16 answers

Husband Feels He Does Everything Wrong

I need advice how to better communicate with my husband. Although my husband is a very intelligent man he lacks common sense when it comes to our child. I try to communicate what I consider obvious before a situation happens but my husband chooses to ignore me. Example...I encourage my husband to share food with our child (otherwise our 12 month old will ask and ask to try the food he is eating and my husband will just ignore him). Anyways, I made a beef stew the other night and told my husband 'if you share this do not give him the cubes of beef...you can give him the potatoes since they are soft enough for him to chew'. Minutes later our son is choking and I rush over (since my husband was clueless) and I pulled out 1 and a half cubes of beef from his mouth. I really try to calmly communicate to my husband but he just doesn't get it. Another example...my husband passes the kitchen and says 'what are you doing buddy?' and then continues walking away. Our son was quiet so I decide to get up and check on him...he was playing with a plastic bag. I asked my husband, you saw him playing with a plastic bag and you didn't take it away??? My husband responded, 'it wasn't over his head'. I can't help by think...it only takes a moment to stick a bag over his head. Example...I tell my husband, give baby X food at X time (I even leave the food and spoon together ready to eat)...hours later baby is crying and husband is clueless & getting frustrated with our child. I ask, did you feed the baby? The answer is no. I feel like my husband lacks baby common sense and really wish my husband would listen to my advice/listen to me. How can I communicate to my husband without making him feel like he does 'everything wrong'? Thanks in advance!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your responses and wonderful advice or simply sharing your own experience, it was all appreciated. The first step I took was to express thanks for each positive thing my husband did do. This alone really seemed to help a lot. I have also taken other bits of advice and put those to use also. I do agree that counseling would be helpful but I do not know how to make that happen (approach with husband and insurance company, etc). The more I see how my husband's parents interact with our child (they are not local) the more I see where my husband learned many of his neglectful behavior. This is yet another reason why counseling would be a plus but again I just do not know how to approach it. Perhaps I will have to post a question about approach to counseling...ha ha ha. Anyways, thank you again!

More Answers

I think it would be good for you both to attend an infant first aid and CPR class. I say both because if your husband gets the impression that you know everything and he is totally clueless, then he will distance himself from the baby and just let you do it all. He needs to learn how to care for the baby, and the best way is from someone else. He'll be more receptive if he feels like you are both learning it together. The things that they teach and the examples that they give should open your husband's eyes to the dangers that he needs to be aware of. As far as general baby care goes, it is more of a learn as you go kinda thing. The more you leave him alone to figure it out, the better he will learn it. Your son will not starve to death if Daddy forgets to feed him. Just be sure that your husband knows he can always call you to come back if he is feeling too overwhelmed. Any advice you have for him will be better received if it is coming from someone else. Example, "the doctor says we need to change his diaper at least every 3-4 hours even if it isn't messy" or "I read an article that says that baby needs to be dressed one layer warmer than you would be before going outside."
When my first was born, I adopted the philosophy "if daddy is doing it, then it is being done right". The nurse spent 10 minutes explaining to him how to give a bath and change a diaper in the hospital, then he still did it all wrong. Baby was cold, she peed all over the changing table, and he didn't get everything washed off. My mom tried correcting him, and I made it very clear that he does not need correcting unless it is a safety issue. I gave suggestions like "I learned that if you get the new diaper on quickly, and worry about disposing of the old one after the change is done, there is less surprises". He also felt comfortable enough to try to teach me a few things. I never told him I already knew that, and it really boosted his self-esteem to think he was just as competent as me. Now, we have two kids age 2 and 7 and he is totally able and comfortable caring for them alone for days. They may not get their hair brushed right, and they may have grilled cheese in front of the TV every night, but that is Daddy's way, and that is just fine.

4 moms found this helpful

I wonder if your husband doesn't like being #2 now?? -- What you are describing is certainly giving you a message. To fail to feed a child when the food and schedule are pointed out is beyond -- - as is walking away from the 'plastic bag- but it's not over his head''- he didn't stay around to see if/when the bag DID go over the head.

