place of safety first.

Hairtodaygonetomorrow Thu 02-Jul-15 11:36:51

You are not sure how to read a little girl saying she's scared of him and doesn't like him? I would take it at face value.

I might have a shouty voice and be temporarily a bit noisy, but I have checked with my children they are not scared of me.

She says she doesn't like him. That's a pretty awful damning indictment of her feelings on the matter.

I don't know the book, but I agree with everyone, keep yourself safe, he sounds somewhat volatile and I don't like the idea of these punishments (sound horrific to me, but I don't really know what you are getting at). I really don't think a letter will change him, it may be better to leave and keep you and your dd safe, if (and most don't) he then makes changes, you can always return.

TigersEyeNarrowed Thu 02-Jul-15 12:11:14

Thanks for the responses & suggestions of reading. To answer some of the questions...

I am currently going through the process of removing myself from the FOG, I have detached from him to the point where I am able to do this and I am becoming very angry at the way we have been treated. New things are dawning on me all the time, for example I feel anxious & on egg shells with him & his moods, it dawned on me if I feel that, so too would my DD.

His 'off' discipline - One time he tried to implement the naughty step, but pinning her on the step while she fights tooth & nail, screaming 'mummy', it was horrific. (I am not supposed to interfere).

This week he told me we should have smacked her once very hard at an earlier age to instil the fear of it happening again & thus use that fear to control any undesirable behaviour. He has learned this from his childhood & was passing it on as sage advise. Before we had children he expressed no such opinion. He says it is 'too late' now (phew) but...

His expectations of 3 yo behaviour is not realistic imo.

He watched porn on his phone with her present in the room.

He indulges his addictions to check out of family life, he cannot cope with everyday stresses (job, parenting, watching the news, outings, eating a family meal, holidays) without getting stressed/furious & making us all miserable. The sucks the joy out of life.

I have been on anti-anxiety medication since DD's birth & I am starting to think I can't get off them because of him. He is not emotionally supportive of me in times of need at all. e.g. he refused to stop drinking at my due date (he had previously agreed to this), so he would be able to drive me to the hospital & be sober to be a birth partner & deal with any medical decisions. He said he was not going to as I was trying to control him. He used this time when I was vulnerable to make a point and I feel hugely betrayed. Really the list is endless. I realise this is not the obvious & dreadfully sad - 'being beaten up & called vile names' situation we often hear about on MN which is why it has been so hard for me to understand what is happening over the years. I have often thought it is my fault and tried to put things right as you might with a relatively normal partner.

I am writing the letter because it is part of the process the Lundy book suggests. It is an intervention, no holds barred. If he gets angry, so be it, that will tell me something. I have told him that I am near the end with this relationship. This has shaken him up, he has admitted he is an alcoholic & is going to get professional help. He is says he is deeply ashamed. However I am becoming aware just how many problems there are that I doubt he can change enough, quickly enough for me.

But now I am in a bind, the same one all women leaving destructive men are in. If I leave him, my DD has him out of her life for the majority of the time and a safe place at our home (it will certainly be my intention regarding access that she is resident with me for the majority of the time). However, he will have contact with her, and I will not be present - do people see this when they say 'just leave'? So I am currently thinking that it is still worth me going through this process of calling him out on his behaviour and giving him the opportunity to address it & start to make changes, for my DD's sake.

I am aware how difficult change is, so even if he only moves a small way or I help him to be more aware of his behaviour that may bring some benefit for my DD.

Nevergoingtolearn Thu 02-Jul-15 12:17:40

Read your OP, if you were reading it as a outsider how would you answer?

A few months ago I made the decision to leave my dh, it took me several years to finally do it, he suffered from mental health issues, liked to gamble and was not a great father, the atmosphere in our home was terrible and my dc's were effected, I don't think I realised how effected they were until he actually moved out, they change in their behaviour is huge, they are more relaxed and happier, I don't know why I waited so long to finally end it, like you I looked for solutions to fix things, sadly there was no fix other than ending it.

TigersEyeNarrowed Thu 02-Jul-15 12:21:52

Sorry, cross posts while I wrote my enormous post.

pocketsaviour gosh yes, you are right, eye opener - thank you, and so the circle completes.

It is desperately sad the upbringing he had, I did not fully see the significance until I asked him all about it earlier this week & put it together with what I had learned from the Lundy book. My heart breaks for the little boy he was sad but then I have to deal with the man he is and tell myself that he chooses to act the way he does not & not address his issues in a constructive way, and it (has to) harden again.

Please don't worry, we are safe , he is not physically violent & we are well supported with close family, I do not have any reservations about confronting him, that is not his style.

