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DH disengaged with kids

(20 Posts)
Lightpurpletulip Sat 13-May-17 19:58:55

At the end of my tether and need to rant.

DH has never been keen to engage with our two boys and I am so sad for them.

I see so many other dads taking their children out to the park, for bike rides, having a kick around generally having fun. I just don't know where it all went wrong.

My DH works hard and does his share of drop offs and pick ups. He helps around the house to some extent. Any family activities are done under duress.

Lately I have started to pursue a new hobby which hasn't gone down too well as it requires DH to do a bit more child care.

All our arguments centre around his lack of interest in the boys. He has pretty much zero relationship with the older one who now doesn't even both seeking any attention from him. The younger one adores his dad but is getting little in return.

Has anyone experienced this and overcome it? Any suggestions welcome.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 13-May-17 20:10:19

Ranting will do you no favours ultimately, its time to take a firm stand OP.

What do you get out of this relationship now?. What needs of yours is he meeting here?.

His lack of interest cannot be rekindled if it was never really there to begin with. If he is this disinterested in his children then it is down to you to separate from him. He is not a good husband to you either if he is treating his children like this. Its emotional abuse of them and in turn you.

It sounds like its all about him and what he wants, you are all but secondary to him. He is doing the barest of bare minimums anyway at home, its basically what he can get away with.

What are his parents like OP; that would often give you clues. They may well be the same. After all we learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents.

What do you think they are learning from the two of you about relationships here?. Is this really what you want to teach them, for them to repeat this with their own families themselves or at the very least have lots of therapy as a result of their own shite childhoods and their mother's lack of action to remove them from him. Its no legacy to leave them is it? Your children are being emotionally harmed here by their dad.

SaltySeaDog72 Sat 13-May-17 20:15:07

My ExH was like this. I did stuff I wanted to do any way, did everything else, ran the house, finances, all the chores. He got more and more abusive grumpy. In the end I left him.

I still look at engaged dads and think 'wow' - infact sometimes it really hits me.

This stuff will kill your relationship, OP. I would make this a dealbreaker and tell him as much.

Lightpurpletulip Sat 13-May-17 20:23:29

Thank you both. Harsh words but true.

Attila, he has a bad relationship with his mother and I often say that he treats me as he does her. I think she nagged him a lot growing up and he learnt to block her out. He does the same to me when I try to talk to him. His father died when he was young so I think his mum over compensated discipline wise.

I know he finds the boys hard work. They argue a lot. However, he has refused to implement any kind of strategies to deal with them. As result, he doesn't want to take them out anywhere because he's afraid they will embarrass him.

SaltySeaDog72 Sat 13-May-17 20:31:37

It's a bit like my ExH. Full of shame and rage underneath.

BUT it is of vital importance that you do not get drawn into the reasons why. The reasons are many but they are all irrelevant. Don't do what I did waste years trying to understand/compensate/accommodate - it will erode your relationship anyway.

Opting out of family life is a dealbreaker and that is the only relevant fact here. In fact I think you should do some research into how life would look with him living elsewhere. Because right now your sons are learning how to turn into him.. that's the most sobering thought of the lot..

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 13-May-17 20:34:15


re your comment:-
"he has a bad relationship with his mother and I often say that he treats me as he does her. I think she nagged him a lot growing up and he learnt to block her out. He does the same to me when I try to talk to him. His father died when he was young so I think his mum over compensated discipline wise".

Well there you go, that is the nub of it. He has basically repeated the same old bad stuff that he learnt from his mother in childhood. This stuff is deeply ingrained in his psyche. It harmed him markedly and now he is doing similar emotional damage to his children. There is really no easy way back from this and he may well require years of therapy even if he did want to attend any sessions.

He sounds frankly pathetic as well as selfish if he thinks that his own children will embarrass him. How would they do that?. He is only thinking of his own self here.

How do you feel about my suggestion of separating from him?

You can only help your children and your own self here; I would actually now seek legal advice with a view to separating from him. Such men do not change and he would have been the same regardless. You do not have to act immediately on such advice but knowledge after all is power.

You have a choice re this man, your children do not. That is also something you need to remember here. This is not the legacy of a childhood you want to be leaving them.

Lightpurpletulip Sat 13-May-17 20:45:16

Separating fills me with dread and makes me feel sick. As with most, I never thought this would happen to me (us).

Of course, you are both right. My boys are learning to behave as he does. I fear they are already emotionally scarred.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 13-May-17 20:52:43

One generation i.e. your H has been affected by growing up within his dysfunctional family of origin comprising of his mother. No-one protected him from her sadly but going forward to now, your children have you. They have you now to protect them and protect them from this emotional abuse you must.

