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Thinking about child contact when leaving a bad relationship

(15 Posts)
Anonymousquestion Fri 27-May-16 13:18:23

I can't trust my own judgement. I posted on a thread not so long ago where a poster was upset about her DH smacking their child. Bar a couple of other posters, I was out of sync with the general view - which was that it was wrong but OP was overreacting. I didn't think she was.

I wonder how others feel about this? For context and honesty I am in the process of and have posted about separating from husband who has been a bit controlling and unkind to me, but otherwise great with the kids.

So eldest child, then 3yo, made a mess at dinner, generally misbehaving, DH cross, then child tips his food out and leaves table. DH grabs child holding arms pinned to his sides and carries him to a mirror shouting looking at the mess you've made of yourself. Then holds child out over the mess in table- child's face an inch from the food mess, still shouting at him. I'm at first frozen in terror thinking DH might hurt child, then I do what I can to get child out of way. Tell DH to calm down. DH doesn't see how out of control or scary he appeared (6'5" man, booming voice).

This incident stayed with me. I have found myself in years since trying to calm things or saying to DS to stop x behaviour before Daddy gets angry.

There really have only been a handful of incidents over the years. I posted another thread here.


When I talked to DH about shouting at me and how that would feel for the children if it scares me, he points out that his relationship with the children is different. They don't make him angry like I do.

I don't know what I'm asking. I guess I'm trying to get a balanced view on his parenting as the children are going to be spending time with DH alone. In general they have a great time together.

Are these normal slip ups that parents make?

CommonBurdock Fri 27-May-16 15:35:32

My XH also v tall and loud voice once shouted repeatedly at our 18-month old daughter, right up in her face to "make" her eat. After the meal I did exactly the same to him myself and asked him how he liked it. He didn't and stopped that particular behaviour but carried on being an ignorant bully in many other ways hence the "X".

Easier said than done to stay calm with a 3 year old at the dinner table but no need for bullying.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 27-May-16 15:55:30

Its not you, its him.

No what your DH has done re his children is not normal at all; its all the hallmark of controlling behaviours towards them as well. Controlling behaviour is abusive behaviour at heart. I certainly do not think he is at all good with these children also because he is not kind to you as their mother. He wants to control them as well and you've been teaching them to pacify this man at all costs. You all need to get well away from him.

The only acceptable level of abuse within a relationship is NONE. You also mention a handful of other incidents; one is one too many.

If you've never read "Why does he do that?" written by Lundy Bancroft I would suggest you do so.

I would continue with the process of separation and certainly formalise all such contact arrangements through the court system. No informal arrangements with him should be made.

I do not think that even when you are divorced from him will he let you go that easily. Such men do not let go of their victims at all easily and you may well find he will use his children further to get back at you as punishment for leaving him.

Anonymousquestion Fri 27-May-16 18:32:51

CommonBurdock that's awful, shouting at a baby.

Attila thanks. It's certainly not acceptable to me to treat children like that. But I'm not good at discipline (or actually maybe I'm fine!). I've clearly let my older child down. We both have. I've been focused on separating. But it's not as simple as leaving when it concerns the children because they will have contact.

I think I can persuade him to work on his anger if it's about his relationship with the children.

pocketsaviour Fri 27-May-16 18:37:12

When I talked to DH about shouting at me and how that would feel for the children if it scares me, he points out that his relationship with the children is different. They don't make him angry like I do.

Surely this implies that when they do make him angry, that he will be as abusive to them as he has been to you.

I don't blame you for being concerned but I don't know what you can do. The courts don't appear to give much of a shit about emotional abuse of children, sadly.

Do you think he would accept the idea of having "counselling" together with a view to making an agreement about how to co-parent? (However if he has been repeatedly abusive to you then don't suggest this.)

Anonymousquestion Fri 27-May-16 19:00:54

Surely this implies that when they do make him angry, that he will be as abusive to them as he has been to you.

Yes pocketsaviour it's a poor answer.

If it was about our relationship i would not consider joint counselling. It would be a terrible idea. More and more I am realising just how bad things have been. But maybe it could work if it's just about parenting.

Trouble is he doesn't mean to talk to them as he does - he doesn't see when he is intimidating. I wonder how joint counselling would make him see that. I wonder what other options there might be.

pocketsaviour Fri 27-May-16 19:35:08

Does your eldest appear scared or intimidated of him?

