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The kids don't like DH.

(46 Posts)
plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 09:18:22

DH is lovely but quite grumpy at the moment and doesn't put up with any nonsense. He is also sometimes a bit rough with the kids - not violent or anything but gets them dressed too quickly, or picks them up and dumps them in the bath rather than persuading them to get in, for example.

I'm a SAHM and much softer on them - partly, I confess, because I can't hack it when everyone's yelling but mostly because I think it's nicer to make things fun than just impose my will on them.

DH works quite long hours so doesn't see much of them during the week but never works weekends so sees a lot of them then.

Last night DD1 (4y) asked if daddy was working late and when I said he was she cheered and said 'yaay! We don't have to see daddy! I hate daddy!' sad I told her off for saying she hates him and she was quite remorseful afterwards, but I know they would both always rather be with me and it makes me really sad.

I appreciate 4y olds bandy words about all over the place so I'm not too worried about the hating thing but does anyone have any experience of this? Is there a way I can get them to be closer? I know DH would be upset if he heard DD1 say she hates him. He is good at reading stories and teaching them things if you see what I mean but I want them to be friends!

Piecesofmyheart Wed 06-Feb-13 09:23:28

He might be upset but he needs to know the effect his behaviour is having on them. Its quite worrying to hear you talk about him man handling them into a bath. I would suggest a serious chat and some research into local parenting classes.

pictish Wed 06-Feb-13 09:25:48

Out of the mouths of babes eh?

look - your dh's conduct is impacting on them...and who can blame them....rought treatment is instinctively not enjoyable.

I have some experience of grumpy. Grump seldom goes hand in hand with lovely.

claudedebussy Wed 06-Feb-13 09:27:55

you should tell him.

and i don't see why your dd should feel guilty about the way she feels about him. sounds quite justified! although i'm sure she doesn't actually hate him.

but he does need to stop the rough treatment. it's not good.

plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 09:31:34

Ok I clearly need to have a talk with him.

I don't expect DD to feel guilty about how she feels by the way - I told her off because we've been having a lot of 'hating' people lately and I want her to know what a strong word it is. And it wasn't a shouty telling off but an explainy one. But I probably should've said that before.

pictish Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:46

Bet he won't want to hear it.
He will say it's OP's fault. That they feel that way because she is too soft. It will be swiftly turned around so she is responsible for the kids rightful displeasure with their dad.

I should think she's already made her feelings known before, and been handed her arse as a result.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 06-Feb-13 09:36:44

Sounds like you need to meet in the middle. Neither approach is the right one. 'Making things fun' and thinking that 'explainy' is the same as being told off can very easily mean you end up with spoilt brats who will find anyone else who tries to impose any authority - and I include teachers in that - offensive. So you have to find a middle ground between you.

pictish Wed 06-Feb-13 09:37:25

Also true.

GreatUncleEddie Wed 06-Feb-13 09:41:56

It's pretty normal for blokes to have a more "businesslike" method of dealing with them. We like to think we are right, of course. But maybe we pander a bit too much sometimes. Very normal for the kids to feel like this when they are young, IMO. It changes when they get older, often. And I think it happens in most families. Not all, but most.

PoppyWearer Wed 06-Feb-13 09:47:32

My DH is also seldom around during the week and definitely stricter with the DCs than I am, so have had a few of the issues you describe, OP.

My 4yo also sometimes says she doesn't want Daddy. But when it comes to the crunch, she will still go to him at night (I am often looking after her younger brother in the night) and does still ask him for bedtime stories on the rare occasions he gets home in time.

Yes, you do need to say something. I have mentioned it to my DH a few times, just asking him to be kinder to the DCs (and to me). He has a high-pressure job where he needs to be firm and also angry when needed to get stuff done, but I remind him when needed that it's ok to revert to being the softie/silly daddy he is underneath when he's at home.

I agree with what Cogito said about needing to meet in the middle and be stricter too, but I know it's difficult when you are one parent most of the week.

plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 09:53:21

Thanks for the advice.

I'm happy that I don't have a problem being strict when necessary - well, perhaps I could be a bit stricter but I'm not a pushover - I just think sometimes an explainy telling -off such as gravely asking what exactly 'hate' means - is the more appropriate response.

