My DH has gone out of town for the first time without us and the kids said something today that really broke my heart. They said they miss Daddy but that our house is a lot happier when he isn't here. :( My husband has a temper and he seems to be permanently irritated with everyone. At the same time he is a good dad but he literally has zero ability to discipline without getting angry. I take a more casual approach. If they are fighting I won't immediately jump in because I know they will work it out on their own whereas if the kids start arguing my husband will immediately tell them to go to their rooms which of course escalates and ends up creating a worse situation. He also yells way too much. I am honestly thinking of suggesting to him that he just stay out of disciplining completely. That I will handle any correction that needs to happen and he can just bite his tongue. Is that totally weird? Will that be weird for the kids if they notice that I am the only one doing any behaviour corrections? I am just at my wits end with this. I don't want to divorce him because I think in the long run it would be worse for everyone but at the same time I don't want my kids to feel stressed in their own home. I grew up like that and it is not a fun way to grow up.
Is your DH open to therapy or medical help about his irritability? Even if only you do the discipline, it sounds like he's pretty unpleasant to be around regardless. And could he resist stepping in if whatever they're doing "wrong" annoys him and your discipline doesn't make it stop fast enough?
That's the way it works here. DH takes on the role of the playful parent and I handle all discipline. Sometimes it really sucks but it helps keep the peace around here.
I want to second the idea of therapy. That kind of behavior can be very oppressive to live with, especially for children. But I think it could be changed. Does your dh know that it's unpleasant for everyone and that it should change?
so... he's a good dad but he's permanently irritated with everyone, yells to much, can't control his temper/emotions, the kids are happier without him there and he either doesn't see the problem or is unwilling to change? You're rationalizing mama. A lot of irritability could be depression, general unhappiness/dissatisfaction, unreasonable expectations, obsessive personality disorder, anger management or something else... but all of it suggests counselling or at least a doctors visit.
That said, I think expecting that he will never discipline the kids is not very realistic. It might work for you to do most of the disciplining, but it sounds like you need to get on the same page, agree on some basic strategies and come up with some solutions that will work for both of you.
I think a lot of men feel like they are expected to be the household disciplinarian even when they aren't effective at it. With my late husband, I took over the primary discipline role, because my late husband was a lot like your husband. He was irritated often and tended to react with anger rather than to see discipline as an ongoing process of love and training.
Counseling would be great if you can get him to do it. If not, he may be relieved to leave the discipline to you.
I handle most of the discipline because dh is not here most of the time. My dh tends to be sterner and more overly-dramatic over discipline. I think a good part of it is because the environment he grew up in discipline was angry and violent. So he isn't hitting but has a shorter fuse and tends to overreact to things I would let go. He lets things go that I would not. I don't agree with everything he does but I'm not going to take him totally out of the picture.
Do you discuss with your dh how irritable he seems all the time?
Have you discussed why you don't step in and why your casual approach seems to work better?
Have you had a conversation with him on changing his approach or offered him advice or a book to read on the subject?
I don't think just telling him to butt out of discipline is a great idea for your family life. I would try talking to him and try to work as a team more.
I think you and your dh should get counseling and really work out together a plan about how to discipline the kids so that you can both agree to it even if you are the main person disciplining the kids.
Is he willing to change? There are tons of books out there about how to parent without yelling. If he's willing to read them or employ some new techniques, I think a united front would be better for everyone involved.
I don't know how many times I have thought to myself about telling dh to just back off on the discipline and let me do it myself. He gets so angry/irritated so fast for such little things, then looks back and sees how he overreacted. I basically could have written your post. Would he be offended/upset if you ask him to back off? My dh would be very hurt, which is the only reason I haven't said anything. Is he overwhelmed when it comes to discipline, and just needs the right tools to use, or would he feel relief if you did it yourself? I think every family works differently. My dad is eternally upset that my mom took over the discipline, but my FIL says he wanted nothing to do with it and wanted to be the "good dad." ::shrug::
I assume you're with the kids a lot more than he is. Be patient with him. He probably has a lot less experience playing 'bad cop' than you do, and he -- like anyone who's new to a practice or doesn't have as many opportunities to feel his way around it -- needs guidance, forgiveness, and understanding. My DH was raised in a very 'traditional', you-wait-til-your-father-comes-home, punitive home and he didn't know any other way going into parenting. I had a very AP-ish upbringing, so punishment and escalation and conflict is something that feels very alien to me. He needed a lot of time and coaching, but he's great at it now. He's more centered and calm than I am sometimes now!
I think isolating him away from your kids would be a mistake. Part of the bond with a parent is not only doing the fun things and the happy things, but knowing they're there to pull you back when you're about to go over the edge. Kids in 2 parent homes need both parents to participate in discipline. Discipline is not effective if it's dealt with way after the fact when 'bad cop' parent is available, and it's not even relevant if you're dealing with it when you had nothing to do with the situation which warranted it. That would also put you at the unfair position of always being bad cop, and that could breed resentment from you to your DH, and your kids to you.
He needs to get with the program. Counsel him, forgive him, show him, be an example for him. Don't let him escalate into the abusive situations you described, as it not only degrades your kids, but him too. But he needs to learn a new way, not be written off entirely.