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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not really sure what my question is or what advice I'm looking for. Basically I feel that my dh is not a good father to our son. He's a great husband...the perfect husband actually...and he's a good dad to our new daughter but there's this big black void when it comes to being a good parent to ds. I can't understand it. All I know is that it's been like this since day 1 with ds but it's taken me this long to be able to say it out loud and really admit it. He doesn't abuse him physically or even emotionally...he basically just ignores him. He always is telling him to go away, he's too busy doing something else, etc, etc. He wouldn't hold ds when he was a baby. I always had to force it on him and he always seemed really put out even if it was just so I could shower. I tested him once when ds was about 2-3 mos old. I didn't ask him to hold ds and waited to see how long he would go. After 3 days I gave up. We live in a small house, we don't have other friends we go out with and he works easy shifts. So he was home a lot in those 3 days and it never occurred to him to pick up his new baby.

Things haven't really changed. Ds is 3 yrs old now and dh doesn't play with him. He doesn't give him any attention at all except negative. There has been a lot of extra stress in the house this week because of some training dh has to do which has him waking up extra early, working extra long hours, not home at lunch like usual, and having hours of homework once he is home. I understand dh is stressed but I don't think it's unreasonable to think he should give his child some attention, even if it's just 20 mins a day. I have been telling him he needs to give ds some playtime for 3 days now. FINALLY tonight he starts to play with him. For some reason ds is really into guns right now so he was play shooting us. All day I've been doing overly dramatic deaths and ds just thinks it's a riot and I think it's kinda fun too
What does dh do? Dh does one quick death where he flops onto the bed and then doesn't get back up. When ds tries to engage him, dh just explains that's he's been killed so he can't get back up because you can't kill someone twice. Ds is 3 yrs old. he doesn't even really know what a gun is let alone what the heck killing actually means. It was just a game he wanted to play. That's just one example but it's really typical. Ds will ask to play, dh will sit down and start to play, and like most 3 yr olds ds will get distracted and walk away and dh will immediately get up and go do something else. When ds wants to play again dh just says, "you left me, now I'm busy."


I think what's almost worse than anything is that he's awesome with our dd. He is holding her all the time. He plays with her. He's totally bonded with her which he did none of with ds. He has openly said to me that dd is his favorite.

This is just a huge behavior problem waiting to happen if you ask me. This week ds has responded to the stress by peeing all over the house when he's been potty trained for over a year. I noticed earlier today while I was changing dd's diaper that he was playing with my shoes and one of the shoes said to him, "get away from me! go play with somewhere else!" which is exactly what dh says.

I don't think dh gets it at all. I don't think he realizes the damage he is causing ds.

I'm to the point where sometimes I think I might have to leave him because of this. I love dh. Like I said he's the perfect husband (he even does ALL the housework!), he waits on me hand and foot, he's an awesome dad to dd but he drops the ball when it comes to ds. I feel like I have to protect my ds from feeling like his dad doesn't like him. I feel like ds would be better off if I moved out and went to live near my parents where I know my dad would be more than happy to do all the dad things with him: rough and tumble playing, teaching sports, camping, riding bikes, etc. I always assumed before that if you are even considering separating from your spouse it's because you're not happy with them and you don't like them anymore. I never thought it would be because my child isn't happy.

My mom was here for a month living with us when dd was born. I knew then she'd see my dh for how he really is. Sure enough it all came pouring out of her the other day when I called asking for advice. She said she couldn't believe how dh treats ds. She said she can't stop thinking about it and she felt so sorry for ds the whole time she was here and always tried to make up for it (which explains why my 60 yr old mother was taking ds to the park in 114 degree temps, something my dh won't do even on a nice day).

Where do I go from here? Oh and no, dh won't read anything. I've been shoving Playful Parenting in his face for 2 years now and he has yet to even crack it open.
 

