DH problem with anger or me -- overreacting? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 98 Old 06-15-2013, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My dh and I have been having problems seeing eye to eye since my first child was born 7 + years ago. We have been seeing a marriage counselor who thinks that he needs to address the roots of his anger and get rid of it. He is mostly in denial. He has about a 10 minute frustration-with-kids threshold then uses threats, raising his voice, physically restraining or moving the children (7 and 4), controlling through being angry or manipulating by withdrawing his love/affection. This is his daily MO.

 

Last night my son and daughter were trying to wrestle with him before bed. My daughter encouraging my son to climb on Dad's head.  I heard my DH losing his patience after about 2 minutes as I brushed my teeth. Next I know my daughter is yelling and crying because DH (180 lbs) sat on her (40 lbs), covered her nose and mouth with his hand to make her stop calling her brother. When she panicked (she said, started getting scared), he took his hand off and put a pillow on her face, she said she turned to get a breath of air and he mashed the pillow over the opening. 

 

I walked in then, she was up and ran to me telling me what happened. I tried to keep things light and say, "You can see she didn't like that and that scared her, right Dad?" He said, "I can see that SHE wants YOU to think that."

 

We went into the bathroom, DH started to read a book to my son. While my DD was telling me what happened, DH started reading the book in a really loud voice to drown her out (?). We went back into the room, and I said, I think Emma would like it if you said you were sorry for scaring her. He just ignored me. Then, my DD tried to get his affection and listen to the book he was reading and he kept pushing her away. I asked why he was so angry and he said he wasn't.

 

This physical stuff is usually mild although counter to my parenting philosophy---picking up a child and moving them or physically restraining them when they aren't doing what you want them to do.

 

He once threw and broke a toy shopping cart. But, he usually holds it together and just fumes. We know he's mad but he doesn't do anything but withdraw, have a sour face, and be cold. I am growing impervious, because I don't seek his approval anymore, but I don't know how to help my kids.

 

The best I have been able to come up with is to stay married so that I can be a mediator as much as I can. Shared custody would necessitate that they be alone for greater periods of time than they are now. This is obviously not an ideal solution and I feel like I am showing my kids that this is acceptable behavior...

 

I am a completely peaceful, Ghandi-loving, vegan-leaning, Buddhism-exploring person. Am I being too sensitive as is suggested by DH?

 

P.S. No one else on Earth would believe this. He's funny, charming, friendly and playful with other people and kids. And, half the time with my kids.

 

Please send me your thoughts.

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#2 of 98 Old 06-15-2013, 09:47 AM
 
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Does his anger stem mostly from parenting frustrations? It sounds like he may be parenting in a way he isn't comfortable with and resenting you for interfering but trying to hold a lot of anger in and it is leaking out a lot. Maybe taking parenting classes together and only interfering to tell the children to listen to their father instead if swooping in would help with the resentment. If he plays too roughly then of course swoop in but don't draw it out just end things. An apology is nice but it sounds like your DD recovered fast and didn't need one and your pushing for one created a resistance towards interacting with either of you.

If the resentment is over parenting disputes it really might be better for the kids if you two seperate, especially if that is the way you are leaning. Living with less anger may be good for all of you and short of abuse I don't think he will damage them.
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#3 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Most of his anger seems to be about me and the disparity in our choices about parenting, and me not making as much money as I did pre-kids. Before I was the chief breadwinner and now I make half of what he does. This is financially stressful.

 

It also sounds like resentment about the kids changing our lives from what it was, and him not getting as much attention. I was all about pleasing him.

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#4 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 08:00 AM
 
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Outside perspective: your "dear husband" deprived your daughter of air by sitting on her and mashing a pillow over her face. This is extremely, extremely serious.

LEAVE. You are married to a dangerous man.

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#5 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 10:24 AM
 
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I think it sounds like your DH doesnt feel very empowered or comfortable to discipline the kids in the way he sees fit or to do what he thinks needs to be done to end play that is going in a direction he doesnt like. (That is, why does he allow himself to get more and more upset and then snap rather than say NO to the children when he wants them to stop?) you heard him getting stressed out...i think you should have immediately went in there and said "kids, dad's had enough of that game, why dont you go do..." And i think speaking for your daughter to get an apology out of dad didnt help the situation. When i read that it almost sounded like you were "scolding" him in front of his own daughter. Like something you'd do to another child" Timmy, Susie would like an apology"...NOT the child's father. Thats just my take on it. Not excusing what he did to her, sounds like he got frustrated with the play and snapped. I'd ask him what he thinks would help when he starts getting frustrated, does he need your help in handling the children at that time? Does he need to take a break and get some space? how are his interactions with the kids when he isnt stressed out?

