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H vs DCs - what should I have done?

(40 Posts)
AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 10:54:52

Have NC as the details are quite identifying. I don’t know whether I am in the wrong or not, or how to handle this for the best, so would appreciate the opinion of the MN jury. Apologies for the tedious detail, but it is relevant.

In a nutshell, H is a rather entitled, self-absorbed workaholic who is disengaged from domestic life unless it suits him. This is coupled with low-level EA behaviour directed at me, mainly in the form of verbal putdowns and attempts at manipulation.

We both work ft in similar professional fields but he considers his job to be more important than mine and so doesn’t pull his weight on the domestic front (understatement). One of the few things he has agreed to do is 3 of the 10 school runs a week with DC1 (9) and DC2 (5).

We both work near the school, and have two options for the school run. One is a train journey followed by a short bus trip, the other is two tube journeys. I prefer the first way as the train and bus are rarely overcrowded so it is a more pleasant journey, usualy get seats etc. H prefers the tube journey because he thinks it is quicker (debatable). The DCs hate the tube journey as the second leg is always extremely overcrowded and unpleasant (crossing central London in peak hour). They also say that they dislike H taking them to school as he is always cross with them, pulls them by the arm along corridors and on stairs etc. H dismisses their complaints by saying they should behave better during the journey (which to be fair is probably true) and that there is no choice about the journey because he wants to get to work as quickly as possible.

H usually takes them to school on a Friday as I often work from home that day. Today both DCs were begging me to take them to school by train, instead of H taking them by tube. I had to go into work today anyway so I caved and agreed to take them. Cue unpleasant snarly comments from H about me undermining him and that, given that it was “his” day I should “do what every normal parent does” and stick to that.

I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, maybe H is right and I should stay out of it entirely and let him do as he pleases when he does the school run, even if it makes the DCs unhappy. On the other hand, it really doesn’t feel right to completely ignore the DCs point of view and tell them they have to put up with the way H behaves. I worry that if they don’t feel listened to, they will just resent me for not standing up for them.

So what was the right thing to do in this scenario? Should I have listened to the DCs, or to H?

TheCarpenter Fri 20-Nov-15 11:00:15

Listen to your children.

You describe your DH as low level EA which is directed at you. Why allow an EA man to make your children unhappy?

(And I know you didn't ask this, but why let him make you unhappy by being abusive?) Stand up for you too, not just your children. You're worth standing up for too.

LilaTheTiger Fri 20-Nov-15 11:00:56

He doesn't sound very nice.

I'd rather take my kids to school and know they were safe rather than arm pulled through corridors.

But then I'd rather be single that put up with the crap you are.

Why are you?

Jackie0 Fri 20-Nov-15 11:06:00

I think you have bigger issues than how to handle the school run .
Your dh is a rubbish partner and farther , what are you planning to do about that?

AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 11:07:08

Why allow an EA man to make your children unhappy?

I'd rather take my kids to school and know they were safe

Thank you both - this is is exactly my take on it. Until H weighs in and tries to make me think I'm being unreasonable.

I do stand up for myself, much more than I used to. I would also rather be single than put up with this, but unfortunately atm separation would cause more problems than it would solve. Am working on it though.

And if we were separated, he'd just behave like this towards the DCs without me there to tell him not to.sad

AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 11:08:56

JackieO - yes, I am aware that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Alanna1 Fri 20-Nov-15 11:11:01

OP, how horribly hard, but your description of your husband concerns me - he shouldn't be pulling grown children around like that (or young children, for that matter). Parents also should listen to and respect their children's choices within reason - but an extra 10 minutes journey is one of those areas, I think. Do you have the money to suggest some family therapy to help him "understand" his issues? It would also help your position if in due course you did separate...

LilaTheTiger Fri 20-Nov-15 11:12:17

If he does eff all now, what makes you think when separated he will suddenly step up and choose to see the kids/do anything without you about to push it?

Sounds like he'd be happy with EOW no pressure for him contact.

And you'll be sending your kids the message that their fathers behaviour is not acceptable and has consequences.

Good luck OP. Been there, it all looks difficult, insurmountable even, but from the other side it's really ok smile

AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 11:17:40

Alanna1 I agree with you about respecting DCs choices within reason. They don't get there own way if there's a good reason that they can't, but there really is no reason why H couldn't take an extra 5-10 minutes to travel the DCs' preferred route. He won't do it because he places his needs higher than everyone else's. He won't arrive home from work until 10-11pm tonight (entirely his own choice), so an extra minutes this morning would have been trivial.

I appreciate the suggestion of family therapy, but he really has no interest in understanding his issues. In his world, he has no issues and it's everyone else (and mainly me) who is the problem.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Fri 20-Nov-15 11:21:27

And if we were separated, he'd just behave like this towards the DCs without me there to tell him not to.

No no no, you are blaming your children for your fear of leaving by saying things like that. For a start, it is blatantly untrue. He behaves like this now and you are right there telling him not to. The children see that you tolerate his behaviour. So actually what you are doing is teaching your children how to stifle themselves, pander to bullying and generally put up with abuse. Don't lie to yourself that you are protecting them.

For example, do you remind them before they spend time alone with your DH to be good and to be careful not to upset daddy? I bet you've told them to be super good so that daddy doesn't have to drag them up the stairs, rather than saying daddy is behaving badly in that situation and that they must tell him themselves and tell you afterwards and there is no problem if they want to talk to other adults like teachers about it too. Did you talk to them today about the general situation where they are begging to not spend time with their father? Did you explain about how to stand up to bullies? Or did you try to smooth it over?