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Wow, mama, that's really rough. I know the other, far more knowledgeable mamas here will post soon, but I just wanted to say that I hear where you're coming from, and I think you and your DH (or maybe just your DH, which is far easier said than done, I know) need to get to some therapy. I just read your birth story, and I'm certain there's a huge connection there to his bond with your DD vs. his lack of bond with your DS. That's heartbreaking, and I hope, for everyone's sake, that you can solve the problem
 

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have you asked him why he's like this, rather than asking him to change?

i think that this is probably something personal and deeper than just "not liking" your DS. i would ask him why. and, i would point out the effect that it's having on your son, and ask him how he feels about that.
 

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FWIW, my DH was TERRIFIED to have a boy. He gave a big whoop of joy when we found out our first was a girl!

When we found out our second was a boy, he was in a funk for a week. Then he slowly started to look forward to it. Now that DS is a year old and starting to really do "boy things" (trains, balls, etc) DH is back into his anxiety mode!

Maybe your DH just is afraid of seeing himself in your son? Maybe he's afraid to get too close because it's too painful for him? I know it seems crazy but that's how my DH feels....

If I were you, I'd backpedal on the whole frontal assault you're doing and just try to get DH to open up about his own childhood....what was it like for him? What was it like to be a boy? What were the things he struggled with? What did he like to do? What was his relationship with his dad like? What did he WISH it were like?

Maybe if you can get him thinking about his own childhood, it will open up a way for him to think about how to bond with DS.

I also think that if you back off on the "you need to do something with DS" thing and maybe just leave them alone together they might figure out their own thing. Maybe not rough and tumble play - but maybe it's just going to the hardware store or something.

There's a great chapter in Liberated Parent, Liberated Child about the whole mom-dad-child dynamic and how to handle it....basically the advice is that it is THEIR relationship to work out and you shouldn't insert yourself in the middle.

hth spark some ideas for you!
peace,
robyn
 

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You should have a plan in place to boot him out. Give him an ultimatum, give him a couple months to try, the remove him. He's causing serious psychological damage to your little boy and you need to protect him. Great husband be damned. I feel so bad for you, but your DS needs your protection.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthea™ View Post
You should have a plan in place to boot him out. Give him an ultimatum, give him a couple months to try, the remove him. He's causing serious psychological damage to your little boy and you need to protect him. Great husband be damned. I feel so bad for you, but your DS needs your protection.
I agree 100%
: I don't know what your husband's issues are, but your son shouldn't have to suffer because of them. I hope that doesn't sound harsh, because I don't mean it to be...at all

I'm sorry you're in this situation
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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Originally Posted by melissel View Post
Wow, mama, that's really rough. I know the other, far more knowledgeable mamas here will post soon, but I just wanted to say that I hear where you're coming from, and I think you and your DH (or maybe just your DH, which is far easier said than done, I know) need to get to some therapy. I just read your birth story, and I'm certain there's a huge connection there to his bond with your DD vs. his lack of bond with your DS. That's heartbreaking, and I hope, for everyone's sake, that you can solve the problem

I think dh DOES need therapy. In fact he did too so he went to therapy a few years ago. Problem is he's in the military and their version of therapy is sub par to say the least but it's all we can afford. They saw him once and gave him some anti-anxiety meds. They made him sooooo sleepy, like a zombie, so I told him there was no way he could take those (esp when I was at work and he was supposed to be watching ds!). So he went back and they gave him some anti-depressants. They have actually helped a ton & I'm terrified of what will happen when he gets out of the military in May and we can't afford the meds. HOWEVER all they do is give him the prescription and then tell him to come back in 3 mos to get a refill! They don't give a damn about the underlying issues...as long as he's capable of doing his job they don't care
I told him he needs to ask them about some sort of therapy for help with dealing with ds. He did. They sent him and ds to this family center place that didn't know what to do with them because they usually only see parents who beat their kids. They gave him a milestone chart and sent him on his way.

So my dh HAS reached out for help but is not receiving it. I know it takes A LOT for a man to take initiative and seek out counseling and it really ticks me off that he keeps getting turned away.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthea™ View Post
You should have a plan in place to boot him out. Give him an ultimatum, give him a couple months to try, the remove him. He's causing serious psychological damage to your little boy and you need to protect him. Great husband be damned. I feel so bad for you, but your DS needs your protection.