Its not your fault he is like this. Divorcing him may make you feel sick with dread but what is really worse; ripping the plaster off now or watching him in front of your very eyes further harm your children's childhoods?. He does not have a relationship with your eldest child as it is. If you stay they will know that you as their mother did nothing in their eyes to protect them from their dad's emotional bitterness. Your own relationship as a result with them going forward could well be affected because they could accuse you of putting him before them.

You have a choice re him, they do not.

IonaNE Sat 13-May-17 20:56:12

Did he actively want children before they were born?

Stormsurfer Sat 13-May-17 20:57:18

My STBXH is the same. I wasted years and years trying to find a way that he would be involved. I finally realised that is was never going to happen, but wish I had cut loose much sooner. Only willing, caring and genuine involvement is worth having for your DC, forcing him or nagging to get it does not benefit the DC. I wish I came to that conclusion much sooner and then less damage would have been done.

SaltySeaDog72 Sat 13-May-17 21:09:12

I agree with Stormsurfer I think my dc would have been better served if he had left sooner. As soon as I kicked him out I knew I had done the right thing by my kids. I didn't want to endorse that model of family life a minute longer. My house has been happier ever since, notwithstanding the sadness dc understandably feel at their mum and dad not being together. But it is all perfectly cop-able with and my dc are happy and well adjusted. This was 4 years ago now.

Sorry, OP. It is really depressing. But your h is too damaged and won't change fundamentally. It is depressing and sad but not your fault. It's not even you h's fault but it is his problem to solve (although he won't, I never heard of a man like this who changed).

Lightpurpletulip Sat 13-May-17 21:10:08

Yes Iona. We planned to have children. He was keen, especially for boys!

It's such a shame Storm.

I think it's worse now that they are a bit older. He was ok when they were very small in terms of feeding and doing nappies, etc. Maybe I've let him get away with doing too little. I should have insisted that he take them from the start for longer periods of time.

SaltySeaDog72 Sat 13-May-17 21:12:29

My ex originally wanted five children and to be a stay at home dad true actual fact.

He isn't the most insightful of men (world's biggest understatement)

donners312 Sat 13-May-17 21:14:41

I'm sorry but my Ex was like this too.
If you can turn a blind eye and it suits you do that. But you cannot make him interested in the children if his heart isn't in it.

IonaNE Sat 13-May-17 21:19:01

We planned to have children. He was keen, especially for boys!
Thanks for responding, OP. No advice here (other than probably that I would not leave a man solely because of this). Hope it turns out ok for you & the boys. flowers

Starlight2345 Sat 13-May-17 21:24:07

I agree no point ranting.

You need to decide how to move forward for you and the boys.

The fact he thinks they will embarrass him is a sign he really hasn't bothered to parent them.

I would also say it is a right of passage to have at least a few tales of how your child embarrassed you.

Don't assume you can change him , he isn't going to change

Stormsurfer Sat 13-May-17 21:37:34

I guess when you first notice, you are still hopeful they may change and it may not seem like a reason to split up. But as time goes on, you realise there is a basic lack of respect for family life and that permeates into every aspect of his relationships. Mine did not value what I did for and with the DC, did not feel the need to foster strong links with his own or my family, would prioritise many other things above the security and happiness of the DC and therefore actually hindered the emotional growth of my DC. His detachment was mixed with arrogance and entitlement. This was not what I wanted for my children, not how I wanted them to see him treat me. Life is so much calmer and easier now. He sees them maybe 2 days every 2 months, calls them for about 15 mins in total a week and that is all he wants. I no longer chase him to be a better man and father or make excuses for him. I am desperately sad for my DC, but at the time of having them he was the one pushing for children and I thought he would be a great dad.

blankmind Sat 13-May-17 22:47:56

Could you attend parenting classes with your DH ? He could be clueless about how to parent effectively and too mortified to ask for your advice.

whattheactualfudge Sat 13-May-17 23:53:02

Atilla Jesus Christ calm down! You really are coming across like you're trying to bully OP into leaving her husband! All because of a post on a thread? You have no right!

josuk Sun 14-May-17 00:44:37

When i read your post it echoed some of the issues i had with H and how he is/was with DDs.
So at some point, I decided that I can either try to change a grown man and his idea of what's good parenting OR I can just do what i think is best for the kids.
(and NO it wasn't divorcing him because he doesn't take kids to parks on weekends)

I do. I just changed my attitude as decided to do things that are within my control. And what i think is good for the children.

Daddy wants to take naps on weekends? Good for him.
Kids and I go out to a park, or theatre, or museums, or a pool.

Daddy came to meet us at the playground - and after 15 min wanted us all to leave?
Well - you go on, we are not done yet, and it's a sunny day, which doesn't happen often.

I can't control/change how involved he thinks fathers need to be with kids. I can only do my bit to keep the kids happy.

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