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Am I expecting too much?

(25 Posts)
TeaIsTheCure Mon 15-May-17 03:50:00

How much responsibility do men generally take for babies?

Me and my husband have a four month old and I don't feel like he is really parenting. He changes nappies when he's here and does play with the baby for 10-15 mins at a time when he wants to but when he doesn't he just seems to switch off being a parent. He can be in the same room as baby who will be babbling away but he will just have a nap, watch TV or play on his laptop. When he's has enough of listening to baby playing he goes in the other room and puts his headphones in. He works 9-5 and goes to the gym/for a run 3 or 4 times a week so also gets time away from home.

In contrast I feel like I am always in parent mode and never get any leisure time. If I'm in the room with baby (which is most of the time) I'm at least keeping an eye out but mostly playing and engaging with her. I feel like he sees me as the parent - so if I'm in the room/house he's off the hook. Also I'm breastfeeding so I can't really leave the house without her.

I only get time to myself when I go for a shower and he looks after her for half an hour (only a couple
of times a week) but he doesn't even seem to cope with this as I come downstairs to him with his head in his hands and huffing and puffing because she's been crying.

I just feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 responsibility. I cannot sleep because I am so resentful about this situation and I feel like I absolutely hate him at the moment. Our relationship before was very equal - he's always done his fair share around the house for example so I didn't see this coming.

I have told him he doesn't take enough responsibility and it hasn't really changed much so I'm not sure what else I can do. Is this normal? Does it take longer for men to take on a full parenting role?

fiftyplustwo Mon 15-May-17 04:04:56

Where I live (another country and parent-friendly country at that) it has been quite common for dads to go off on paternal leave for four-six months when the baby is about six months old - quite a stretch of time. You see dads with prams and toddlers everywhere in the street. I've seen this happen multiple times. I don't think you could turn on the parenting behaviour over the odd weekend (just two days) but you could always try that.

Aquamarine1029 Mon 15-May-17 04:11:56

Your partner is a self-absorbed infant. You have my sympathies.

user1486956786 Mon 15-May-17 04:12:08

I do think this is very very very common. Some men are not naturals others are. Whether right or wrong depends on you. Perhaps he could help more with housework to take that pressure off you? Hang in there, first years are not easy especially with no sleep.

PianoThirty Mon 15-May-17 04:16:16

It does get better. As the baby gets bigger and starts to react / interact more, the father usually takes a greater interest in the baby.

Just keep badgering him (gently), so that he doesn't coast into letting you do all the work.

winteriseverywhere Mon 15-May-17 04:17:14

All the engaging with your baby is called emotion/emotional work or emotion/emotional labour if you want to google that? The book wifework talks a fair bit about it. It might help you talk to him about it if you have some of the vocabulary to describe what's happening and sadly, there's a mountain of research to show men do very little of this while women do an awful lot. Men will sometimes try to argue that it's different brain types that cause the differences but it's just down to effort and socialisation.

TeaIsTheCure Mon 15-May-17 04:24:40

To be fair he does do a fair share of the housework and he always has. It just feels like he is only engaged with baby sometimes and the rest of the time his life has continued as before. Meanwhile I feel like mine has had to completely change. He genuinely loves her and I can see he's missed her when he's been at work. I just don't know how to make him see things from my perspective as I know he thinks he is doing a fair amount. I don't think it's just the physical things like nappy changes I want help with though. It's more a sense of shared responsibility when he's home rather than me being the responsible one all the time. I don't even know if I'm making much sense.

DoubleCarrick Mon 15-May-17 04:33:08

I get what you're saying, op. I have a 4 month old and my dh, to be fair to him, is fab with the baby and does a fair amount round the house but I still feel similar to you. DS has started refusing the occasional bottle and now only really wants to settle for me in the evenings. I feel envious that as I'm the primary carer, ds needs to be my first thought whereas dh has a certain element of freedom.

It's a weird one but it does sound like your husband needs to pull his socks up

LastMangoInPeckham Mon 15-May-17 04:35:53

This is fairly common I reckon, and I could have written this about my DP when my DC were babies.

He has loved them all...but has not really been that engaged in the early months. This isn't helped by fact that I have EBF so have been the one babies want /need for food and comfort.