He's sending you a message - ''' I want to be helpless and not useful where this child is concerned'''

My only positive suggestion is to ask him'''''' what would make you happy about me/the baby -???""""" And if he says''' don't be so critical''' - ask him ''' if we had a baby sitter that did these things ( not feeding- giving meat chunks -- walking away from plastic bag play ) - would YOU praise them????

Sorry, A. - this is a toughie-

4 moms found this helpful

Hopefully I don't hurt your feelings too badly ....I don't think that your husband is just lacking baby common sense.

It is possible he is not interested and does not care for being a dad. It could be that he is angry with you because you give so much attention to the baby. Whatever it is, this lack of "common sense" can be dangerous. Like you said, it takes only a second.

I would consider getting into therapy as a couple. I know that sounds like a drastic reaction, but as a former therapist, a common reaction for jealous spouses is crappy kid-caregiving. It helps to ensure the jealous one gets some attention.. (eg If I do a crummy job you will have to keep your eyes on me, thus guaranteeing I'm getting your attention".

Good luck - post again and let us know how things are. L.

3 moms found this helpful

My husband was like that. He let my son play with electric cords, biting on them. He called to me from another room, "Is he supposed to chew on that cord?" Solution. Do not leave son or daughter home alone with husband until they were 4 or 5. It was really hard on me.

I finally figured out that he was being purposefully "dense" so that he didn't have to take the responsibility. So I (with great pain and deep despair, and for other reasons too) divorced him when the kids were 6 and 8 and he became a wonderful dad because there was no one else there to take care of the kids. Wonder of wonders.

3 moms found this helpful

Sounds like he is just not respecting you. Proper care for a child does not come naturally to most men, and they need a little help and instruction. I think he is ignoring you, and that needs to be dealt with....there may be something deeper going on? Might want to try talking to him, and probing....asking questions or maybe counseling, or if not, then you need to make sure you are not leaving your child in his care alone until he gets a clue! It is worth it for your son!

2 moms found this helpful

It could be one of 2 things. you may really need to get him into a parenting class or he may be acting like he does not know how to do things so he will not be asked. My brother clued me into that little idea. You need to figure out what one it is then talk to him

2 moms found this helpful

Angela - I don't have to much advice on this one, but I did want to just comment on a thing or two.
I do not share my food with my children. For the very reason that you stated. Kids are quick. If they know that they can have food off of your plate they will grab when you are not paying attention and they could choke. Cut up your child's food and put it on his plate and that's what he eats. I am with your husband on that one.
My husband is a very different father than I had hoped for. One other woman said something about grilled cheese in front of the TV and my kids and husband are like that as well. While I would never do that I know that their dad loves them he just parents differently.
I do remember watching CSI or something like that and this woman was at a "chuck e cheese" with her daughter. She bent down to pick up a ball and when she stood back up her daughter was gone. It was very scary as a parent to see that and my husband looked up at me and said, "wow, that fast?" I just looked at him and said "yup". That was enough for him to actually start paying attention and keeping a closer eye.
The other posters have it right, if you are always there then there is no reason for your husband to be the alpha parent, you will fix it. Some of the things that he is doing is dangerous (plstic bags) but some of it is stuff he will just have to learn (baby hungry). You may just have to leave him home some days and hold your breath, it's so very hard.
Someone else mentioned counseling, I would try that route. It may help to do the "I feel upset when I see my son choking. I need you to be more careful with the things that are going into his mouth."
Good luck, L.

2 moms found this helpful

Do you use a tone of any kind when you talk to him or are condecending in any way, that is a big put off to anyone but especially so to men. Most men don't find the first year of a kids life very interesting because they don't really "do" anything and most women see the kids doing a ton of things. My husband was much better for our second kid together and was a stay at home dad after the second one turned 1 and was great at it, better then I would have done I think. They aren't as over reactive as we are, if a kid falls they don't run right to them but they are watching to make sure they are fine. I bet you husband knows more then he lets on but you have been at home the whole time and how much has he been alone with your son, really alone? Your son is 1 now and will be more interesting for your husband because he can play rougher and can catch a ball and run and he is learning to jump and play on playgrounds which is more fun for men. My son is a total boy and my daughter can hold her own as well and I owe that mostly to their dad. Tell him good job because they need praise and tell him thank you as well. Next time you leave him to watch his son, "ask him" if there is anything you need to go over with him as a refresher or if he will be fine. You might want to leave a note beside he food saying what time to feed him so he doesn't have to rely on memory alone and he won't have to call and ask. Your son will survive this or he will drive your husband nuts with crying until he figures out what it is. Good luck and just remember that men and women are different and what our kids get from each of us is equally important. (But it can be frustrating)

