Uncomfortable with how DH corrects children - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-13-2010, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So, DH and I are in a really bad place in our marriage - and I am trying to not let that effect my feelings on a couple of incidents yesterday. We have disagreements over child-rearing issues and discipline. I have tried not to intervene as much as I used to - because it was just causing us too many problems. I acknowledge I don't always know best - and that DH's relationship with his children is HIS relationship. While I lament that we are not more on the same page, "it is what it is".

So, here's the incidents of yesterday. We were in town as a family. One stop was the very small local farmers market. DD, who just turned 3, is dog-crazy. She had been asking if we could pet dogs- we would ask owners as appropriate and she would. Here came a greyhound on a leash. She got very excited. I reminded her to ask - the owner of dog was witnessing all and smiling and allowing his dog to approach dd. DH (unaware) grabs dd and kneels down and begins speaking to her quite loudly about "what are you doing - you never hold your hand out to strange dog." It wasn't so much what he was saying, but how he was saying it. Dog-owner even felt compelled to say, "She did ask"- he looked uncomfortable with how DH was talking. (at least to me, but my view at this point might be skewed.) But, I pretty much let this one go.

A few minutes later, we were talking to my son's art teacher, who had a table she was packing up. DH had his hands clasped behind his back; DS (almost 5) exuberantly ran up to him and pulled on one of his hands. DH: "What are you doing???? (loudly) DS: Trying to hold your hand, Daddy. Then DH went on (again, I thought loudly) about how DS should NEVER do that to him again, it hurt, etc. etc. DH looked really POed - how dare anyone hurt me reaction!! This time I'm pretty sure it wasn't my imagination, art teacher looked quite uncomfortable. After stepping aside, I quietly asked DH to consider how we was speaking and reminded him that DS just wanted to hold his hand.

This made the day even worse. I am the "bad wife" for interfering when DH is trying to "train and discipline" his children. I told DH it is hard when I am on "protect" mode 24/7. And while I know he is their father, my impulse was to say something when it sounds like someone is berating one of my children - especially in front of someone else - that is just humiliating. I know DH doesn't realize at all how he sounds. I really think he would be shocked if I could replay yesterday incidents. At the same time, I am likely ultra-sensitive to these dynamics at this point.

Probably, if I could do it over, I would have waited to talk to DH - that is more effective. But, sheesh. How do you handle these kinds of things? (they are too common in our house)
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Old 06-13-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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Hi, I didn't want to read and not respond. I think your feelings are very valid and I would have been upset too. Can you talk to DH about it now, since the moments of frustration have passed? Approach it in the most calm manner you can muster because it sounds like he will get defensive (my husband gets defensive very easily so I have had to work on how I approach things!). I hope you can find a happy common ground in your parenting approaches!
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Old 06-13-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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I may be off-base but it struck me that your husband's sensory inputs seem a little off.

The first example with the dog could very well have been me, for example. I don't hear or see well. From my bias, it read like your husband didn't know what was going on and missed all those cues. I realize you were upset about the intensity of his reaction but the way I see it, the intensity might have been a little more appropriate if your DD had just gone running up to a strange greyhound with no communication at all. That IS worthy of an intense reaction. So I just read it like your husband just missed everything and saw DD running toward a potentially dangerous dog.

The second example, I was thinking the touch just surprised the hell out of him and he overreacted, and in confusion or defensiveness or something clung to the overreaction so it looked like it wasn't something he did wrong. The touch could have surprised him just because he wasn't expecting it at all (due to missing other sensory input - not having a clue DS was back there) or because touch feels really strong to him, a sensitivity or sensory integration issue. As a low vision/hearing impaired person I know I've jumped sky-high before at unexpected touches when I thought I was alone in a room or something. I know what you described is a little different though, but I just kind of thought of that.

