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exP OCD and speaking to toddler in forceful way(13 Posts)
ExP has MH issues, including OCD, PTSD etc
This means he is phobic of germs and washes his hands repeatedly, sometimes muttering to himself for 10 - 15 mins every time he touches something he deems dirty (such as a tap, bin, or after using the toilet etc).
Thus he generally avoids touching anything like taps or rubbish bags unless he absolutely has to, to avoid his rituals etc.
What worries me is that when our 3yo DS goes to the toilet ExP becomes slightly manic about DS washing his hands and speaks to him in a really forceful way while trying to get DS to wash his hands "appropriately" but without demonstrating / helping him as he won't touch the taps or DS to help.
E.g. DS goes to the toilet / potty, from the moment he gets off exP is urging him to wash his hands, if he doesn't straight away exP repeats the phrase getting more urgent / manic sounding. E.g. "now wash your hands, now wash your hands, NOW WASH YOUR HANDS" etc etc ad nauseum, raising voice to be quite narky and slightly aggressive sounding until DS does each step of the hand washing process.
As ExP does not touch the soap or toddler's hands or demonstrate to him what he needs to do he just barks at him. "Now turn the tap on, now turn it on, turn it on, turn it on, JUST TURN THE TAP ON" etc etc getting quite manic about each stage. The whole process can last 10 mins. Wherever I hear it going on I interject (probably not always quickly enough as I am usually busy and don't always want to intervene or undermine exP's parenting) and just help DS, show him what to do etc. I usually say "don't listen to daddy when he speaks to you like that, there's nothing wrong, just call for me" etc and help him nicely through the process like most parents would.
DS being recently 3yo is not 100% perfect at the process yet and I worry that exP will give him his issues around germs or even upset his confidence by speaking to him in this way. However whenever I bring up the issue exP gets narked and grumpy, "I'll speak to him however I feel is appropriate" etc and accuses me of undermining him and says he is not being inappropriate, gets really prickly as he is touchy about the subject anyway.
I really don't want DS to pick up on exP's MH issues. Fortunately he lives with me 100% of the time and exP visits for a couple of days a week (staying in spare room) to help and let me do some work etc.
How do I get it across to exP that this is inappropriate? What could be the consequences of him speaking to him in this way ongoing? I could tell him to butt out completely if he can't speak helpfully but think he will get seriously pissed off if I undermine him to that point. I need to get it across to him that it's inappropriate but how?
Well I would not have your ex around at all quite frankly - until he gets help. He needs professional help.
Plus you're setting up all sorts of problems by undermining your child's father (don't listen to daddy, come to me). It tells your child that what you says matters more?
I think what I say does matter more in this situation though? I don't undermine him about other things.
I know what you're saying about not having him around - however he's been through extensive counselling sessions and is on an enforced break at the moment (can't have it beyond a set amount) and will restart soon (he's got a lot of issues). I have encouraged him to get specific OCD help but he can't have that concurrnetly with the other therapy he's been getting.
he is pretty much ok the rest of the time it's just this issue that really worries me.
DS loves his dad and I really do rely on his support in many ways - as a working LP with no family nearby and hardly any social circle - without him I would hardly see anyone and I really need his limited support with DS.
You need to intervene and undermine his parenting because it's completely inadequate.
Well I would tell your ex to leave your ds alone when it comes to hand washing. So are you around during the whole visit? In which case you deal with hand washing? If that's the only issue.
I think this is not something your 3 year old should be experiencing - potentially very damaging. So I don't think that your ex should be allowed to supervise hand washing at all. Which probably means you are going to need to look at alternative childcare arrangements for when you are working or want to socialise.
Of course you are undermining him. He needs to be undermined because he is modelling abnormal and damaging behaviour. But just saying to your son don't take any notice of daddy is not enough. Your son must not know what to think or do, bless him. He needs to be protected from your ex. Sorry, I know that is easier for me to say than you to do.
i do have huge hesitancy about getting health professionals involved. But I think if there was a professional to explain to exP how it could affect DS it would have impact (as it is he thinks I am being irrational when I bring it up).
he does need to be undermined though on this issue. I might contact a parenting organisation local to me to find out their thoughts...