But yes I think we do need to meet in the middle a bit.

OxfordBags Wed 06-Feb-13 09:56:02

Children need to be able to say they hate people, even their ownparents. Especially,perhaps, their own parents. It's not nice to hear, but it's not about a child being mean-spirited, it's purely just about expressing negative feelings they can't express anyother way. Children are allowed to use strong words, you know. They have powerful emotions, so it's not fair to deny them the use of powerful words. They can't always be nice; you come across as someone for whom things being nice all the time is v important (nothing wrong with that, but it's not possible). I suspect, however, that might not be so important if your OH was nicer himself.

If I was 4, I'd hate someone who was rough with me like that. It's not only physically unpleasant, it's scary, threatening, makes you feel naughty when you're doing nothing wrong, makes you feel like you're some annoying process the parent has to get over and dne withinstead of being a person and above all, it totally negates the fact that the child is a person too, with rights and feelings. How would HE feel if a giant barged into your bathroom, grabbed him and plonked him in the bath, because he deemed your OH was taking too long to get in? It's so humiliating.

It's also unfair that Daddy gets to be so grumpy and brusque but the DC are not even allowed to use 'strong' words. The hypocrisy is awful and will create more and more resentment in them. This tells them that men/adults are allowed to be as horrid as they like but they must deny their own feelings. Not great and especially not great for shaping their future. He really, really needs to sort it out. I bet he's not like this with anyone else. He's using his own children to vent his anger, or as an arena where he permits himself to wallow and indulge in his anger. It's abusive. It might be low-level abuse, but it is totally unacceptable behaviour.

The way to make them closer is for him to drastically change his behaviour and approach and to make amends. It is not for the children to change to accept this unacceptable behaviour. That'll just teach DD, in particular, to be a potential future abuse victim. All the change has to come from him; when he stops being hateful, they will stop hating him. It's as simple and as hard as that.

BTW, I think your explainy approach is far better than his.

Cocolollip Wed 06-Feb-13 10:10:31

Absolutely agree with everything OxfordBags said.. Brilliant post and great advice.

Children learn from their elders, DD is feeling threatened and rejected and that's why she's having negative feelings towards her father.
This is easily rectifiable though.

I strongly agree you need to have a chat with your DH.

Good luck x

babyhammock Wed 06-Feb-13 10:44:19

Another one who thought Oxfordbags post was spot on. Children are humans just like everyone else but quite a few adults seem to think it is perfectly ok to speak and treat them in a quite frankly disrespectful nasty way and expect everything to be absolutely fine.

If I was treated like that I'd be understandably very relieved said person was working late.

Plantsitter you sound lovely by the way smile

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 06-Feb-13 11:24:28

Loved OxfordBags' post too.

When I was 4 or 5, I remember telling my mother that I didn't like my father. When I was 11, I remember telling my uncle that my father was "useless". Both times, the adults I was confiding in made me feel that I was a bad person for saying these things.

20+ years on and many abusive relationships later, I have come to recognise that my child self spoke the truth, and deserved to have her feelings heard and respected.

Don't invalidate what your DD is telling you.

Children adore their parents, and for a pre-teen child to express negative feelings about a parent means that there is a big emotional struggle happening within her.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 12:48:22

Totally, 100% agree with OxfordBags.

Also, there is a huge difference between being strict, which means you stick to your guns and set clear boundaries, and being rough and unpleasant. You can be very strict while still being totally good-natured and never uttering a harsh word or using physical force. Someone being small or young is no reason to think you can disrespect them or push them around. And, to refer to Eddie's post, excusing nasty behaviour because the perpetrator is a man makes absolutely no sense. If a dad isn't very good at managing behaviour because he doesn't see the children much then he needs to learn and improve, not just carry on being a bully and expect everyone to put up with it. Plenty of dads, including my own DH, manage to be kind, gentle and strict. I have never seen my DH be anything even approaching rough with my DS and I wouldn't tolerate it if I did.