2 moms found this helpful

Maybe take a child care class together. Sometimes it is easier to take advice and instruction from someone other than a husband/wife. Just approach it as something you heard about and thought would be fun, and ask him if he will take it with you. I wouldn't approach it like he needs it and should take it.
I also agree with the other poster as far as finding things he does right. It feels good to be right. So, if he is being recognized for doing something right, and it feels good, maybe he would go the extra mile the next time to make sure he gets it right.

2 moms found this helpful

He's clearly ignoring you when you've just told him specifically what to do. Also, he can turn his back on safety situations if he knows you're right there and will probably intervene. This sounds like a general marital problem. The first year of a baby's life is statistically the hardest time on any relationship. There is a book by John Gottman called "And Baby Makes Three" which deals with partner relationships after you have a baby. Gottman's books are excellent in general.

He may be reacting to too much criticism of his handling of the baby by withdrawing (it's easy for a first time mom to get paranoid over every detail of the baby's care) -- and he may have lost any confidence in his ability to take care of the baby. Another factor may be that he is not happy with the loss of attention now that baby is getting all the attention. And finally, he could have neanderthal-like ideas of the father's role in childrearing (modern feminism aside, it is actually his childhood and parents who taught him this). I've also dealt with this with my husband, plus we have been in couples counseling. Through many conversations (and there is no way to improve your relationship without having these explicit and direct -- but lovingly phrased -- conversations) we have come to understand each others' feelings and ways we are experiencing parenthood.

Specifically, he tells me he needs more physical affection as well as actually noticing him and kissing him when he comes home from work. I need him to take more childcare responsibility (which is admittedly hard for the man the first 6 months esp. if she is nursing) -- so we started by alotting him nightly baths and some diaper changing when he came home from work. General duty alottment works better because you are not micromanaging and he gets to use his own noodles on how to do it (don't interfere if possible). Your only complaint can be that he didn't do it -- you can't complain about how he did it as long as he got the job done and the child is still alive and intact. Upon completing his responsibility would be a good time to share a word of appreciation (you don't need to throw a ticker tape parade if you don't feel like it) because he actually did something to pitch in and work on the relationship.

The more he gets involved with childcare, the more amazed you both will be with the ever expanding joy and connection he feels with the child. This is his gain as much as it is the child's. If he expects to stay distant until the child can talk he will have lost his connection and the child's trust -- and worse, he may never even realize how much he's lost until the child is grown (Cat's cradle song in the background). Don't be alarmed though -- my hubby was soooooo not involved the first year of my son's life and later we got it together. Now my main concern is occasional jealousy when I think they have a closer connection than I do.

Those are ideas off the top of my head. Please don't be afraid to try couples counseling. You sound like a perfectly normal and otherwise happy couple. But people don't often realize that counseling can actually do great things and make life easier even if you're perfectly normal and not in dire straits -- it is like individualized parenting education specific to you and therefore much more rapid and effective.

Try to get a recommendation for a counselor if you do try counseling (hospitals will usually be able to direct you to a reputable counselor in your neighborhood), and if you get even a halfway decent counselor probably your only regret will be that you didn't try it sooner. Don't expect overnight miracles, but do try to notice the small but important changes that are happening in your relationship. That's my best advice to anyone with children. Thanks for posting this question and good luck!

P.S. It is never too late to try to reconnect with a child, it just takes longer and more work the longer you let it go.

Also, most relationship problems boil down to fixing communication styles (or "de-clawing") and breaking out of the persistent defend and attack mode, so that you can actually begin to communicate and cooperate as partners. This can be more subtle and complicated than you would expect, hence Gottman's books and/or counseling.

Finally, you are the mother of an infant. Your body hasn't recovered from birth (takes a full year!) and you are both going through trial by fire. Get outside help any way you can and find a way to give both of yourselves as many breaks as you can possibly get.