For me, things got better as the children got older and more 'interesting'. I have been ok to put in more work with the babies so long as DP grafted in other areas (laundry, cleaning etc) Our youngest is 5 months and I am fairly accepting of the current imbalance as I know things will change.

With the older kids, our roles as parents became more equal again as they grew up, and things feel much more shared.

I'm not saying that you should put up with anything that makes you unhappy, or goes against your values as a parent. I'm just letting you know my experience and saying it may get much easier in time.



LastMangoInPeckham Mon 15-May-17 04:37:47

Ha ha, seems our babies all up for a feed at the same time! Anyone else got a DP snoring next to them?!

TeaIsTheCure Mon 15-May-17 04:44:38

Believe it or not our little one sleeps through most nights so it's only the rage keeping me awake tonight.
Thanks for the reassurance - I'll have to speak to him again about it but I struggle to articulate exactly why I'm so angry.

LastMangoInPeckham Mon 15-May-17 08:51:56

Well good luck with the conversation. Maybe instead of telling him what it is you don't like, just ask him to do more of what you would like? I.e. bath baby. Bear in mind he may not know what to do with baby or how to play, so doing it together might help to begin with.

I'll try not to be disheartened that I'm still up every 3 hours in the night

springydaffs Mon 15-May-17 09:25:16

I'll have to speak to him again about it but I struggle to articulate exactly why I'm so angry.

Take winteriseverywhere's advice at 04.17, above.


BluePeppers Mon 15-May-17 09:35:54

Yep. He isnt feeling responsible for his baby.
Thatnis yur responsibility all yours. He. Is only HELPING, hence he can switch off.

I would recommend going away and leaving him with baby for the day or even better for the weekend. Regularly.
I would also recommend not jumping as soon as your DC cried but actually waiting for him to get up and do something.
I would make himresponsible of thinking about the nappies and foods tontake when you go away and then let him deal with not having enough of them.
In effect, step back. Let him be the responsible one and let him deal with baby.

One word though. When you do that, let him do things his way. It might not be 'as good', it will be different than what you do. But let him try and experiment, just as yu have done yourself.

BluePeppers Mon 15-May-17 09:38:59

You can also add mental work to emotional work.
Mental work is all the planning ahead, thinking about the immunisations and how are we going to deal with baby sleeping when we are at PIL house. It's thinking about the introducing weaning and how are we going to get about it, what sort food would be best to start with and oh, she has been abit sick? Is it because if the weaning???
And I really need to buy some milk when I am out for a walk with her etc

In effect,it's all the thinking about that comes with looking after someone who utterly and totally depent on yu.

Neverknowing Mon 15-May-17 09:46:00

I personally don't think this is normal? My partner does more with DD (six months) than me when he's home, he holds her and plays with her while I cook etc and will do her night time routine with her every other night. Maybe you could suggest he does the night routine? Even if you're the one to get baby to sleep him doing the night routine is bonding and gives you half an hour to yourself smile

Neverknowing Mon 15-May-17 09:49:07

I also agree with PP about not going to baby straight away when they cry and letting him go to the baby. I think doing this helped my DP realise, he wasn't just helping me, the baby was his responsibility too. I also BF so it felt like I was doing everything and because I was the only one who could settle her, he assumed I woukd get her. It got better as she got older and there was more he could do though!

corythatwas Mon 15-May-17 10:13:13

user1486956786 Mon 15-May-17 04:12:08
"I do think this is very very very common. Some men are not naturals others are. Whether right or wrong depends on you"

And if the mother also decides she is not a "natural" is it ok for her to shirk her responsibilities too? Baby just has to socialise itself?

I hate these suggestions that men only have to be fathers when and as they feel like it. They usually go hand in hand with the suggestion that if a woman doesn't feel like parenting her child, she has PND and should go and see a doctor. Medicalisation for one group and complete letting off the hook for the other.

springydaffs Mon 15-May-17 10:30:25

Great point cory

user1486956786 Mon 15-May-17 12:37:53

Cory, what I'm suggesting is very different to PND.

I'm suggesting some men are not naturally programmed to know what to do, therefore they find it more difficult and act like this. One example, majority of little girls have dolls, and naturally play mummy from a very young age whereas majority of boys don't. And I'm sure there are of course some women who are not naturals and find it difficult too.