OP I can understand your reaction to the word "hate" but it doesn't make sense to tell someone off for how they feel - it's not up to you to dictate how your children react to things. If she had said "Daddy is horrible" or something like that, that would deserve a telling off because she is criticising someone else in a nasty way, but saying she hates him, while extreme, is how she feels and isn't open to negotiation. It is worth having a talk about the word "hate" and how strong it is, but I don't agree with telling her off, as expressing feelings isn't wrong or naughty. It would be more worthwhile exploring why she uses the word "hate" especially in relation to her father.

plantsitter Wed 06-Feb-13 13:20:03

Some sensible advice - thank you, especially you Oxford Bags.

I think I will have a chat with DD1 next time this comes up. I probably had a reaction to the word 'hate' and although I do think she needs to understand what a strong word it is, I certainly don't think she shouldn't use it but I would rather she understood exactly what she was saying. However I do need to listen to her feelings too.

Will be easier to talk to DH too if I can quote DD - without saying she hates him but explaining exactly how she feels.

I actually feel a bit disloyal for starting this thread so I'm going to take the very useful advice given and go away and think about it now. And I will be taking action.

Thanks again.

Dryjuice25 Wed 06-Feb-13 13:24:31

Oxfordbags speaks the truth

gottasmile Wed 06-Feb-13 13:44:45

I really would take that advice. I hope your DH will take it on board.

Hotdamn, (just to hijack a little) I'd love to know what you advise in this situation.

My ds doesn't like his dad and never wants him to come on outings with us. He used to be a bit like op's dh. He's just turned 9 and dh has been a lot better for about 3 years, but I don't think he's ever forgotten.

Now dh tries really hard with ds but ds doesn't want to know. He avoids him and barely acknowledges him.

It's so sad and I put ds into therapy and dh was supposed to give him 10 minutes of attention every day, but it didn't last long. I have a feeling it was too little too late anyway.

Some wise words would be welcomed, even though I know it's a very complex problem.

Sorry again for the hijack.

gottasmile Wed 06-Feb-13 13:46:42

Sorry, I should have said Hotdamn and Oxfordbags and others!

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 06-Feb-13 14:07:53

Are you asking for advice on how to improve the relationship between your DS and your DH? The answer to that lies in your DH's behaviour, and in his core beliefs (which will be translated in his behaviour). You say DH hasn't followed through on a commitment to give your DS 10 minutes (!) of attention every day. That says a lot about what his core beliefs are vis a vis the respect he should give his son. Your son is no fool and can sense that very well.

If you are asking for advice on how to validate your DS's feelings, then it's a question of asking him open questions and listening to his answers, making it clear that he is entitled to feel the way he feels, that you hear him when he says he is angry, hurt, etc, and that you are sorry that he is angry, hurt, etc.

gottasmile Fri 08-Feb-13 12:55:53

Thank you, Hotdamnlifeisgood.

I think deep down I know this, sometimes it makes me so sad that he can't be bothered. I get really angry with dh sometimes, I do blame him.

I will take on board your advice regarding ds's feelings. He really does have a right to fob him off. I'm just so sad for our family and wish it could be different.

OP I hope you've manged to have a good talk to your dh. I would hate for any other child to have such a difficult relationship with their father. It won't be a happy situation if you let it continue... I speak from experience unfortunately.

HeyHoHereWeGo Fri 08-Feb-13 14:24:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

plantsitter Fri 08-Feb-13 18:02:27

I don't keep insisting she doesn't. I think she does need to understand what it means to say she hates someone - and if she does, fine. I have already said I probably had a reaction to the word hate and could've handled it better.

And well done for finding the universal world-wide best way to get children into the bath.

I had a chat to DD about it and she explained why she sometimes doesn't like daddy. And then I had a very productive chat with DH who has asked me to tell him when I think he's being too grumpy or rough when it happens, even if it feels like undermining him.

We have quite different approaches to parenting but I think that can be a good thing. I need to be clearer about what we shouldn't compromise on.

Thank you for the good advice; it has helped clarify what I felt in the first place.

pictish Fri 08-Feb-13 18:07:32

Oooh clever daddy, making mummy take responsibility for daddy's behaviour by having her agree to police it for him as if he were a child himself.
Of course, you know it's all empty words, and he will just shout you down when you try, don't you?

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