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 20-Nov-15 11:21:47

What do you get out of this relationship now?.

Re your comment:-
"I would also rather be single than put up with this, but unfortunately atm separation would cause more problems than it would solve. Am working on it though".

You are showing them that currently at least, this is acceptable to you on some level. They are seeing their mother being emotionally abused here by their dad and even though you state you are standing up for yourself more now, its clearly not working. What do you want to teach them about relationships here, what do you think they are learning from the two of you?.

Why would you write that atm separation would cause more problems than it would solve?. What problems would you be referring to in this respect?.

Such a man has no real interest in his children now and will have even less interest in seeing them longer term post separation. Such men like this further use the children as pawns to further get back at the mother as
punishment for leaving him.

Have you as yet sought legal advice re separation?. I would look into planning to separate from this relationship asap and there really is no time like the present. Your children will thank you.

AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 11:22:22

Lila, although he has little interest in doing much real parenting, he is quite possessive about the DCs in a trophy/mini-me sort of way. He is also, I think, quite jealous of the bond I have with them. So I think he would probably insist on seeing the DCs - which would be absolutely fine with me as long as he treats them like a reasonable and responsible parent.

I plan to be out the other side one day, good to hear it is OK over there.

OliviaBenson Fri 20-Nov-15 11:27:58

Please don't stay because of your children. I am that child and life was miserable. I

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 20-Nov-15 11:27:49

"So I think he would probably insist on seeing the DCs - which would be absolutely fine with me as long as he treats them like a reasonable and responsible parent

That won't happen. He is certainly not doing that now.

Would your children actually want to see him though even in a contact centre given his own treatment of them?. He is treating you and in turn them as mere possessions to talk at as he sees fit. He is not going to step up to the plate when you have finally separated from him. Its all about him and no-one else matters. I also think that he is going to make every single aspect of you actually separating from him as drawn out and protracted as possible.

AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 11:31:42

RunRabbit I think your comments are pretty unfair, actually.

I am absolutely not blaming my children.

I do not tell them to be supergood and not upset daddy. In fact, much to H's displeasure, I tell them very openly (and in front of him) when his behaviour towards them is unacceptable, and explain why. I tell them that H should listen to their opinions, but that I can't make him listen.

I am well aware that this is a poor second to separating. I don't plan to go into details about my circumstances on this forum, but I have considered my position very carefully and have sought legal advice, and I am honestly convinced that at least one of the DCs would be worse off if we separated.

OliviaBenson Fri 20-Nov-15 11:35:21

I cannot possibly understand how they would be worse off. I have to say, living that childhood, it's my mum I resent the most now for not being strong enough to leave and take us out of that situation. Please be brave.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 20-Nov-15 11:41:55

"I have considered my position very carefully and have sought legal advice, and I am honestly convinced that at least one of the DCs would be worse off if we separated".

How would they be worse off exactly?. Is it really for your own reasons that you are staying, its somehow easier for you if you do stay?.

Do not make either one of your children the reason for staying because they could well accuse you then of putting him before them. I have seen that particular type of scenario played out more than once amongst families.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 20-Nov-15 11:42:41

Oh he sounds horrible , I'm sorry, but he does, it's not on to treat the children like that in the journey.

I think IIWY I'd leave tbh, and do it all myself so I knew my children were happy. And leave him to his sad workaholic life.

Preminstreltension Fri 20-Nov-15 11:43:24

Either you think he is a good enough parent to be a parent and do normal things like take them on the school run (which involves doing it his way including going on the tube and hurrying them which they may not like but is actually just a different approach to yours) - or you don't.

Nothing you said about the school run particularly concerns me - it's not actually about the school run. It's about the fact that you don't like him, arguably the children don't like him, and you're all happier without him in the picture.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 20-Nov-15 11:43:52

So I'd have listened to the children and taken them. And had a blazing row with him about being so unreasonable.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 20-Nov-15 11:47:23

Have rtft now and I agree with everyone but also realise we are not you. I'm sorry you're with this man, it sounds hard. I hope you find the courage to leave. Good luck.

AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 11:52:06

Preminstrel, you are saying pretty much what H says.

I really don't have a problem with him taking a different approach to me but in this case his approach seems to making the DCs needlessly unhappy and that I do have a problem with.

AltaRica Fri 20-Nov-15 11:56:58

Is it really for your own reasons that you are staying?

Attila if I'm honest there is probably a grain of truth in that, in the sense that I know that separation will set off a chain of events that will have significant negative consequences for one or both DCs, and I can't bear to do that to them. So yes, at a some level staying benefits me because I avoid causing them additional pain.

CharlotteCollins Fri 20-Nov-15 12:02:05

He sounds similar to my DC's father: the making his stress out to be their fault, refusing to consider giving up ten minutes for their comfort and confidence, seeing them as trophies/mini-mes...

You don't know yet which way he'll go about contact post-separation. My XH surprised me by wanting so much contact when he'd given them only grudging time and attention before (unless family or friends were watching). But the DCs are doing fine. In fact, I think my DS in particular is more confident now that his dad likes him, spending regular time with him. He's also spent a lot of time and money being Disney Dad, so hopefully better behaviour-wise towards them. If not, at least they have a safe place to retreat to afterwards, where they are treated well and know that they will not be blamed for an adult's ill temper.

CharlotteCollins Fri 20-Nov-15 12:06:24

Sorry, that took me half an hour to write, with interruptions, and was really answering PPs. I see that you're only half-considering the idea of separating anyway, so my comments aren't really helpful.

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