His reactions are not totally cool but could be the reactions of someone who doesn't know any more than you do that he's missing information. And it's easy to be angry about it. Ask me how I know. When I stub my toe (all the time) I get really really mad, I feel near tears because I feel so STUPID. Also it took me years to figure out I was going blind, and I just didn't have any idea what was going on. It's not like I was suddenly seeing black patches or something, I was just getting less input visually. And I did not even think about vision being a problem for a while, I assumed it was an attention problem. I would run into open cabinet doors and cut my face on the corner, and I could feel a lot of things: anger at myself that I wasn't "paying attention," anger at whoever left the damn door open, etc. But not really thinking "hmm, my vision must be bad."

I hope I didn't go on too much on something way off base, but the beauty of a forum is to get everyone's perspectives from their own lives.

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Old 06-13-2010, 11:57 AM
 
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How did your DH respond when you told him she did ask the dog owner if she could touch the dog? I know it is not the cure all for everything but have you considered counseling? Maybe it could help. It's hard when you have different parenting styles but finding common ground is possible. I'm sure you and DH will find happy mediums.
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:01 PM
 
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I wish I could answer your question as to how to approach your DH regarding discipline issues, but I don't know the answer.

What I see is a woman who is bending over backwards to make sure she is not judging her DH too harshly, and is trying hard to figure out how to communicate with her DH while at the same time protecting her children, and a woman who is working much harder at figuring out how to make the relationship run smoother than the H is.

What you have written makes me think you should trust your judgement. I don't think you are being too sensitive... if anything, perhaps you are seeing things more clearly now than you were before.

If you choose to continue in this relationship, your children will probably figure out as they get older that Daddy's reactions aren't always nice, and learn to avoid him, or at least modify their behavior around him. You will be the one whom they trust and confide in, and his relationship with them will be more strained, most likely. One could then hope that he will look at his relationship with his children and decide to change, but, also most likely, he will somehow blame you for his relationship with his children. He doesn't sound like he is capable of being empathic or sensitive in his ability to read others.
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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I have no answers for you, but had to write back - I am dealing with similar issues. Dh seems to be constantly angry with the kids, and I am so tired of it. I do step in, which I know everyone says not to do, but he isnt willing to discuss it in private, and Ill be damned if Im going to sit back and watch while my kids have to deal with unjust reactions over and over. Blah. Its no fun and feels like a lose-lose, doesnt it?
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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the dog incident is understandable, imho. I love dogs, I worked with dogs, and DP and I are talking about adopting a rottie. At the same time, if I knew my three year-old was super excited about strange dogs, and I missed the exchange about asking the owner to pet it, I'd be on pins and needles and might have reacted strongly as well. I nannied a girl who had plastic surgery because a dog ripped her face. This is not a simple concern, and I can see a parent talking sternly if they didn't realize the child was given permission to pet a dog.

On the second incident, it does not sound like the most proud parenting moment. But... my parents have done things like that, and they are still are very loving and caring parents. I admire them dearly, and know that their whole life is wrapped up in our happiness.

Dunno... I think that there are better ways to handle the situation in both instances, but neither one is dooming the parent as a "bad" parent in my eyes. Unless, that's the extent of your husband's interaction with kids, that is. Is that all they get from him? Loud reprimands? Impatience?

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Old 06-13-2010, 01:19 PM
 
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Sorry, both seem like pretty normal reactions to me.

I've reacted that way when my kids grab my hand and pull at times too, because it hurts!, when it hurts then its hard to be calm. I yelled once because DD#1 hurt my arm so much that it brused (she didn't mean too, and I reacted first thought second, I was in pain..) its possible he just over reacted because it hurt. Something to talk to him about in a calm manner at a different time. He was probably embaressed and you correcting him in front of the teacher made it worse.

With the dog it sounds like her didn't know the origional exchange and reacted the way a good parent would, but stopping it and by explaining to her not to go to strange dogs (not a bad thing)

as for being loud.. well I am a loud person. I may not be yelling, but sometimes it sounds like I am I've just always been like that. I do have hearing damage in my right ear though so that might be why.