TigersEyeNarrowed Thu 02-Jul-15 12:23:32

Nevergoingtolearn please could you expand on the ways they were affected? How do you deal with contact with their father?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 02-Jul-15 12:25:30


Re your comment:-

"But now I am in a bind, the same one all women leaving destructive men are in. If I leave him, my DD has him out of her life for the majority of the time and a safe place at our home (it will certainly be my intention regarding access that she is resident with me for the majority of the time). However, he will have contact with her, and I will not be present - do people see this when they say 'just leave'?"

Will he have any contact though; how do you know he will want to have any unsupervised contact at all going forward. What if any legal advice have you taken on such a matter?. If none then this is all supposition on your part.

Such selfish and entitled men more often than not use the children to get back at their mother. You would never be able to do any informal arrangement with him either; any contact would have to be formalised through the courts. I doubt very much that he would receive any great length of time in terms of contact let alone unsupervised. Your DD also does not like him very much anyway; her views should be taken into consideration as well.

I also think that you will only free yourself from the FOG when you are truly free of him in terms of separation. Then you will perhaps look back and wonder why on earth you stayed as long as you did. He is the root cause of your low state now.

Re this comment:-
"So I am currently thinking that it is still worth me going through this process of calling him out on his behaviour and giving him the opportunity to address it & start to make changes, for my DD's sake"

You will come to realise that there is no point in trying to engage at all with him via any means. He has had likely more than enough opportunity and years to address this and he simply does not want to. Being around him at all further damages you and your child; being at all around him is that toxic for you both.

This is also the sunken costs fallacy here and its causing you to make poor relationship decisions. You forget here that the damage has already been done. Your DD is also not the glue that binds you and this man together.

What do you want to teach your child about relationships here; surely not this abusive role model of one for her to potentially replicate herself as an adult.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Thu 02-Jul-15 12:30:24

Please get him out of your life OP. I speak from experience.

I think your dad is speaking like a baby because babies don't get told off or disciplined ( in her eyes) so she's avoiding his attention.

I wish my mum had listened to my sister and me.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Thu 02-Jul-15 12:31:57

Don't give him any chances to change, he's already shown you what sort of man he is.

Twinklestein Thu 02-Jul-15 12:33:47

OP the situation sounds quite bad enough.

I agree you're right to be concerned about him parenting alone.

You need go talk a solicitor about this. Ring Women's Aid as they will be able to recommend solicitors who specialise in abuse in your area.

Ideally what you want is for his contact to be supervised. To do that you need to flag the abuse.

I would talk to your GP. Have you told them of the abuse? Do they know that that's partly (perhaps even wholly) responsible for your anxiety? It's important that you detail his behaviour, its impact on you and your daughter. And specifically your concerns about his parenting abilities - the inappropriate aggression, the watching porn in the same room. The latter qualifies as sexual abuse.

You also need to talk to SS. They will be on your side - and they will support you to protect yourself and your daughter away from your husband. They will do risk assessment and talk to your husband.

These two factors are really important as you need corroboration of his poor parenting and it will help you in the divorce process to try to get his contact supervised.

Also, if you have reported the abuse, this may also help you qualify for legal aid, if necessary.

PatriciaHolm Thu 02-Jul-15 12:34:08

"Please don't worry, we are safe , he is not physically violent"

Yes, he is - he pinned your daughter with force to a step. That's violence, violence isn't just slapping you round the head. He also wishes he'd hit her "very hard" whens she was little. He may not be physical violent a lot, but he certainly doesn't think there is anything wrong with it, does he?

No letter is going to suddenly make him wake up and go, "oh yes, now you have found some academic research I can get over my abusive childhood and we'll all move on!" is it? Writing it down might help you in the process of getting through the FOG, I can see that, but it's part of the process of separating yourself and your child from him, not part of trying to mend the relationship.

AnyFucker Thu 02-Jul-15 12:38:34

How long were you planning to observe the damaging effects on your dd before you deem it bad enough to remove both of you from his 24/7 toxic influence ?

molyholy Thu 02-Jul-15 12:39:46

My DH is the 'perfect storm' of immaturity, addictions (alcohol, gambling, gaming, cigarettes, porn)

He watched porn on his phone with her present in the room

I doubt he would get unsupervised access to your poor DD if she is scared of him and you tell the courts the above.

You have GOT to get away from this man. Would you want your DD ending up with a partner like this? This is what you are showing her is the norm.

Handywoman Thu 02-Jul-15 12:49:48

TigersEye please don't let this be your dayghter's template for relationships. You owe her that at least.

If you don't have support from friends/family or resources, then please contact children's services who will help you get out. Or call Women's Aid. But please don't just read a book or write a letter.

Handywoman Thu 02-Jul-15 12:55:42

Btw I was on antidepressants after years with my awful ex. When I eventually left him, and after things settled down, I was able to come off them.

buttonmoonboots Thu 02-Jul-15 13:21:46

I was restrained in my last response.

I'm not going to be now.

Leave. Don't use the fear of post-split contact as a reason not to.

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