I am not letting him off the hook, I'm not suggesting men can be fathers when they like but he may need more help learning to do the practical stuff such as soothe, bath and play with baby. OP has said he clearly loves her and helps with house work, he's going to work everyday, I don't think he's doing a terrible job.

stitchglitched Mon 15-May-17 13:06:22

Who goes out for 'me time' 3-4 times a week when they have a young baby at home? At that stage it is all hands on deck. I can remember practically throwing my babies at DP when he walked through the door so I could have a break, bath, use the loo in peace.

And the idea that women are somehow naturally more programmed to know what to do is sexist nonsense that just perpetuates the sort of crap that the OP is putting up with.

BluePeppers Mon 15-May-17 13:15:35

user or maybe it's because it's a lot fo work and work that is seen as not worthwhile.
Or maybe they see that the mother's responsibility.

There is nothing natural about being a mother. Having found it extremely hard myself, I can tell you that it has nothing to do with being nautrally inclined to be caring towards that child or not. It has a lot to do with a sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of the child.
When you feel responsible, and you don't think that someone is going to step in for you anyway, you do all those things, even when it doesn't come naturally or it's hard work.
Because when you took the decision of bringing a child into the world, you also took that responsibility. Mother or father alike.

NotTheBelleoftheBall Mon 15-May-17 13:22:23

What you're describing is fairly common amongst my friends. So much of it is down to personality and the dyanmics of a relationship. Some men
people take on parental responsibility more easily than others.

It really is a case of what works for you and your family, and it's clear that the status-quo isn't working for you.

DH and I have a real 50/50 relationship, I took 7 months maternity leave and DH took the remaining 5 months. We each work the same sort of hours at work (though I squeeze my working week into four longer days), we each do approximately the same amount of housework and cooking (I tend to take the lead in tidying and shopping, he tends to cook more and do day-to-day tidying). Feeding, changing, bath and bedtimes are shared.

But this is down to two factors, the fact I need to work (for my sanity but mainly for the money) and the fact that DH is naturally very nurturing.

I guess the best approach is to work out what you want, and then tell him - and work from there. It could be that you want a lie-in every other Sunday and a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon to yourself. Or that you want him to take-on 50% of bath and bedtimes, or you want 30 minutes every evening - but be clear in your head what YOU need to make it feel fair and balanced.

It's easy to read alarm bells into the 'huffing and puffing' but babies can be REALLY annoying, especially if you don't feel like you know what to do to entertain them. I'm not saying you should treat him like the man-child he's behaving as, but giving him some tips on how you keep DD occupied might help, maybe he just doesn't know that she likes to be sung 'row row row your boat' or likes to play peep-bo with a muslin. The more tactics he has up his sleeve the easier he'll find looking after her.

TeaIsTheCure Mon 15-May-17 13:34:53

I don't think he's intentionally being sexist but i think that is what this boils down to - maybe not consciously but he does see me as 'the mother' therefore the primary care giver with him in support role (albeit not massively successfully). I think it's this that is really pissing me off to be honest.

Prior to kids our relationship was genuinely equal - together for a long time, mutual respect and support for each of our careers, no sense of traditional male/female roles in the house. It's the loss of this equality that feels so disappointing.

I do wonder whether the fact I'm breastfeeding makes it feel natural to him for me to be on call all the time and easier for him to back off?

Definitely going to speak to him later armed with some more positive ways to explain how I'm feeling so thank you everyone. I'll also try to give him time and room to step up.

BluePeppers Mon 15-May-17 18:42:41

Good luck with your talk.

I have found too that DH took a back seat when the dcs were born and what was an equal relationship became much more unequal.
Being might have something to do with it, but I think it's the ML that did it. You are ta home and therefore doing more of all those 'womanly' tasks.
I know DH did less and less, slowly, sometimes not even really noticeable. And then got really angry when I was pointing it out.

I found the going back up to a more equal relationship a very steep hill TBH. There is the fact he wasn't used to do so much any more, the fact there was much more to do (but he hadn't realised and didn't want to more than before) and the fact that all around him, the society at large is telling him it's normal not to do so much when he comes home from a hard day at work....

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