Quote:

Originally Posted by christy005 View Post
I agree 100%
: I don't know what your husband's issues are, but your son shouldn't have to suffer because of them. I hope that doesn't sound harsh, because I don't mean it to be...at all

I'm sorry you're in this situation

This is exactly how I've been feeling. I don't know how to give him an ultimatum though when it's obvious to me we need outside help and yet have no way to get it (or at least quality help anyways). I certainly do not want to teach my kids that you walk away when you hit a big problem with your spouse. My parents have been married for over 30 years and I watched them go through some bad years (not yelling or fighting in front of us but it was obvious there were issues) and now they are closer than ever. My dad was pretty volatile just like my dh is...you never knew when he was going to get angry about something. However I never felt like he didn't want us around and he always took time out for us kids. I'm not saying the situation was ideal but no family is "ideal" anyways and we felt loved and wanted and important.

Also, I just want to see him trying. I realize it will take a loooong time to fix the broken bond between them.
 

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does your dh acknowledge that he has a problem with interacting and bonding with DS? If he went to therapy/family counselling it does sound like he at least acknowledges there is a problem. This is a HUGE first step - if he didn't acknowledge there is a problem, your options are much more limited.

It sounds like your dh has some deep issues related to how he was treated as a child - something that is coming btw him and his son. Something that doesn't happen with his daughter. Something, I suspect, related to how he views masculinity. Can you do any digging into his own childhood to figure out how his own father treated him?

In terms of not affording therapy/not getting good therapy through the military: paying for therapy yourself is a hell of a lot cheaper than a divorce AND cheaper than the subsequent therapy your son will need to undo the damage being done to him right now.

Getting your husband the help he needs to be the father to his son that your child deserves is not optional. Even if you leave your husband, he will ALWAYS he your son's father. And moving your son away from him just hides the damage, it doesn't remove it.
 

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I don't see how leaving him fixes the problem either, in this case. He still has visitation rights. So one assumes he will still be seeing the children and still favoring your dd over your ds.

I agree with siobhang that you and he have to continue searching for options for help. He is willing; that is half the battle. I know it is hard and frustrating.
Some churches have counselling. I remember my mom used to do "prayer therapy" that brought up past hurts and then prayed to heal them. Do you have a spiritual community that can help you? Maybe your mom can help?

I also want to give you some hope that daddy-kid relationships can heal, once your dh figures out what the problem is. My dh was practically absent during our dd's years 1-5, due to various issues. They had NO relationship. She didn't even want him to drive her anywhere. He finally got healthier, and their relationship is blossoming now.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shelsi View Post
So my dh HAS reached out for help but is not receiving it. I know it takes A LOT for a man to take initiative and seek out counseling and it really ticks me off that he keeps getting turned away..
This is great! I mean, not about the military turning him away, but that he has sought help. He obviously has recognized the problem.

What's his relationship like w/his dad? Was he abusive? Was it very strained? Was your dh abused by someone else?

I really don't see how leaving him will help anything. Especially since he gets along well w/dd. Do you think he'll see ds anymore often if you two aren't together? Do you think it would maybe force him to deal w/the problem?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shelsi View Post
Also, I just want to see him trying. I realize it will take a loooong time to fix the broken bond between them.

You know, my dad was not at all involved with us when we were babies. I doubt he ever changed one diaper. He very rarely held us. He likes little kids, but he worked all the time and when we were toddlers and preschoolers he probably spent about 15 minutes a day with us, and that was just at the dinner table. Yet my dad and I are very, very close now. So I don't think it's too late for your ds and dh!

Maybe your dh and ds could take a parent/child class together. Do you have a Gymboree or YMCA or anything like that?
 

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The damage to your little boy is cumulative and incalculable. Can't afford therapy???? Can't afford not to have it. THIS IS WORTH GOING to the credit cards, begging for help from family, getting a loan, selling jewery, cancelling the cable/paper/magazine subscriptions, WHATEVER it takes!!!!!

