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How do I have this conversation?

(62 Posts)
thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 19:28:49

I feel I need to find a tactful way of speaking to DH about the way he plays with DS who is 4. I should first of all explain that DH is generally an excellent partner: helpful and hands on and this is the only issue.

My view is that DH goes too far and doesn't realise the effect he can have on DS. DH thinks I'm making problems where there aren't any. Generally they get on well- DS adores play fighting with DH in particular and DH is very hands on but I feel sometimes he thinks DS is older than he is and DH lacks some emotional sensitivity when playing.

By way of example, if DS is eating a treat like ice cream or sweets, DH will pretend he's going to eat it, resulting in DS shouting no and gulping the treat quickly. I've asked DH not to do it and explained that he should nt be made to feel those treats are at risk, but he is adamant DS knows he's pretending.

Or this evening DS had a tummy ache and needed the loo. He was wearing a cowboy outfit so I took off the holster so he could go to the loo and put it down on the kitchen counter and went to help DS in the toilet. When we came back DS wanted his gun and holster straight away and I pointed to where it was for him. Before he could get it, DH grabbed it and started playing with it. DS started screaming for it back and I told DH to hand it over. DH got cross for being "told off" in front of DS. I said how would you feel if you ran into a room looking for something and before you get it someone 3 x your size grabbed it and started using it. DH said DS knew I'd hand it to him in a minute. I don't think DS did know that.

Or DH does "spooky" laughing which sometimes DS loves and laughs at but sometimes he says stop it daddy it's scary, but DH doesn't stop until I step in. Again DH says I'm playing with my son and we re having fun whereas I think he goes too far

How do I explain this to DH so that he "gets it" without him feeling like I'm having a go at him? Or is DH right and am I making mountains out of molehills?

Ps sorry for the long post. There are other examples but I've probably waffled on enough

BoringlyRestrictive Wed 02-Dec-15 19:31:30

No idea, watching with interest as mine is exactly the same.

Dd (3) actually will gulp all her food now and often makes herself sick in the process but she is genuinely scared he is going to take it.
She doesn't do it when he isn't around.
So sad sad

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 19:34:31

Just wish that particular "game" worked with veg!

YouAreMyRain Wed 02-Dec-15 19:35:21

Teasing is a recognised form of emotional abuse.


I was teased as a child and it affects me to this day. I find it hard to trust people and I have low self esteem.

It is bullying. Your husband is older, more experienced and more powerful than your child. He is doing it for his own amusement. It is cruel.

Nothighgaphere Wed 02-Dec-15 19:37:04

Ha! Mine does this too! Drives me crazy, it's like having an extra child. I ask him not to do it all the time. I think it's all those years of being the youngest brother.

Whythehellnot Wed 02-Dec-15 19:40:15

That's interesting youare. I was going to say my ex is the same. Really stupid winding up of the children until they are upset eg pretending he had got them a present when he hadn't.

I always thought he had no idea how to see things in their way. Totally clueless. But actually quite cruel and he used to find it funny.

Nothighgaphere Wed 02-Dec-15 19:41:38

Cross post. It is cruel, but I know in my case dh is doing it to get a laugh. I'm going to keep on top of this cos it doesn't sit right at all.

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 19:42:54

Youaremyrain I think you're taking it a bit far but agree with the sentiment that this behaviour is wrong.

DH is ultimately a good guy and would never knowingly do anything to upset his son. DH had a very difficult childhood with a mentally ill father and I don't think he experienced the same kind of playing that I did as a child and which I try to do.

I'm not the "fun one" - that's definitely DH but sometimes he oversteps the mark. To me DH doesn't seem to have the emotional sensitivity to get my point on this issue if that makes sense - he thinks everyone's having fun. What I'm asking for help with is how I can tactfully have the conversation so that DH takes it on board

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 19:46:31

Nothighaphere - you've hit the nail on the head with "it's like having an extra child" exactly that! He's like a child in that imo he takes it too far and doesn't realise.

SapphireStarfish Wed 02-Dec-15 19:49:19

Great link above.

