I agree on helping your dh learn about age-appropriate behavior. There's a series of books by Ames and Ilg called "Your One Year Old", "Your Two Year Old" and so on (up to age 12 I think) that has some good developmental information. (It's old and has some outdated and sexist ideas, but the developmental info is good).
My dh doesn't read, so I do the reading and we have conversations about what I've read. (Not the "you're doing it wrong, here's how I want you to parent" kind of conversations, but the "here's what I read and it made so much sense to me, because.." kind of conversations.)
If I understand your posts, your dh has a history of being abused, and that's the only parenting role-model he has? That makes becoming a gentle parent really challenging. He needs a lot of support, especially from you, and counseling is an excellen
t idea. It sounds like he wants to make some changes, to be more gentle with the kids, and that's fantastic.
But also, I know my dh needs to know I think he's a competent parent, he needs to know I respect and support him, and he needs to not feel
as though I'm trying to manage his relationship with the kids for him-he needs to develop his relationship with them himself. Does that mean that I won't object if he says he thinks spanking is okay? No. But it does mean that I don't criticize his interactions his interactions with the kids often (though I will discuss it with him if something he does really bothers me), it means that I sympathize when he complains that the kids never listen or whatever ("yeah, me too. It's really frustrating.") just as often as I point out our unrealistic expectations (dh: "she doesn't listen." me: "well, she's 5."). It means we're learning together
how to parent, rather than me telling him how to do it. It means that I ask him his opinions about how to handle some things too, even if I'm the one who has done all the reading and taken the child development classes.
Originally Posted by ebethmom
When dh told me all this, he said "I need help. I don't know what to do." I tried some scenarios of how he could have averted the drama, but he rejected them all.
You know, maybe he needed to hear you say something else. Sometimes when parents struggle they need to hear not what they could have done differently, but that someone understands how hard parenting is and that someone believes in their ability to become the kind of parent they want to be. Sometimes parents need to hear "what changes do you want to make and how can I help?" rather than a list of what they should have or could have done instead. Sometimes parents need to hear that all parents make mistakes sometimes and it isn't the end of the world, and that nothing is wrong with them-it's just that parenting is hard, especially if your own parents were not good role models. (It's not unlike when our kids do something inappropriate when they're upset, and they reject our problem solving ideas because they just want their feelings to be heard and to be reassured that they aren't bad people.)
I feel for you both.