I would tell my husband that he is showing extreme and hurtful favoritism between his children and that you will ask him to leave unless he is willing to go with you to counseling. And then work to find the best counselor regardless of the cost. As you have found, there are a lot of really crappy counselors out there. You may have to change a few times to find the right fit.

I would not stay in a marriage with a man mistreating a child, even if I was being treated like a queen. My mother did this and my brother was the goat in our family. I won't tell you the whole story, but suffice it to say my brilliant brother ended up a (now blessedly recovered) heroin addict who works blue collar work when he has IQ in the genius range. But, when you hear that you aren't worth s*** your whole life its hard to use your gifts.
 

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Therapy. There has to be a way. Cheaper than divorce, and one way or another someone's going to need it.

Seriously though if your marriage is strong, you're in a better place to work this out in it (if that's OK with you) than outside it. DS's situation won't necessarily be improved by splitting up the household. Might be, might not be, but if you don't want to do it it's worth trying other options first.
 

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omg just sending so many hugs your way!!!
I was the eldest and unfavoured child.... and I am so happy you are trying to change this, it's something that I don't think I will ever recover from. I mean yeah I'm a functioning adult, but you know.... You're doing the right thing to try to fix this, and your instincts about how important it is are 100% correct.
 

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I haven't read the whole thread--I'm sure by now lots of mamas have told you this suggests very strongly that your DH had some very difficult issues in his own childhood. If he was alienated from your DS even when he was a baby, that suggests that your DH's troubles started extremely early as well.

First it's important to downplay everything, on the emotional level. Even though this situation isn't healthy for your DS, children are extremely resilient. Your DH may still adjust and heal while your DS is still fairly young, and then the harm to your DS will be greatly lessened. If you are also getting tense and hurt and angry and so on, it will increase the stress your DS picks up on. Also, your DH ignoring your DS is probably a coping mechanism for the buried emotions he has related to his own past. Adding to the general stress level of the family will only exascerbate this situation. Of course you are absolutely right to be bothered and concerned. But any time you can, take the opportunity to focus on the positive and to, yourself, step in the direction of an improved family atmosphere.

Okay I've now read the thread--can you guys get couple's counseling? Perhaps if you're in the sessions, you can make sure the counselor understands what's going on. I can imagine your DH showing up at a family center and saying "My wife says that I don't play with my son enough" and they have no clue what is really going on. Also, if you are considering splitting up, it's a couple's issue as well. Perhaps after some progress in couple's counseling you guys will find some individual counseling for him so he can do more private processing if needed. I agree with you that him reaching out for help like this means a lot.

 

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Tricare covers family therapy. It has to be with a certified marriage and family therapist. My husband and I have seen several. It can't be called "marriage counseling," but it sounds like you need family counseling. PM me if you want some help finding someone in Tucson.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by hippymomma69 View Post
There's a great chapter in Liberated Parent, Liberated Child about the whole mom-dad-child dynamic and how to handle it....basically the advice is that it is THEIR relationship to work out and you shouldn't insert yourself in the middle.
Robyn, I think your post was awesome, & I agree that there are serious childhood issues or something going on with her dh -- but I have to say I disagree with this - I don't think a small child should be left alone to navigate a relationship with someone who is acting like her dh is.
 

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One other thing change your perspective instead of telling him what he is doing wrong tell him what he is doing right! Look for the good. This will make him feel more positive in his relationship with his child instead of negative. Honestly with my first marriage I think this is one thing I did wrong. My ex didn't have a good example of a father. I knew it. I just didn't realize how bad until after I had my son. That not holding cuddling enough was his dad and his dad's grandmother. I to this day kick myself and wonder if I would have handled it different if he would have learn different skills. We still would have divorced but I wounder if the bound would have been different. I know I got into a bad habit of pointing out what he was doing wrong and I think he gave up.

This like "wow I noticed you were really tired and you still cuddled ds this afternoon" does count and reasures him into better parenting. Gives him the I can do this. I did this with my second husband and he was/is a great father. I don't think it would completely fixed my ex because he is repeating a cycle of removed parenting.