Nothing you wrote screams to me "bad father" I wouldn't have said anything in either situation at that time. Its not the time or place for it, counciling might be a great idea too. Then you have a mediator to help figure out the middle ground for you.

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Old 06-13-2010, 01:49 PM
 
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yeah i would say this is a stress reaction.

and you approaching it when your marriage is in trouble is bad news.

if this is how he is reacting all the time it is action time. if this is once in a while flare up, let it go.

get a third party to help. a trusted friend who can voice his concern thru observation.

you should not say a THING. he is not ready to hear it from you.

hey i know. i have an ex like that. right now i notice he is particularly mean to me on the phone.

first i think its the times too. too much stress and worry around. i have my dd to keep me in check so i know when i am doing the same thing. the moment dd calls me mean mommy i know i have to think back and check and see if i am acting too frustrated.

is his job secure? money issues? at least with his children he is in a little bit of control - more so than any other aspect of his life.

for your own good, i would try and look at your dh and think oh poor man he has soo much stress he is wigging out. seeing everything wrong (doesnt mean it is wrong - but just having an understanding) is going to make your relationship work.

things were BAAAAD between ex and me. right before we went our ways. the only way i figured out how to improve - which came much much later - was to see life his way, and have compassion for him. didnt mean i gave in. meant i became much more stict our boundaries, but i didnt feel quite that anger. i noticed because i wasnt responding angrily in either body language or words our relationship improved.

parenting is hard under stress. but anything coming out of your mouth will be even worse. i imagine he feels at least with parenting he is king in one area. if you keep pointing out his faults, he will loose that little esteem he has in himself.

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Old 06-13-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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sounds to me as if both you and h are overreacting a bit here. I see your point. however, try to look at it from his perspective too. He saw his daughter go up to a strange dog and try to pet it-every dog is different and some are very skittish,esp with children.Even with permission from the owner, I would be wary of letting my child pet a dog that doesn't know her. Greyhounds are usually rescue dogs, and while they are not known to be aggressive, abused dogs can be unpredictible. Maybe he was a bit harsh, but hard to say, not having been there...

As far as the hand incident goes, I find that my dh is less willing to put up with grabbing/pinching than I am. Just yesterday, we were all still in bed when dd pinched dh's nipple. He yelled, she cried, I nursed-after giving him The Look . He then apologized for scaring her. The point being that men tend to react first, empathize later. Some will apologize, some won't. Methinks perhaps your strained relationship with your husband may be coloring some perceptions of his child rearing, just my two cents. Hope it helps..

Have you considered counseling? I hate to think of you giving up on your marriage over a few minor childrearing disagreements, unless there is something more serious than you have posted here. That would create much more damage to your family dynamic..Good luck, hope you can work it out..

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Old 06-13-2010, 06:38 PM
 
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I have reacted in those ways when I don't realize my dd asked to do something that is not safe to do without getting permission and when my dd pulls on me in a way that just HURTS. It doesn't sound like he did anything really horrible. He asked the kids what they were doing a bit loudly, but the first time he was probably freaking out imagining a dog biting off his little girls hand and the second time he was startled by pain. There are gentler and nicer ways to do things but not everyone remembers that in the heat of the moment, especially when they aren't the primary caregiver. If you are done hearing him interact with the kids that way then maybe a divorce and living away from him so he has to truly build his own relationship with them, and you get to build your own without the stress of him, is a good way to go.
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Old 06-13-2010, 07:44 PM
 
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the dog incident is understandable, imho. I love dogs, I worked with dogs, and DP and I are talking about adopting a rottie. At the same time, if I knew my three year-old was super excited about strange dogs, and I missed the exchange about asking the owner to pet it, I'd be on pins and needles and might have reacted strongly as well. I nannied a girl who had plastic surgery because a dog ripped her face. This is not a simple concern, and I can see a parent talking sternly if they didn't realize the child was given permission to pet a dog.

On the second incident, it does not sound like the most proud parenting moment. But... my parents have done things like that, and they are still are very loving and caring parents. I admire them dearly, and know that their whole life is wrapped up in our happiness.

