I was hoping someone here could help me understand what is going on at our house at the moment. My four year old daughter is extremely whiny, she fights us over everything and is aggressive with her 19 month old sister, oh and the screaming but only on the weekend when my husband is here. The moment he leaves for work on Monday morning she is cooperative and sweet with her sister, she has her moments if she's tired, hungry ect and she is definitely spirited but on the whole we've found our ways to cope and it goes ok.
We both try hard to be respectful of our daughter and we know that when she is acting out it's because she is hurting over something or other, but we spend time with her one on one, we don't force her to share, we involve her in planning our days and try to help her feel empowered and now I'm just feeling very resentful, in fact I'm at the point where I just don't like her at the moment. My husband and I spend very little time together and when we are together it's so tense here. We have no family time that is happy or joyful.
Why is she doing this? I thought it might be that she feels safer when my husband is home and so gets her emotions out, but I do allow her to have emotions during the week. Another theory I have is that she feels overpowered by two adults in the house? Has anybody else had this experience
I just gave her a lecture this morning and now I'm feeling awful about it, I'm so so tired of this though. This is the worse part of it all, I'm becoming a horrible parent and I'm tired of feeling guilty and resentful. I'm thinking of going away next weekend just me and the baby to get a break, I haven't before for fear of my four year old being jealous and making things worse but it might still be better that way.
Not sure if I have any answers for you, but at least I can tell you that you're not alone. We seem to be going through something similar with our 3 y.o. son. When DH is home (which is frequent, as he works from home), I feel things get very stressful, with DS becoming whiny and wanting Dad's attention when Dad is trying to work. But when DH is out of the house, things become remarkably easier. DS becomes more cooperative, and I am more focused on my parenting, rather than crowd control (sometimes in our house, 4 people can seem like a crowd). Just yesterday, I noticed that DS was fine, until DH emerged from his office, and then DS immediately became difficult.
Now, I have to add that DH is a terrific father and role model, and I believe myself to be a good mother. And we all love each other very much. Perhaps there is some shift in the dynamics when the second parent enters the room that a young child reacts to in a not-so-pleasant manner. It must be somewhat overwhelming to a little one who is trying to cope with his/her feelings. And while things are often great when we're all together, sometimes it's easier when I'm looking after the kids myself and DH is off somewhere else taking care of his responsibilities.
I've also become painfully aware of how difficult it is to have adult relations of any kind with my husband when DS is around. DS doesn't even want us talking to each other on any subject manner. And intimacy? What's that???? Things have certainly been feeling a little cramped around here lately.
DS also has a baby sister who he loves, but at times is too aggressive towards. He hasn't developed the level of empathy where he realizes it's not right to hurt another person. I try to explain this to him, but he often responds with "but I WANT her to cry!" Not sure if I should be worried about this behaviour, or if he will eventually learn (through his parents telling and demonstrating to him over and over again) that it is not acceptable.
Sorry to not offer any solutions for you, RAM3, but I myself am at the stage of parenting where I have more questions than answers. Sigh... it often seems frustrating and exhausting for me and no doubt for DH as well. I'm lucky enough to have my parents close by, so we can pack up and head on over when DH really needs to focus on his work and I need to get out of the house. I hope you can find some coping remedy too.
For me the whole routine gets disrupted. And with loss of routine comes chaos. On top of it, it is a different parenting dynamic.
My DH works usually one day one the weekend and more often then not both. So for the kids and routine sake things are easier. When DH goes away for work for extended periods this ship sails the best it every does!
Now DH and I are on the same page when it comes to parenting and discipline. He is more fun yes and lets them do things I normally wouldn't but not in a bad way. Our base choices/dicisions are still the same.
I think the biggest issue for us is that the kids just want that attention and time with him because it is less then what they get with me.
But yes I do have happier, more relaxed and in tune children with a well oiled ship when he's away. It's a funny thing. But most of my friends all say the same thing.
Thank you so much for these replies, it's done me a world of good to hear you are experiencing the same thing and that it is normal!! Everything you all said sounds just as it is over here.
I think what you all said about routines really sounds right and I'm thinking of making Saturday I take the kids, Sunday DH takes them. Just for the time being. It is clearly Oedipus complex time around here too, which adds to it.