I would also find things that your dh and ds can do together see if that helps. It is their relationship so you need to back off and let them develop it, be positive. Give your dh options do you want to play with dc now or after diner while I leave and go do something I need to do.

People are more responcive and positive if they have options. Your dh doesn't know what or how to negotate those options.
 

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ok, i'll be honest. i'm totally ticked at how our military is treated in so many ways, and i see and hear your frustration about the councelling situation.

but i also agree with those posters who are telling you to financially "find a way" to get help. talk to family, ask for a councellor that offers a sliding scale, go to a church or related religious leader (sometimes, if they can't handle a problem, they have funds that can help).

it seems to me that your husband WANTS to change this behavior and knows how to do it (via councelling) and wants to do it, but is being turned away by military care providers. so, time to go outside of the system and do whatever it takes.

good luck to you!
 

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Some universities offer low-cost therapy clinics administered by their advanced psych students. My sister, a Ph.D candidate in psych, works at such a clinic. ALL sessions are supervised (taped/ watched/ etc.) by her years-experienced boss, so if she makes a mistake it gets immediately corrected next session.

If it would be an issue for your DH's security clearance, there's always the option of having him "sit in" on "your" therapy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you for all your responses. I haven't been able to get online a whole lot because dh needs the computer to do his homework.

First off let me answer a little about his childhood. I can say that he comes from a good family. His parents have been married over 35 years and they obviously have a strong marriage. His mom was a "hippy" in her day and did extended breast feeding, baby wearing, etc. She was screaming "I do not consent!" when they were trying to force her into a c-section for my SIL (she was footling breech and yes she had her vaginally). Her style of parenting is very similar to mine. Dh is a navy brat. I've asked him what he remembers about him and his father and he says he wasn't there. He was deployed all the time which I think is fairly true from the stories I've heard from MIL. However FIL got out when dh was about 8-10 yrs old. Dh says he doesn't remember a whole lot about being little. He remembers playing catch a few times with his dad and tinkering around on cars.

I started thinking about it and realized that out of ds's 4 grandparents FIL is the only one who never really gets down on the floor and plays with him. All the other grandparents are creating little games, tickling, wrestling, etc. FIL obviously adores ds but is just not the type to get down and play. I'm guessing he was the same with dh.

Also I remember MIL telling me a story about when dh was about 6 yrs old. I guess they were seeing FIL off on another deployment. She said when they got to the car dh got in the back seat and refused to come up front. He wouldn't talk to her. Finally he said, "You don't understand! You don't love him like I do!" She said dh was just so mad about the whole thing. So anyways if there are issues they are related to stuff like that, not abuse issues.

I should mention that dh deployed from when ds was 4 mos old until he was 8 mos old. And then again last year just after he turned 2 yrs old and he's leaving again at the end of December. None of that helps of course.

So dh and I talked last night. We had a really nice day yesterday as a family so things were nice and calm. Dh understands there is a problem. I don't think he saw how he was treating them different and I don't think he understood how it may be affecting ds. I said to him that he's making ds feel unimportant and if it continues ds is going to become a teenager and go out and find something that does make him feel important which could be bad news. I also worry he'll go out looking for a father figure and be a target to any old creepy man. Those statements seemed to really get dh's attention.

So I think changes are in the works. The problems have been identified and I've told him that no matter what I just can not let ds live in this environment forever, that something HAS to change. I'm going to PM the pp who said we can actually get some counseling. Dh is willing to go so no problem there at least. Of course dh is leaving in 2.5 mos so I'm not sure how much help we'll even get but maybe even just one or two sessions would be good.

I also want to say that when I wrote my OP I was really upset about the whole situation. I want to clarify that dh DOES sometimes play with ds. They tickle each other (ds LOVES being tickled) and goof around sometimes. I let ds play some car video games with dh because it's something dh likes to do. But dh does not seek out play time with ds and during times of stress or times of a bad behavior phase with ds, dh just tries to avoid him.
 
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