Dunno... I think that there are better ways to handle the situation in both instances, but neither one is dooming the parent as a "bad" parent in my eyes. Unless, that's the extent of your husband's interaction with kids, that is. Is that all they get from him? Loud reprimands? Impatience?

I agree. WIth the first incident it sounds like DH went into what would be the male version of "mama bear" & protecting his child.

The 2nd incident, dh's hands were clapsed behind his back & a child pulled a hand. That HURTS! It doesn't just hurt the hand but it can pull on the elbow & shoulder too.

Would it had made a difference to you if dh said the exact same things but in a quieter voice? I see nothing wrong with your dh's reactions. We all react to things in different ways & for some people(myself included) a raised voice is one way of expressing their feelings.
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Old 06-14-2010, 02:59 PM
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As someone with anxiety, that would be exactly how I would have responded to that situation. I try my hardest not to, but sometimes it just happens. And a marriage in trouble would make me much more high strung than normal.

For me, I see something going wrong, and I start worrying about all the worst case scenarios. Before I know it, everything is spinning out of control and the whole world is going to fall apart. It's not a rational assessment by any means, but that's why the reaction is the way it is. I also overreact to pain and startle very easily, which would explain the second incident.

I'm not saying this is your DH's problem, just offering another solution. You will probably get a lot farther with him by saying "Hey, you seem really stressed lately. What can I do to help?" than "Stop yelling at our children."

Good luck.
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Old 06-14-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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I'm another in the camp that the reactions don't seem overly harsh, if your DH was unaware about the dog incident I completely understand. A 3 year old and an unknown dog, and an unaware dad-uh recipe for a freak out. So the person said it was ok, if DH didn't know that was a normal reaction.

Your son grabbing his hand and he freaks because it hurt, uh pretty normal.

I think that you may have a skewed vision of what is going on, if you are already on the rocks, anything is going to exacerbate that.

I just went through a really rough couple of weeks with my DD who is very high spirited and was having struggles with her discipline, we had to go in family emergency mode and have a family meeting. I'll admit I was yelling all. the. time. If you are at each others throats yeah he may be being reactionary. I also think that he probably sees you as attacking him right now.

Honestly when I clicked on this post I expected it to be worse. Both of those things don't seems totally out of line.

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Old 06-14-2010, 04:39 PM
 
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Well I just wanted to chime in to say I do think your husband overreacted in both situations and acted rather inappropriately, especially in the dog situation since you were right there and he should have assumed you had it under control rather than jump to the worst possible conclusion. That said, he may have some underlying reasons why he acts this way. The anxiety InMediasRes described sounds quite plausible from what I know of others with the same issue. But whatever it is, I think it needs addressing. It's not okay if he is acting this way all the time. Occasionally, sure, everyone is human. Multiple times a day, not so much. But if he isn't will to concede there is any issue, then I'm not sure there is much you can do other than make peace with it or move on.

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Old 06-14-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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... acted rather inappropriately, especially in the dog situation since you were right there and he should have assumed you had it under control rather than jump to the worst possible conclusion.
Why should he just assume his wife has everything handled? That sounds like a lousy dad to me. "Oh, I thought you had it handled." So he's just along for the ride?

How is this decided, anyway? Moms have total responsibility for the kids, and if she is within say 10 feet then Dad can just relax and let her sort everything out? Or can this go either way - of course what if Mom was thinking "hey, Dad's right there, he can handle this."

Of course we all agree it was sorted but clearly her husband missed that. I don't agree that it's better for him to just hand over the reins to his wife and absolve himself of all parenting responsibility.

What if it WASN'T sorted out? Would it have been good enough, after a mauling of their daughter's face (I base this on an experience my high school best friend had - when he was 2 an unleashed dog mauled him, he still has scars) to just say, "well, you were there, I thought you had it under control"? I know everyone will just say "well she DID have it under control" but the salient point is that he didn't KNOW that.