Take a deep breath -- parents have survived the first year and lived to tell about it. Your wisdom will increase a hundred fold and you will gain a new perspective as your child grows. Congratulations, new mommy! :-)

2 moms found this helpful

Ignorance is bliss. As long as he doesn't 'know' he isn't responsible and you do it all. Your husband is playing you. Give him simple baby duties to do while you're home. Your little guy won't break if Dad is changing his diaper. If he asks for help, verbal cues only, don't step in and do it for him. Lunch time, let Dad feed him, again, verbal cues. When it comes to dressing your baby, put clothes together in outfits, so he has matching pieces, if coordination is an issue. Keep the plastic bags out of the baby's reach. Babyproof all your drawers and cupboards, outlets as well. Pick your battles carefully, wisely when discussing shortcomings with your husband. He's learning. If he's never been around a younger siblings or cousins he hasn't a clue. Patience, Mom, patience... persistent patience.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi A.,

I wanted to tell you about a rule that my husband and I share that may be worth bringing into your home. The rule is: "100% (percent)". 99% right is 100% wrong....if a situation seems like 99% safe and secure then that 1% deviation could spell disaster. We want to be 100% sure about every situation because neither of us wants to live with that 1% scenario. So...if I see that my husband left our baby to play with a plastic bag I would say "Honey this is not 100%...he could put it over his head and suffocate and I am sure you wouldnt want to live with that on your shoulders. Let's not let him play with these till its 100% safe to let him do so when he is older." And my husband will call me out on things too that I overlooked by just saying "this isn't 100%." It makes us both accountable and it lets us know that we have eachother's backs. I am not perfect and I need my partner to keep an awareness where I might have a blindspot and vice versa. And our agreement around this is that the other parent cannot get mad or defensive if we get called out on not being 100% in a situation. This has really helped us not become accusatory or blaming the other for "bad parenting"...in other words we have reduced any fighting or resentment by incorporating this rule into our parenting.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with Judy, would he let a babysitter do those things? And he cares MORE about the child than a babysitter would! Just gently point that out.

I think most of the posters are giving men more credit than they deserve, they're not trying to misbehave, they just aren't able to multitask as well and don't worry as much as we do in general!

My husband's been a stay at home dad for six months now, and while yes he does some things his way (and I don't agree with them!), the kids are happy and healthy, and ultimately benefit from learning the self-control that they get from hearing both sides of the parenting spectrum. If they were only with me full time they'd probably be so worried about every little thing they'd become paranoid. And with him, they'd be so carefree that they might be careless. Balance is the key, so long as no one gets hurt! =)

1 mom found this helpful

I can totally get your frustration. My guess is he hasn't had much experience with babies in the past and this is the first time he has any major responsibility.

I recommend start looking for every time he does something right. The more you find things to appreciate, the more there is to appreciate.

Sometimes men start to feel that no matter what they do it isn't going to be good enough so quit doing anything. If you don't figure this out soon, you could end up in major marital conflict as your son ages.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow. I could have written your story after the birth of our first child. I was terrified of leaving our son with my husband because he just had NO clue what to do. (And even now, he hasn't learned all that much . . . and we have three kids now!) I was planning to be a stay at home mom, too. But I had graduated from law school and wanted to take the bar exam before I forgot everything I learned. He was TERRIBLE at watching the baby while I was trying to study. He would literally leave our infant in the living room with my nine year old niece to go to the basement to play video games. I could've throttled him.

The actual bar exam is two and one half days. I was still nursing and there was NO way I was going to leave them overnight even if I hadn't been. So they came with me. I wrote out a detailed instruction list that started with the time the baby woke up and everything we did and everything to feed him from that point on. (I was worried he'd be offended at the detail in my list, but I really was nervous about leaving them alone all day.) Turned out my husband LOVED the list. He loved the detailed instructions. And he had the lowest stress experience with his son since he'd been born.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

Try reading the book 5 love languages... it's an Awesome book and you can find out what your husband's love language.. how he responds to you better and then once you figure that out, you will be able to communicate with him better.. it really helped us: http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/ Another idea is to write things down, if you are leaving for example with the feedings, etc..

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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