 

Does he realize how fed up you are with his anger issues, that you are considering divorce if it werent for then having to leave the kids with him alone? Does he realize you are at that level? and if so, he is still unwilling to try to fix it?

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#6 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 10:53 AM
 
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What he did sounds really serious. I have to admit, if it were me I would have done more than ask him to apologize. I would probably have called the police and left that night. To be really honest I may have tried to physically harm him myself! Not saying that part is right but I am just being really honest. The moment someone hurts my child I would have turned into a monster.

I am not one to tell someone to leave their husband, especially on an Internet forum where the real picture cannot really be portrayed from one post. But... your husband, from this post, sounds VERY immature and totally out of control with his anger. How does a grown man threaten to suffocate their kid and then refuse to show affection? The only thing he is teaching your daughter when he acts this way is "love hurts". This is a really hard lesson to unlearn.

It doesn't sound to me like you are being "too sensitive". He's just deflecting responsibility. Sometimes I do stupid things out of frustration when it comes to my son. I hate myself for it. But NEVER to the extent of what you describe. If my husband saw me do that he would freak out.

Has he ever been violent towards you? Has he ever hit the kids?
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#7 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 11:50 AM
 
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Two cents: the level of immaturity, need for your attention, refusal to take responsibility, resentment toward the kids, inability to cope with life - all of this sounds like not only definite anger issues, but potential narcissism.  And yes, it does sound extremely dangerous (not just if he succeeds in hurting the children, but the emotional damage he is doing to them - and that you are complicit in.  Deep down, you know the situation is bad, that's why you "try to keep it light" or put a normalizing spin on it.  That actually does harm, by making your kids think you feel this is reasonably acceptable, or that you don't see how truly scary and out of control he can be.  I also do think your apology encouraging/situation explaining statements remind me of negotiating a conflict between two children - but I don't think that's a fault on your part.  I think he is acting like a child, not a parent.)

 

eta - the rage moments are bad, but even the cold withdrawal is deeply affecting your kids.


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#8 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 12:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by eko_mom View Post

Most of his anger seems to be about me and the disparity in our choices about parenting, and me not making as much money as I did pre-kids. Before I was the chief breadwinner and now I make half of what he does. This is financially stressful.

It also sounds like resentment about the kids changing our lives from what it was, and him not getting as much attention. I was all about pleasing him.

I think bringing this up in counseling is a good idea but if that is really the root of the problem leaving will probably help both of you.and your kids. My mother and I got to a similar point with resenting each other and sadly it resulted in not wanting to be around DD when it reached a certain level and leaving relieved all of those feelings. This isn't the same as a marriage but sometimes leaving the problem does help. It sounds like you both are working towards compromise in therapy and pointing out what you see as an cause then working together there may be very helpful.

I can't tell if he was rough playing and got too rough or was being violent from your description. Since she could breathe enough to get upset and got up and ran to you I am guessing too rough. Either way I think this also needs to be addressed in the next therapy session.
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#9 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 12:27 PM
 
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Wait, so your husband put a pillow over your daughter's FACE!?!?! And you want to know if you're over reacting?

 

I'm FREAKING OUT!!!!!!!

 

That is not even an okay thing to do as a pretend joke.

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#10 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 12:29 PM
 
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Couldn't read and not comment. My husband is the same way, I believe he is narcissistic. It all climaxed when in the span of a week he got physically aggressive with our oldest 3 times. We are staying married, but the kids and I are moving 3.5 hours away so I can go back to school. It's half a plan to better my life and the kids lives and half to get us apart. He can support us while I go to school then I can leave and offer him no child support in return for full custody. I won't need support because I'll be a CPA with a masters in accounting and able to work from home. All this to say, you may just need to be creative. *hugs*

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#11 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 01:00 PM
 
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Wait, so your husband put a pillow over your daughter's FACE!?!?! And you want to know if you're over reacting?

 

I'm FREAKING OUT!!!!!!!

 

That is not even an okay thing to do as a pretend joke.

yeahthat.gif  Sometimes, when you're in it, it's hard to see just how insane this is - but it's bad.  It reminds me of babies dying due to suffocation or shaken baby syndrome when a parent snaps.  Really, really, deeply not ok.