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Old 06-14-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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Why should he just assume his wife has everything handled?

That sounds like a lousy dad to me. "Oh, I thought you had it handled." So he's just along for the ride?

How is this decided, anyway? Moms have total responsibility for the kids, and if she is within say 10 feet then Dad can just relax and let her sort everything out? Or can this go either way - of course what if Mom was thinking "hey, Dad's right there, he can handle this."
Yeah, Mom has the ultimate responsibility and Dad's just along for the ride. Isn't that the way it works in your family?

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Old 06-14-2010, 05:40 PM
 
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Yeah, Mom has the ultimate responsibility and Dad's just along for the ride. Isn't that the way it works in your family?
Hmm. No.

It was that way for my family of origin. My mom had all the responsibility and my dad was just along for the ride. She complained about it all my life, though. I must have paid attention cause I married a guy who's a parent.

Personally I am just thinking that having a dad mistakenly try to prevent a dog mauling is not a bad price to pay for having a co-parent.

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Old 06-14-2010, 05:41 PM
 
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OP, I am so sorry you are having marriage problems.

In the instances you described, I don't think your dh was overly harsh. It may not be the way you would have handled it but it doesn't mean that he did anything wrong. As far as other people's reaction, I wouldn't use that as a gauge of your dh's behavior. In my experience, many people are uncomfortable when a child is corrected around them especially if they were part of the reason the child was being corrected (like in the dog incident).

I do not let my children pull on me or jump at me. I don't like it. I have a lot of trouble with personal space. I probably would have reacted the same way.

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Old 06-14-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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Hmm. No.

It was that way for my family of origin. My mom had all the responsibility and my dad was just along for the ride. She complained about it all my life, though. I must have paid attention cause I married a guy who's a parent.

Personally I am just thinking that having a dad mistakenly try to prevent a dog mauling is not a bad price to pay for having a co-parent.
Glad that works for you, but I like being in charge. All this new age "co-parent" stuff makes me twitchy.

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Old 06-14-2010, 06:05 PM
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the dog incident is understandable, imho. I love dogs, I worked with dogs, and DP and I are talking about adopting a rottie. At the same time, if I knew my three year-old was super excited about strange dogs, and I missed the exchange about asking the owner to pet it, I'd be on pins and needles and might have reacted strongly as well. I nannied a girl who had plastic surgery because a dog ripped her face. This is not a simple concern, and I can see a parent talking sternly if they didn't realize the child was given permission to pet a dog.

On the second incident, it does not sound like the most proud parenting moment.

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Old 06-14-2010, 07:29 PM
 
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Glad that works for you, but I like being in charge. All this new age "co-parent" stuff makes me twitchy.
What about it makes you twitchy??

Thats what it is to be married and have children. Both parents make the kids, so both are responsible for them.

My husband is my partner. I am not his boss and he is not mine. We BOTH need to be there for our children 100% or it only harms them and our marrage.

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Old 06-14-2010, 08:47 PM
 
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Glad that works for you, but I like being in charge. All this new age "co-parent" stuff makes me twitchy.
Is this for real?!

Uhhhhhh as a parent I have a partner who I co-created my children with. New age co-parenting, wow. What makes you think guys can't handle a situation, in all honesty my DH is way better in many aspects that I'm not. I don't need to be in charge, I like sharing the responsibility of our children.

If this is "new age" I say out with the old.

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Old 06-14-2010, 10:21 PM
 
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Is this for real?!
No, it's not for real . I stopped taking the conversation seriously when I got hit with "So mom has to be responsible for everything and dad can just sit back and chill, eh?" when I mentioned that I thought the dad should have trusted that the OP had the situation under control since she was right there with the kid. How that makes me some throw back who thinks dads shouldn't be involved I have no idea, but I figured I'd play the part.

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Old 06-15-2010, 12:37 AM
 
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I actually tend to defaulting to my husband has it covered when we are out together. He likes it that way.