I don't think their explanation of teasing/terrorising is at all similar though. My dad was similar to OP husband, and I understood he was being silly. Is your son an only child? It sounds like he is which I think can contribute sometimes to a lesser awareness of social interactions

From the article:

" Parents who use threats, yelling and cursing are doing serious psychological damage to their children. Singling out one child to criticize and punish or ridiculing her for displaying normal emotions is abusive. Threatening a child with harsh words, physical harm, abandonment or in extreme cases death is unacceptable. Even in jest, causing a child to be terrified by the use of threats and/or intimidating behavior is some of the worst emotional abuse. This includes witnessing, hearing or knowing that violence is taking place in the home. "

SapphireStarfish Wed 02-Dec-15 19:52:51

Just to clarify I meant that excerpt above is far too extreme to be applicable in your case Thinkfast. Your partner sounds like a lovely dad, just not realising it's upsetting your son

YouAreMyRain Wed 02-Dec-15 19:52:57

That may not be the best link, I was in a rush, sorry. I am an adoptive parent and during our training we were told that teasing us a form of emotional abuse, it made sense to me because of what I had experienced.

SapphireStarfish Wed 02-Dec-15 19:56:01

You are my rain,

I think you'd be hard pushed to find any adult whose not had issues with trust, self esteem and teasing! Pretty average parts of the human experience

SapphireStarfish Wed 02-Dec-15 19:57:28

I think the term emotional abuse is way too harsh here, and belittles actual abuse

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 19:57:51

Thanks for clarifying sapphire - you are right he's a great dad - loves playing with DS - just takes it too far and disagrees with me on that point and takes any criticism of his parenting very hard. Any advice on how to explain it?

DS isn't an only child but DD is only 5 months.

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 20:00:06

Perhaps I should also say I'm not from a family where "banter" is the norm so no one else has that kind of interaction with DS as far as I know

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 20:01:29

Oh and there's no emotional abuse going on - just slightly misguided play - play taken too far.

YouAreMyRain Wed 02-Dec-15 20:04:04

I'm not saying that all teasing is abusive. You have to look at the affects on the child. If it upsets the child and the adult persists, for their own entertainment, I regard that as abusive.

Abusive behaviour exists in varying degrees, calling what may be mild abuse, "abuse" doesn't belittle more serious abuse. It recognises the nature of the interaction.

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 20:07:06

Youaremyrain - you've derailed the thread slightly. I'm asking for advice on how to have a delicate conversation with DH.

SapphireStarfish Wed 02-Dec-15 20:11:03

Yes I understand completely what you mean, my mum was forever having to interject too. Hmm it's a hard one, I mean what are your usual strategies for communicating and getting through to your oh when you have any issues? I think dad's can get quite defensive thinking it's a criticism. Maybe a discussion about it when you're relaxed and alone so it's not done in the heat of the moment so he can see that it is something you're genuinely concerned about and that you're not simply telling him what to do

YouAreMyRain Wed 02-Dec-15 20:13:00

Well I would suggest talking to him about the fact that social services recognise that teasing *can* be a form of abuse. Obviously depending on the nature of the teasing, the frequency of the teasing and the affects on the child. That's how serious it is.

sometimes he says stop it daddy it's scary, but DH doesn't stop until I step in

Your DH isn't listening to you, maybe he needs shock tactics. What affect is this behaviour having on your DS and his relationship with your DH? Start by discussing that. But presumably you already have and he's not listening or you wouldn't be on here.

thinkfast Wed 02-Dec-15 20:15:46

Thanks sapphire. We never really disagree on the fundamentals so don't have those conversations. We have normal rows from time to time and make up. Or might disagree on politics, or an interpretation of a film or something but normally when it comes to the important things we re on the same page.

Going to try to have the conversation now but pretty sure it will go awry....

AlwaysBeYourself Wed 02-Dec-15 20:17:05

Its difficult. He is his dad and feels that he should be able to parent his children the way he wants to but you feel his parenting is inappropriate. Maybe he doesn't agree with some of your ways of parenting either.
Mens rough and tumble play is said to help prepare kids for the real world but its hard as a Mum because you always want to protect and make sure they are happy.

trilbydoll Wed 02-Dec-15 20:23:05

DH comes from a family where they wind each other up all the time. So he sees it as a) normal and b) teaching DD how to deal with it.

Sometimes he goes too far. But he tends to say "don't worry DD I will never eat your toys. If I say I have, I'm being funny. Oh, where is the My Little Pony? Did I eat it?" so she can get on board with the joke.

I think the key is recognising when he's gone too far, maybe you should focus on that rather than the teasing itself?

StrawberryTeaLeaf Wed 02-Dec-15 20:24:12

You're making sense to me Youaremyrain.

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