 

One more thing, you may be overestimating your ability to mitigate damage by mediating.  If he resents the kids, he may not even seek or be able to maintain shared custody.  I agree with thinking strategically, but don't write off leaving.  You have put up some emotional barriers against him as an adult, but you ask what you can do for your kids - they are incapable of coping well with this - they need actual physical distance to begin to process and heal.

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#12 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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What he did to your daughter is really terrible.  Even if it's just playing around.  If I found out that one of my kids did that to a friend when they were playing I would freak out.  And a grown person doing that to a kid....scared.gif.

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#13 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 01:37 PM
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. Am I being too sensitive as is suggested by DH?

 

 

 

God, no!!!  You didn't get angry enough at him, in my opinion.

 

If you stay in this marriage, you can't just be a "mediator."  You have to be a full-on mama bear.  In fact, sometimes you might have to call the police.  

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#14 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 01:46 PM
 
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Also with my husband, I physically step in the second I feel it's needed. This morning we were trying to get everyone dressed and my oldest wouldn't put on pants. I saw my husband roughly holding him by the arm and pulling him down the hallway so I yelled at him to stop and stepped between them. I held the kids hand and we walked to the living room to put on his pants (my oldest is 4). When we got there he said "Thanks mom for saving me". </3 

I don't allow them to be alone at any point, I get a babysitter if I have a dr appointment, etc. 

DH doesn't realize I'm doing it to keep him from the kids, he just thinks I'm helpful.

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#15 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 02:48 PM
 
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I agree with the previous posters who are horrified at the level of violence and risk to the child in the incident you describe. 

 

I do not agree with your therapist that your DH has to get to the roots of his anger. He has to stop acting out violently, period. Getting to the roots of your anger is for people who yell and stamp their feet, or are sour or grumpy. A person who reacts to his frustration with his child by smothering her with a pillow does not have the luxury of waiting until he gets to the roots of his feelings to change his behavior. He has to stop NOW. 

 

I understand that you feel like you can't split up and leave them alone with him for visitation. You need to talk about this to the couples counselor and to a domestic violence counselor and get information and help brainstorming. 


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#16 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 03:51 PM
 
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Just wanted to add a story from my past: When I was a child, my Dad came to tuck me in and told me this rhyme - Roses are red, violets are black, you'd look much better with s knifed in your back. WTF, right? For over a year I slept in my back so it wouldn't be exposed to possible knives. This is one of my primary memories of my Dad, who also has issues with anger. I say this just to illustrate how profoundly these incidents can stick in a kid's head.
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#17 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 05:29 PM
 
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What data there is on domestic violence tells us that choking violence is a strong predictor of future homicide. That's the case with intimate partner violence. Don't see why it would be terribly different in a parent/child case.

I don't care that it's an Internet forum, you should get your kids out of there. Yourself too, but if you can't do it for yourself do it for your kids. Make a plan. Please.

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#18 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 05:39 PM
 
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Get your kids the hell out of there.  He is dangerous.  He reminds me of my dad, and when I was fourteen my dad attempted to shoot my mom.  Don't let it get anywhere near that point.


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#19 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 06:53 PM
 
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What data there is on domestic violence tells us that choking violence is a strong predictor of future homicide. That's the case with intimate partner violence. Don't see why it would be terribly different in a parent/child case.

I don't care that it's an Internet forum, you should get your kids out of there. Yourself too, but if you can't do it for yourself do it for your kids. Make a plan. Please.

 

^ This. (In bold).

 

No one can truly judge this situation the way you can. The realities and complexities of it. It's up to you to make a decision on the future of your family and kids.... it must be such a hard position to be. greensad.gif It sounds as though leaving is not an easy or straightforward (or desirable on some levels?) option? The comments that are just saying "leave already" - are not able to take into account your reality, financial, emotional....otherwise. Only you can answer the question of how seriously you should take his anger (and his potential for more scary, and/or harmful violence), and what it might mean for you and your kids' futures.

 

Much sympathy and an internet hug to you. Talking to a trusted person about the future, and a plan of what/how/when (if anything) - would be a really great idea if you can do it. Best, best wishes.

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#20 of 98 Old 06-16-2013, 09:03 PM
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This situation is still really bothering me.  He could so easily kill her without meaning to, by sitting on her/putting a pillow on her face.  I'd call 911 next time.  And if he's in jail, it will be easier to leave him.

 

You could still call Child-Protective Services on him, even after the fact.   What he did was child abuse.  