I've been worrying like mad because I've been thinking that she is keeping her feelings in for when her Dad is home and it proves that I'm not doing a good job with her or we have a bad relationship. Then I end up resenting her because it feels like I'm trying so hard and it's still not good enough. I realise I must be taking everything she does way too personally. It seems I've read every peaceful parenting book out there and I feel so guilty when I loose my temper and don't live up to my expectations. Sometimes I think I'd be better if I hadn't read all those books, the guilt is making everything way worse and maybe I'm not as bad as all that.
Thanks everyone, I needed this!
So now we either talk far in advance of what the weekend off might entail... Or I leave a list of 3-4 small things that I need done before the end of the weekend on a white board on the garage door. This way he knows what *I* need of him but there's no expectation on his time. He can plan to tackle the items when he has time in his plans or work them in. This also works for if one of the kids has a birthday party or other commitment.
I also simply just "back off" on the weekend days he is home. I sleep in while he and the kids hang out/make breakfast. If they go somewhere or watch a movie then they'll ask if I want to come or do with them.
I leave any expectations at the door. I try and ask that the house stay somewhat tidy in the process. This gives them their time to goof off and enjoy each other, gives DH his freedom to plan his days off and it gives me a break to do whatever. Sleep in, read, catch up on here, go shopping.
We make sure to have couple time most nights after the kids are in bed but it's not always for really long or every night. But it's nice when we get it.
I find this way we end up spending more time as a family too because DH often wants to do things that the kids and I normally wouldn't by ourselves. And with zero expectations then I can't be disappointed.
The other thing is the kids can get whineier with DH. So we really work on laying out expectations ahead of time. When they know what we're looking for them to do/act/behave/achieve it makes it easier on everyone. I do this every time before we go into a store or every night before they go to bed.
"Hey kids you need to play quietly in the morning because it's a sleep in day. You can grab some food and head to the playroom but let mom and dad sleep in." Or "hey guys in the morning you need toget ready for school before playing or watching tv" or "Hey guys we're going to the Dollar store. We need to pick a few things up. But there is to be no whining to buy anything or pouting. If there is we'll leave and you'll lose the priviledge of going shopping with me."
Oh, to be able to sleep in again! I imagine there will come a time when that will be possible, but until then I have to get up when DS does, and that is invariably at the crack of dawn. Sometimes it's difficult to maintain order and focus when I'm sleep deprived... but that is a matter for a whole other thread, I'm sure.
RAM3, I too live with the constant feeling that everything that is not perfect in our family is somehow a reflection of my parenting. Maybe parental guilt just comes with the territory? You are probably doing a way better job than you think you are!
The new baby will definitely change some things but probably not too much. By the time the baby doesn't want extended morning snuggles/nursing sessions my older two will be trying to sneak it off to play anyways
I guess "sleep in" isn't fully true though either. I'm usually awake and aware but dozing once they are up. I know where and what they are up to at all times, even when they think they are being super quiet
Weekends are hard here too.. We have 4 (ages 7, 5, 3, and 1) so when Daddy is home they ALL want his attention. At the same time, especially if he is doing something else. I love my husband but once the fighting/whining starts he goes into "Marine mode" and starts snapping orders like we are his Marines.. So here its a combo of different parenting techniques (my kiddos know to listen to me but I don't order them around, nor do I raise my voice like he has a tendency to do) and them wanting his attention. Its frustrating. He will go tell them to do something, they will tell him no and start arguing amongst themselves, Ill walk in and tell them to stop and do the same thing they were just told to do, they will stop and go on to do whatever it is that they needed to do. My 5yo is a VERY emotional (over the top emotional) child. If DH is home and she gets upset she won't let him talk to her, she just runs to me. Hurts his feeling and then I have to do with him being upset the kiddos don't listen and don't seem to want him around (his words, the kids really love him/miss him but they have a funny way of showing it). If he has to do ANYTHING during the weekend all of a sudden WWIII breaks out in the house. The kiddos almost never fight when he isn't home but they sure do make up for it when hes here!
Honestly sometimes I think he counts the time until Monday to escape the craziness. I keep telling him its not like that during the week while he is at work but hes told me he doesn't believe me. Maybe I should tape a day of activities for him to see they aren't usually like that.