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How can I help DH have a good relationship with DS?

(10 Posts)
NaughtyDolly Thu 11-Apr-13 09:02:22

Long story short, we have had a horrible 18months with DS1's behaviour, culminating in his being put on a reduced timetable at school, with lots of visits from professionals and talk of an ASD.

Although DS (who is 4.8) has not had a dx yet, from talking to these professionals, I have recognised DS's behaviour patterns in so much of what I have been told that I am pretty much convinced he is somewhere on the spectrum.

Can't tell you what a relief it was two weeks ago when a professional finally told me that if he does have an ASD then time outs won't work. Trying to discipline DS and being told again and again about reward charts, behaviour sanctions and that he "just has to learn who's boss" was ruining our family life, particularly as he is now at home a lot more on the reduced timetable.

As a SAHM, obviously the lion's share of dealing with DS falls to me, so the past fortnight, I have switched my approach from discipline to spotting the things that trigger the outbursts and diffusing them. This has involved a lot of cajoling, distracting, calming and cuddles, and has, I think, been pretty successful. From my point of view, the calmness levels in our house have increased a hundredfold.

However, DH coming home is a bit of a trigger for DS. DH works long hours at a physical job and is always tired. I'll give a couple of examples of how things go.

DH's approach to this is very different to mine. He sees my distractions as rewards for DS's bad behaviour. For instance DS was on the verge of a tantrum yesterday because he wanted to help DH pour boiling water onto some veg for tea. Obviously he can't do this, but being told no is a definite trigger. He yelled "I WANT TO!" and threw something. I said "Ooh look, DS, Daddy got some plums while he was at the supermarket, would you like one after tea?" DS brightened up and said yes. DH immediately said "No, you can't have one because you threw something." Cue an escalation to hitting DH and screaming on the floor. DH immediately threatened with a time out. Which of course we had agreed we wouldn't do any more. DH leaves and sits in the bedroom for half an hour to cool down.

Later, DS was in the bath, and he hates washing his hair as he is scared of the water going in his face. Both DSes were in there, splashing about and generally being funny and lovely. I called DH in to share in the fun but it was obvious that the hijinks were annoying him. Once the issue of a hairwash arose, DS clammed up and started acting up as he always does. I managed to get him to wet his hair and get the shampoo on, but obviously the main problem is the rinsing.

DH went to the kitchen and got a huge saucepan full of water. On seeing it, DS freaked out. DH said "if you don't have this, I'll have to use the shower", which DS is deathly afraid of. He screamed until DH got cross with him, emptied the pan and stomped out.

After that, I calmed DS down, had a chat about how he would like us to do it, and then persuaded him to let me use a cup. Then I showed him how it wouldn't go in his eyes if he tipped his head back etc (which he obviously does know, but it seems as though he has to be talked down every bath time!).

I don't know if I am doing the right thing in either situation. I am such a SN noob that I haven't got a clue if my approach is the right one, but it seems to me as though the important thing is that we are calm as a family. Yeah, I'm pandering, but being tough does not work.

After the kids were in bed, DH said he feels like all he ever does is shout at DS. He thinks he is doing the same things that I am, but that DS is just not responding because it is him.

I explained things from my perspective and he got really cross and said "you think it's all my fault?" which obviously I don't. I just think he needs to back off on the discipline and start seeing this for what it is, which I thought he was. He definitely agrees that DS has some sort of problem.

I suggested that he spend some more 1 to 1 time with DS to build up their relationship a bit (at the moment, I feel as though when he is at home, I am shielding him from DS and vice versa) and he said he didn't see the point. He thought DS would just spend the time hitting him.

The other side to this of course is that I spend 24/7 dealing with the kids. This week I have had a driving lesson and my hair cut, (an hour and a half total) and DH thinks this is a break. I have a rotten cold, the house is a mess and I haven't had time alone in months.

Worst of all is that every time I raise this, DH says that if I can't cope then we shouldn't have any more kids. He knows that I would love another baby in the future. Obviously I am not thinking of ttc in the near future, but I feel as though we are in the early stages of dealing with DS's SN and that things will get better.

I am so sorry to have gone on so long, I just feel really alone at the moment. DH and I used to be best friends and now I feel as though DS is between us. Every time I talk to my mum about it she says it's "just men" and says it's a woman's lot to deal with all of this.

I want to be a happy family and have good times together, but at the moment I feel as though I have good times with the kids and DH has bad ones.

Thank you for reading all of this.

PolterGooseLaidAChocolateEgg Thu 11-Apr-13 09:27:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NaughtyDolly Thu 11-Apr-13 09:58:42

Thank you so much for that. So nice to know I am not the only one. Things have been so much more positive here lately that I don't want to start feeling as though my marriage is in trouble.

I really hope as we progress through the system then professionals will back up what I have been saying. Discipline and punishments will not change DS's behaviour.