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#21 of 98 Old 06-17-2013, 01:38 PM
 
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My two cents, I am a firm believer that marriage is forever. However, in the situation u discribed, I would have called the police. That is serious and a half! If the police are called, there will be a police report therefore, if you ever end up in a custody battle, you can reference that. Using something like that in court would guarantee that he would never ever have unsupervised visitation.

You may need to get to a place where you can communicate that you are legitimately afraid for the safety of your children to him, and separate for awhile while he works through his own issues.
It's not an easy situation, and there is no easy solution. I hope you can figure out what is best for your family and work through this.
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#22 of 98 Old 06-17-2013, 11:48 PM
 
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Do not leave your children with him unattended.

 

You know that his behavior is inappropriate; that's why you posted here. There is no situation in which covering a child's mouth and nose so that they couldn't breathe would be okay. Someone who is doing that needs serious counseling and parenting education before they are around children again.

 

This article talks about reasons people don't report child abuse:

http://www.military.com/spouse/relationships/5-reasons-people-dont-report-child-abuse.html

 

The second one sounds like what you may be thinking: "You doubt yourself and think you are the one who is overreacting."

 

Given your descriptions of his behavior you need to have a safety plan in place for your family:

 

http://www.ndvh.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/Safety-Planning-2.pdf

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#23 of 98 Old 06-18-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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I felt the need to reply because I think your situation is quite serious. I was in a relationship similar to the one you describe, and was incredibly lucky to get out before either my daughter or I was hurt. I too went to marriage  counseling with my ex, but I had a really good counselor who said to me she only recommends separation in 2 cases. Abuse and Addiction. At the last appointment I went to she told me that I was in great danger and told me to get a protective order. My relationship had not reached the level of violence that your H exacted against your daughter.  I really think you should talk to a domestic violence advocate, and make a plan to get out. I also think this incident should be reported to the police. I know it is scary, and you feel like you will be judged, and the thought of leaving is daunting. I will tell you that situations like this are a cycle and they only escalate. Once a threshold has passed like moving from yelling to throwing things or throwing things to physical violence they don't go in reverse. There is also a really low rate of recovery for abusers after years of intense therapy. You know that this situation is not right please start making a plan to get out of the situation, and reach out for support. Here is the hotline for the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Contact an advocate at a safe house. Every advocate I have ever talked to has been incredible. They will help you navigate and find whatever resources you need. They are also wonderful at listening. Good luck to you.
 

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#24 of 98 Old 06-18-2013, 08:48 PM
 
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Your husband is the one with the problem. You are underreacting if anything. You definitely need to get your children out of this environment! They are in real danger. And assuming they aren't smothered by their father, they will grow up thinking this is normal, and reenact this pattern in their own relationships, and 30 years from now your daughter could be writing a post like this one on an Internet forum of the future and adding a sentence like "My dad used to do this kind of stuff and my mom would just try to cajole him out of it, so I guess it's normal, but ..." So please don't wait to make a plan and get out. The previous posters gave some good information. 

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#25 of 98 Old 06-19-2013, 01:28 AM
 
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Eko_mom,
I read your post to my husband. His reply- this guy needs to be reported.

It is strange that both of you don't seem to see this is a real problem. Will you accept it if another individual does it to your daughter? Should not the fact that a parent is the one doing it makes it even worse?

My husband and I have certain protocol for discipline. My husband is very strong with a very firm grip. There was an incident when he gripped my son firmly while talking to him angrily. I cut in and fished my son out of the situation while dh cooled off. The next day there were bruises on my son's arm. Dh and I agreed immediately that he would not even touch the kids when he is angry, and there has never been a repeat incident. I also spoke to my son about it and explained the agreement that dad and mum came up with to prevent it because it was not our intention to hurt him in any way. Ds said he appreciated that.
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#26 of 98 Old 06-19-2013, 06:09 AM
 
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I didnt read all the posts - i apologize if this is a repeat - BUT, when someone tells you "You are being too sensitive"  they really mean " i do not care enough about you to change my actions"  - i hope that makes sense.

He sounds like a selfish, immature jackass.  I quit my job when i had DS 3 yrs ago - my DH is now working 2 jobs so i can stay home with that DS - not to mention so 'we' can pay for college for my DD - who is a product of my first marriage.....

He never complains about the money we are missing out on - he knows that this a transient phase of a few years and the day will come when he will retire and i will work a job (or two)

Sorry to ramble about my own life  but your DH sounds like someone who is very hard to live with - have you ever considered help from a 12 step program like ACOA?  it sounds like this may be his issue....

http://www.adultchildren.org/

http://www.drjan.com/

And as for joint custody - absolutely NOT - start a diary right now - complete with dates and times and write down every damn incident like this - every time he yells at the kids etc....use this forum for a while if you want....sounds like DH like yours is likely to see you writing, find the diary, read it - and blow up.     Speak to a lawyer - sounds like you will NEED to hire a lawyer - remember , some will agree to a payment plan - and almost all will offer an hour of free counsel.  