I would absolutely react the same way to my kid approaching a dog. I have 117 stitches in my face from being attacked by a dog when I was 5. I am SUPER twitchy around dogs and I am trying to get my 'stuff' under control and not install phobias in my kid but it's hard. I would totally act that way though.

As for the second one? Yeah I might do the same thing on a less than stellar day. I don't think either of these incidences is a clear indication of cruddy parenting. He may not be the parent you wish he was, but that doesn't mean he's going to hurt his kid. It's ok to interact with people who are more stern. I've had a number of those in my life and I tend to really appreciate them long-term.

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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Old 06-15-2010, 11:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lindalu View Post

Probably, if I could do it over, I would have waited to talk to DH - that is more effective. But, sheesh. How do you handle these kinds of things? (they are too common in our house)
I think waiting is a good idea--it's always better to address things not in the heat of the moment when the reaction would just about always be defensive.

For the dog situation, you didn't mention whether or not your DH and you were on the same page with the "ask, then pet" approach to the dog fascination. If you didn't discuss it, it might be good to have some conversation like "yeah, xx is waaay into dogs these days.. i've been thinking that getting her to ask the owner before petting is one way to accomodate her interest--how do you think we should deal with her fascination/interest/obsession?" My sister was bitten in the face by a dog at 5, and I have a healthy respect for kid/dog interactions--and I think that dog owners often overstate their dogs' friendliness (yes, dog might be friendly but could still nip in excitement, etc., when small kids just don't have the resources to deal)--so I'm not sure that would be my approach, iykwim. There are legitimate differences.

As for the hand pulling thing--it's your husband's own body that he's setting boundaries around. I wouldn't interfere there, though I can see how it'd be hard not to if you felt like he was sounding harsh.

I can imagine it'd be hard for you to see his non-gentle interactions, but it's likely that the more you can take child-rearing/discipline/parenting out of your areas of conflict (and work out any other areas of conflict you can--can you see a therapist?), he may become less entrenched in what seem to be harsh ways, which he's likely being defensive around at the moment, to everyone's detriment.
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Old 06-16-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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Also it took me years to figure out I was going blind, and I just didn't have any idea what was going on. It's not like I was suddenly seeing black patches or something, I was just getting less input visually. And I did not even think about vision being a problem for a while, I assumed it was an attention problem. I would run into open cabinet doors and cut my face on the corner, and I could feel a lot of things: anger at myself that I wasn't "paying attention," anger at whoever left the damn door open, etc. But not really thinking "hmm, my vision must be bad."
s laohaire. This must be so difficult.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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Old 06-16-2010, 06:32 PM
 
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Lindalu, I'm totally siding with you on this one. You were there. You know wether your husband was accidentally overreacting or being domineering and "putting the children in their place". Sounds to me like it was the later. I have no tolerance for that because, well that was the attitude towards kids in my household, and I am pretty clear about expressing my anger/anxiety/frustration when my dh behaves that way toward our dd. Thankfully, it doesn't happen very often and he does seem understanding when I explain my side of the situation.
I say trust your instincts and try as best you can to explain your reasoning and your feelings to him. "It makes me feel __ when you ___." Or "I've read that it's not good to ___ because ___."
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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Glad that works for you, but I like being in charge. All this new age "co-parent" stuff makes me twitchy.
What is "new age" about expecting a dad to take care of his kids???

fly-by-nursing1.gifSAHM living on the beautiful Eastern Shore with my husband the car nut banghead.gif, and bebe Eleanor, born 9/16/09 luxlove.gif plus two kitties! cat.gif
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:16 PM
 
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No, it's not for real . I stopped taking the conversation seriously when I got hit with "So mom has to be responsible for everything and dad can just sit back and chill, eh?" when I mentioned that I thought the dad should have trusted that the OP had the situation under control since she was right there with the kid. How that makes me some throw back who thinks dads shouldn't be involved I have no idea, but I figured I'd play the part.
I got this from the get go, so I found your responses hilarious.
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