I'm wondering if there's any point trying to get him to change his ways - or if you might be better off concentrating on giving your child resources and help to cope with contact.

(I feel horrible saying that and I hate the idea of having to teach a child how to cope with being emotionally/verbally abused - but realistically he's going to have contact and given his behaviour so far, it's likely that there will be some intimidation and bullying. I have been in the same boat trying to help my DS cope with his birth mum's bullying and manipulation. Sometimes all we can do is try to help our DC build their defences.)

Anonymousquestion Fri 27-May-16 20:12:10

That's an interesting approach. Perhaps I could try come at it from both angles.

My son definitely isn't scared of him in general. He is probably anxious at the times where DH is angry. Tbh I find it difficult to be sure. Eg, when my son started school he seemed happy and confident but started wetting himself repeatedly. he clearly wasnt coping as well as he might appear to be.

He has had problems with anxious behaviour over the last couple of years, difficult to pin down cause as sadly a number of factors at play.

He has described daddy as "when he is cross about something he gets very angry". He knows it's different to me being cross.

Sorry about your DS. Life shouldn't be tough for children.

MakeItRain Sat 28-May-16 10:34:53

I think you need to document all these incidents and also seek advice from e.g. your school, health visitor or gp. Once your dh has the children, IF there is ever an incident, or your children seem anxious, evidence like this would support you in court.

The court will only concern themselves with hard evidence. If you go to court and say "I was always worried about his behaviour" they will (quite rightly) question how concerned you are or how bad it was if you never did anything about it.

If you go to court and say you were sufficiently worried about his anger that you sought support from your school/hv/GP on certain dates they will take it more seriously.

You have to see it from the court's pov, lots of couples simply lie about each other and they have no way of knowing the truth.

Anonymousquestion Sat 28-May-16 11:17:54

Yes I completely understand how impossible it is for the court when allegations are made.

I have been looking online at parenting or anger management courses. My ideal would be that he sees the need and thinks it's a good idea, tackles it - and they could therefore have lots of healthy contact. Success is only likely if he wants to do it. Perhaps if I do similar it would help.

It's certainly not something I could tackle at the moment.

I will speak to school as I need to talk to them about separating anyway. Unfortunately as the intention to separate is already there I am already going to look like a vindictive spouse.

MakeItRain Sat 28-May-16 15:36:44

I think you have to put worries about looking like a vindictive spouse to one side and just focus on doing what's right for your children. Passing over your concerns about the past will support any future problems, so if anything were to happen he would be less able to pass it off as a one off. It's just about getting your concerns documented.

Suggesting parenting classes for his anger is also good. Personally, with my own experience, I wouldn't also suggest you offer to take classes because he could use this in a counter claim against your own parenting. ("She was so worried about her own issues she sought out parenting classes" type argument).

Sounds a bit cynical but I've been through similar.

Anonymousquestion Sat 28-May-16 19:44:27

Ok thanks. Good point re counter claim against my parenting. Will getting concerns documented trigger any type of action from any of the authorities. If so I'd need to hold off.

MakeItRain Sat 28-May-16 23:20:16

I think if you tell school or a GP about the incident over the food and the shoving then yes I imagine they would make an initial call to social services/children's services. (Current budgets might mean they don't necessarily follow it up though apart from asking the school to speak to you and your dh/or visiting you and suggesting parenting classes). Why would you need to hold off though?

I'm a few years past my split and the thing I regret most is initially fearing the involvement of SS/outside agencies and holding back. If I could go back this is what I would change. I can't stress this enough. Apart from anything, it can be such a powerful argument that you weren't really concerned much at all. But of course the main reason it that you need to protect your children first and foremost and if you think there's a likelihood your dh will lose his temper with them when you're no longer around you do need to flag this up now. I know that's quite a scary prospect though when you're still together. I do know I was very frightened about the repercussions of reporting anything, and maybe I've forgotten just how difficult that made it for me.

Anonymousquestion Sun 29-May-16 01:05:31

It would ruin any chance of DH tackling the issue himself - which I think ultimately would have the best result for our children.
And yes, repercussions at a time I need to keep things "amicable".

MakeItRain Sun 29-May-16 22:02:30

Hope things work out flowers

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