Family court should respect your wishes for supervised visitation.  Dont let that be the 'one' reason holding you back from considering divorce.  Sounds like this guy needs some help growing up and you cant do that for him.

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#27 of 98 Old 06-19-2013, 08:02 AM
 
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I've been asked to edit this post because the moderator feels is to stated in too strong of language, but since it has been marked as helpful by 8 posters, I'm going to do my edits in purple.

 

(I wrote this post right after Father's Day, which is a day that always puts me in a pissy mood.)

 

I grew up with an abusive father and a door mat for a mother. My thought in reading the post is that the way these events played out won't keep happening.The kids started by PLAYING with dad, and they will quickly learn not to do that. They will learn to keep their eyes down and stay quiet, so they can stay safe.

 

I do not mean to imply that the OPer is a door mat. I think it is still very early in this family's situation, and that she has real choices to make. I feel that *my mother* is a door mat because she is still living with an emotional abusive man who treats her badly, and she is now in her late 60s. She never protected us, and she isn't protecting herself. 

 

The daughter is likely to be molested (even if dad doesn't, he is setting her up to be a compliant, easy target), and she will most likely date boys who abuse her, because she is being TAUGHT that is what it feels like when a man loves you. She may end up with a life time of emotional problems (I spent years in therapy and am officially "sane," my sister didn't care for therapy so she is in and out of residential treatment for bi-polar and psychosis.)

 

I am concerned about the long term damage done to children by living in situations where they are not safe. It effects emotional development on a very deep level, and plays out in ALL other relationships -- with peers and adults, with males and females, and eventually with their romantic/sexual relationships. I think it would be foolish to not be honest with one's self about what repeated incidents like the one you described will have on her. 

 

And the 4 year old little boy? We all know what sort of husband and father he will grow up to be.

 

I think this is too harsh of a statement -- we all have the power to chose what sort of person we want to be, and while some paths may be easier for us that others, as adults, we are each totally responsible for our own actions. As a parent, I try to make the path  I would prefer for my kids to be the easier path, but they are teens and I see their own choices and genetics having an impact. Raising children isn't like following a recipe where we can follow directions and get a certain result.

 

It's your choice. You can do what my mom did -- nothing. Or you can give your kids a safe place to grow up. Which, frankly, is a heck of a lot more important than homeschooling or organic food or cloth diapers or 99% of what gets talked about on mothering.

 

I think figuring out how to give your kids a safe space is really key, and it sounds like you are already thinking and working on that. I can see why you want to try to ensure that he doesn't have MORE unsupervised time with them after splitting than he does now, and I think that being smart in making a solid plan is a GREAT idea.

 

I wasn't safe as a child, but I grew up in the suburbs and took piano lessons and went to church and all that. As I got into my teens, I really wished that my mother had gotten my sister and I out, even if it meant we had to be really, really poor. Being poor would have been much better *for me* than growing up not being safe.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#28 of 98 Old 06-19-2013, 09:03 AM
 
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Linda on the Move...you absolutely nailed it


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#29 of 98 Old 06-19-2013, 10:50 AM
 
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OP, I'm responding without reading the other posts. I think I would go to your therapist with this privately and ask for some guidance. To me this sounds like something I would want to start recording in an official way. I do very much understand you being fearful of separation because of shared custody. If a situation like this is something that does not surprise you, I would be working privately and methodically towards sole custody.  

 

Perhaps if you work privately with that and have a lawyer and good records you can use that to scare your DH into getting very serious and proactive help with anger management. 

 

I realize you don't feel you're there yet but a woman's shelter may be able to give you some much needed support and perspective. 

 

Big hugs to you. I hope you get the help and support you need, mama. 


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#30 of 98 Old 06-19-2013, 12:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie8681 View Post

Outside perspective: your "dear husband" deprived your daughter of air by sitting on her and mashing a pillow over her face. This is extremely, extremely serious.

LEAVE. You are married to a dangerous man.

I would have to agree with this. No excuses. Perhaps if he apologized....no such luck....didnt see the harm in what he was doing...then puts the blame on his daughter, implying she was  lying and manipulating...wow, ...i wouldnt stay married to such a person.

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