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2 y.o. doesn't respect DH- this is getting out of hand!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

My 2 y.o. DD is the sweetest kid in the world most of the time - quiet, polite, and frankly kinda timid. She is generally really easy to control (knock on wood), doesn't throw tantrums much, and is pretty chill. I work part time, and so two days a week DH looks after her.

She's usually pretty good with DH, but when she decides to act out, he doesn't seem to be able to do a thing about it! He lets her walk all over him, and, as a result, she really does not respect his authority at all. It doesn't even occur to her to do what he asks. He can't get her to nap, eat, or use the potty. We've had potty accidents all over the house on his days, but she won't wear a diaper for him either - she just takes it off. All these things are NO ISSUE with me, my parents, and the babysitter.

She's also really mean to him a lot of the rest of the time. She won't let him carry her or help her with anything. It always has to be mommy (or granddad, or some random visitor... anyone but daddy). She throws a screaming fit if she's made to do anything with him. He's pretty sensitive, and takes this really personally. I've always told him she'll "grow out of it"... but she's 2 now. When will this end?

He does love her - sometimes they have a lot of fun together, tickling and laughing and playing. But this is always when I'm around, and when she's in a perfect mood. Ideal circumstances, in other words.

I've explained to him that he needs to be firm, but it's almost too little, too late. His "firm" and "angry" attitude seems more like whining, and she just laughs it off. When he does decide to really put his foot down and insist, it's over the stupidest things and she just winds up having a total screaming meltdown. Suffice to say, he has the parenting instincts of a boulder. None of this comes naturally to him AT ALL. But he has to look after her those two days a week, and we need some solutions for him.

He is definitely a timid kind of guy. I wear the pants in the house, and DD definitely accepts me as the authoritarian. So getting him to change his behavior towards her is hard - he just can't seem to wield power, ykwim? Is there some other way we can address the issue? I've tried telling DD before I go to work that she has to listen to him, but she actually just looks at him and says "no". And what then? If I insist, she's just bowing to *my* authority and it all vaporizes as soon as I'm out of the house.

Any help or advice is appreciated. Among other things, DH is getting really depressed about the whole thing. I want more kids and he's giving me a lot of resistance because he is discovering he "doesn't like being a father". Ouch. I worry about how this relationship will develop as DD gets older too.
post #2 of 5
She's 2! She's still a baby. You just can't take anything personally at that age--she's not doing it on purpose, she's not "being mean" and cannot fully comprehend hurting other people's feelings. All kids go through phases of preferring or favoring one parent over another...so yes: she'll grow out of it!

Would your dh read a book? The Happiest Toddler on the Block, or even Unconditional Parenting, or the Sears Discipline Book--others may have other suggestions, but it might help him find some tools that work for him and his personality. I think it's fantastic that he doesn't know how to wield power, lol! But it sounds like he's a bit lost and could use some guidance as he finds his way (couldn't we all! )
post #3 of 5
I would look at differences in the way each of you structures the day. For example, if you spend a lot of time home with DD & doing structured activities, maybe DH can incorporate some of that into his day. If you have a routine you follow, he should follow the same one (maybe with minor changes, maybe he takes her to the library at the time you would take her to playgroup). Or if you have no routine or structure, then he should do the same. I don't know if he's already doing that but figured I'd mention it in case he isn't. If you don't have a routine, you might find it easier on DH if you create one, so when you're gone DD knows what to expect. Have a chart on the wall showing pictures of the routine -- then it becomes not "listening to daddy" but instead "what's next on our chart? oh we just had snack so now we go to the potty & then we'll get in the car."

I'd also avoid the idea of "respecting authority" at this age... My DS is a few months younger but our day isn't about listening to mommy & daddy, it's about mommy & daddy listening to DS & responding to his cues & his needs. The authority thing just sounds like a set up for major power struggles IMHO...

Also find fun things they can do together. Sign them up for a swimming class or leave an art project out the night before that they can do together. Find things DH would enjoy and try to incorporate your DD into them -- maybe he can take her to a football game or teach her to play catch... things that would make him feel, wow I love being a dad. Ask him how he envisions a "perfect" fatherhood and then incorporate those ideas into each day.
post #4 of 5
I may be way off here, but he sounds a little bit like my dad. My dad has the social graces of a "boulder" to borrow your term, and is quiet much of the time. He also has a very hard time standing up for himself. He has gotten better in the last 30+ years, but it has taken many, many years.

Sadly, I'm not sure what advice to give you, as your DH has to decide to change. And changing like that is hard. I can tell you that your daughter *wants* him to take charge. And she will like him more, and respect him more if he does. Because your DH is letting your DD run all over him, *she* is in effect the parent with him. I know that was the way I felt with my dad. Because my dad wouldn't take charge, I always felt that things were out of control with him. If he wasn't taking charge/in control, and I as the child certianly wasn't, then who was? Of course my mom was when she was around (thank God for her) but when she wasn't I didn't feel very comfortable.

I apoligize if I'm way off here. We only get such a small window onto the problem through these posts, and then of course we tend to squew it in our own direction!

Good luck!
post #5 of 5
can you practice with your dh what to tell or do with your dd when she refuses to do things/says "no"/takes off her diapers?

my dh is not timid at all, but parenting and disciplining does not come natural at all to him! ex: say our ds throws food off his plate. my dh will say "no" then tell him if he keeps doing it, he is all done. of course, food is still being thrown. my dh will try to get him down from the chair, but my ds screams. so dh puts him back, and repeats the threat of no food. food is still being thrown, so my dh pulls the plate away and tries to feed him from his own plate! get the picture? finally we had to role play so my dh would be ready with clear and precise response to whatever ds is doing, like if he says throwing food = getting off the chair, then thats what happens.
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