I may also show him this thread to convince him it's inappropriate behaviour.
It's so hard for me. I'm so hesitant to leave them together as i am desperate for him not to be exposed to this behaviour frequently. 95% of contact is supervised (I work from home) it just means my life is very difficult as I cannot leave DS with him for any length of time or have much of a life of my own away from DS due to the lack of family around.
I think my action plan should be to firstly convince him that the behaviour is inappropriate, secondly reinforce the need for him to get OCD treatment and thirdly get some advice maybe from an OCD organisation and / or a parenting organisation on how to deal with it.
It might sound way out I think I might help to make some discreet video evidence of this process then play it back when he's in more of a mood to discuss it rationally and get him to understand how it affects DS.
I also need to think harder about his role in DS life - I would never cut him out but I should be more wary about unsupervised contact than I currently am (which is pretty wary already).
You're unlikely to convince him that this is inappropriate behaviour, since this is a VERY deeply set neurosis of his, which professional therapy hasn't solved. So you're unlikely to have any success.
The only think you can do is set limits. Since your exP cannot behave normally around cleanliness issues, then he is not to be involved in those issues with your DS. Full stop. You are the only parent who can model healthy behaviour wrt potty and hand-washing, etc. So if DS needs the potty, you're on duty and exP goes in another room for a few minutes.
thanks rice - completely agree.
It's importnat that I do that, and I will, sadly it leaves me with the issue that I can't trust them on their own away from me being there though, at least until DS is old enough to wash his own hands. Shame I don't have family locally!
I will still push forward with trying to convince him it's inappropriate though. He's not had specific OCD treatment as yet so I will encourage him to undertake that ASAP (he is not great at being proactive though and will actively avoid it probably!).
I think you need to get this behaviour documented. Which means get hv and gp involved. As you ex will want to see your son away from at some point and if you have it documented what he is like then the court ( if get that far ) will see where you are coming from.
Have you thought about nursery for your son as he is 3 and should be getting his free 15 hours soon and as you LP he could have got free hours from 2.
You're unlikely to convince him that this is inappropriate behaviour, since this is a VERY deeply set neurosis of his, which professional therapy hasn't helped
At the moment this is where he is and in reality, this means supervised contact. Your Ex can be an active participant of his son's life but you will need to take charge of situations where his MH issues could effect your sons emotional development.
I had ocd when my son was a baby and thankfully he seems to have no awareness of that now he is 3, im glad that although i suffered from it, it seems he didnt as he doesn't seem to have any compulsions or checking behaviours, as a matter of urgency I got professional help to fix the OCD and I'm so glad I did because I can see that exposing a 3 year old to this is a really bad idea, probably increases the likelihood they will develop ocd and even if not, would be very upsetting to be on the receiving end of the shouting plus OCD sucks the joy out of life and reduces opportunities to be happy together. I think it is perfectly reasonable that if he is unable to not be ocd when dealing with toddler going to the toilet \putting something in the bin etc then he should not be doing these things with your son until he is better. It is a known thing that ocd is very hard on the partner of the person with it and it is right you should protect your son from being in a similar position. Ocd is really tough on the sufferer, an awful problem but he must get help for his sake and your son, till then you should (and he should agree, for the benefit of your son) remove your toddler from all situations that trigger his ocd and where he has to look after your son in those situations. I can understand him being defensive but he needs to take the first step and accept he has pretty bad ocd and that it will affect his young son, if he is not ready for that then I think you need to overrule him and have supervised contact only. Speak to a GP yourself about his ocd and then there will be a record. In my experience he will get weekly telephone or face to face specialised OCD therapy sessions on NHS which will be heavy going and challenging and require his full commitment, it isn't something he will succeed at unless he really wants to not have OCD anymore - the emphasis is on the OCD therapy homework outside of the session and you need to be motivated to do that. So I think this is about encouraging him to take that step and in the meantime shielding your son from it. Do some research on the effect of an ocd parent on a child. 10-15 mins of repeated hand washing and the shouting at his son to comply with his compulsions sounds like pretty bad OCD - obviously it could be a lot worse but this sounds significant.
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