Already over the past two weeks, DS has been able to say to me when he finds something too noisy or too scary where before he would have been tantrumming and screaming. How can DH see this as a bad thing?

I feel as though he doesn't respect me, that I am babying DS or making him a mummy's boy. Maybe when we get a dx that will change too.

Thanks again, so nice to hear someone else has been where I am now.

zzzzz Thu 11-Apr-13 10:05:46

No time to post till later as the children are going bananas, but just wanted to say "Hmmmm, how VERY familiar!"

Of course you are not alone.

Will do boring jobs and deal with mayhem then be back.

WaitingForStatement Thu 11-Apr-13 10:13:49

Seems to be a common theme with DHs. Don't think mine gets it yet either. Like you, OP, it's not that I think my approach is necessarily right, but I can see where he goes wrong. We are doing a course together, but it won't be til Sept, but I am hoping this will help.

WaitingForStatement Thu 11-Apr-13 10:15:39

Lol just read the 'woman's lot' bit. We have the same mum as well as the same DH! I don't want to be some sort of worn down martyred angel, I want us to work together to help our son!

bubblesinthebath Thu 11-Apr-13 10:54:26

grin Same here, I have had the roll eyes followed by the "that's men dear" it used to make my blood boil now I think the same!. In all honesty I have given up trying with DH and tend to 'suggest' things that he can do at times when I know there will be conflict and then when Ds is really calm afterwards DH gets a little glimpse at the chilled Ds. I must admit I am getting very good at spotting the signs of Ds's building up for a meltdown....quickly distract DH....then relaxing my Ds....sadly I feel absolutely mentally drained by the end of the day. Throughout our Dc's lives I have been trying to get DH more involved to see the delights, to get to know his Dc. Now I rather it when he spends his time doing his own thing, as you have said he escalates matters. I would go as far as to say I treat him the same as I would my Ds confused. Playing up to his ego has worked a bit too. Last year everything came to a head and he told me he felt like a nobody in the household he just goes to work to pay the bills (that will be because I need to be at home to help our AS Ds), nobody listened to him ie Ds (that will be because you only know how to shout), I baby Ds (that will be because he is years behind his chronological age), he needs more discipline (which he has used for 2 years and hasn't made an ounce of difference, just made matters worse but he can't see that) blah blah blah. So I made things better by just doing everything myself, unfortunatly the last fathers day card my son made was addressed to me inside.....which didn't go down to well either hmm.

Meanwhile flowers you are doing a cracking job, these things are sent to try us, And try us they do! But you will find it makes you stronger and you will find a way to adapt things so you do get the happy family life you want smile.

zzzzz Thu 11-Apr-13 11:41:13

The "woman's lot" thing made me giggle too!

I do think that it is the nature of things that if you are at work all day with adults it is hard to "step down" to dealing with children. The interaction becomes more heavy on the "bossing" side of discipline and less on the "nurturing/empathising" side. Add neurological sn into the mix and the need for different parenting techniques than your own upbringing and peers children and it all becomes an endless source of conflict.

zzzzz Thu 11-Apr-13 12:16:07

Some things that I think.

Nurturing a good relationship between your son and his df is probably the single biggest gift that you can give him. That may mean separating them sometimes or allowing them to muddle through. It may mean dealing with the aftermath of things going awry or listening to your own insights being thrown back at you either as rubbish or as some new and marvellous idea. It is very trying.

The scenarios you describe above are so familiar it's slightly freaky!

Some ideas.

If Dh coming home has become a trigger for fall out try to structure that bit of ds's day a bit more. You could for example make it ds's job to make tea for Daddy when he comes in. Dh can make this better by perhaps letting ds play with his phone while he drinks the tea. Plan with Dh what he thinks would be nice when he comes in.

While distracting is good I think ignoring throwing/bad behaviour is not such a great idea in my opinion. Perhaps a firm "no throwing" then plum talk? It isn't necessary to punish or reward every action, but labelling it can be very helpful.

Using a child's fear of water to push him into doing what he's told is horrid. Ds needs to be taught to overcome his fear not threatened into it. Perhaps better if Dh does drying and dressing than bath? Or maybe just uses that time to chill, that sounds like he is too tired to be kind?

Dh must feel so sad if he thinks ds will only respond to you. Try and find something they can do that is dh's thing he's good at with ds. Let him tell you how to handle it. We all need to feel valued and good at the things we do, more so with our parenting. Mine does reading. Make them flash cards etc to work through and use the time to go outside and breath.

My ds is 8 now and while we are still working on the same old issues, there is progress and it is easier.

NoPinkPlease Sat 13-Apr-13 20:45:07

Are you me?! So so familiar. Not found a way through yet... so watching this thread with interest! Just to say, though, you sound like you're doing a great job :-)

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