July 07, 2009,
M.B. asks from Champlin, MN on July 01, 2009
Husband Not Spending Enough Time with Family - 2 Girls
So maybe my husband doesn't want to spend time with our kids because they are girls and doesn't know what to "do" with them. They are into Princesses, Barbies, dress-up, role playing games (Queen, Princess, mom, etc.). He has mentioned if we do things as a family on Saturday that he should have Sunday to do with it whatever he wants. He's ok with the girls going downstairs to the basement to hang out with him (usually the only place to find him after dinner and on the weekends anyway) but then I am not ok with it depending on what commercials are on during his races or soccer games. Sometimes the kids don't even know their dad is home cuz they forget he is downstairs on the computer! He rarely shows his face and when he does it's to eat dinner and help clean up the kitchen. He detests going to his parent's house for an extended period of time cuz he gets "bored" there, even though he brings his laptop with him and watches TV there too. I am running out of patience when it comes to this issue and know that if I bring it up AGAIN it will just be a broken record, so some advice would be appreciated...I have tried in the past to have more active games they can play together, but I am the one who suggests them or asks the kids to go and ask their dad about. He rarely (if ever?) asks them. I feel like he doesn't want to be around us/the girls only/his parents for extended periods of time and it's stressing me out. I know he is "tired" when he gets home from work and needs some down time. But when it turns into 2 hours after he eats and then helps me put the kids to bed (only tonight since I "complained" to him about it) and then back down to the computer or TV...it's ridiculous. Plus if he helps out by bringing our older daughter to soccer practice then he considers that "enough" family time.
So What Happened?™
Thank you so much for all the wonderful advice, both public and private. I discussed this issue yet again with my husband late last night and he is open to spending more time "up above" vs. the basement in his office at the computer when the kids are still awake. He is open to NOT bringing his laptop to his parent's house (he even suggested this, not me!) so that he could find other things to do (with his family, with our kids, etc.). He has been very stressed about the current job market and economy in general (who isn't?) and fears his job may be done by mid-next year or end of next year so if that happens, and he has 4 mouths to feed and a roof to keep, etc. you know the story. I told him I am ok with him decompressing after work to a point. He can't stay in there for hours on end and then come up and help tuck the kids in. It's not fair to me or the girls. I don't expect him to do any laundry or dishes or helping with dinner. He already grills for us on the weekends during summer and mostly cleans the basement he prefers rid of toys. I told him I don't want their relationship with their dad to suffer and look to other males in their life for more love and potentially unhealthy relationships to which he responded so that means you don't think I am doing a good job right now? And of course he is doing a good job, but just barely getting by in my eyes as far as interacting with the kids. The younger one asked yesterday was her dad home from work yet? And he had come home, changed, met us at the park for soccer cuz he wanted to bike there vs. stay and play at the park afterwards with the girls and then morphed into his downstairs office. She couldn't remember he was even home! I told her he was in the basement and she could go down and see him whenever she wanted and the older one says "oh I don't think he would like that" so obviously it's affecting their relationships! So he said he will "step it up" and see what activities he can do with them (the older is in her 3rd year of soccer and still nervous about getting her training wheels off her bike and the younger one just got a new 2-wheeler with training wheels). He even suggested buying a Wii so that he could tie in the video games de-stressor with the kids. Otherwise there is bringing one girl to swim while I bring the other girl to dance. He shows up or brings the older to the soccer games, and has suggested many times for bike rides or kicking the ball around. Basically they are outside averse (bugs, bees, etc.) except for time at the beach and an occasional playing outside in the sandbox. He doesn't have any close friends and will attend the occasional work happy hour. He doesn't go fishing, hunting, etc. and has told me many times that that's how other men decompress and find a balance, whereas he likes to just go and spend time alone on the computer or playing video games (yes, he is almost 40 but I know he isn't alone in that category!). So is it better for me/us to have him home (albeit in a different level of the house for hours on end sometimes even during the weekends) or would it be better for me/us to have him gone fishing or hunting or boozing it up at the bars? I suppose the women who have the latter would rather have the former, that at least he is "home". But he isn't engaged. He isn't "there". So hopefully this will be the last time I have to have this discussion with him (this is probably the 3rd time) and he can meet my apparently lofty expectations.
G.N. answers from Minneapolis on July 07, 2009
I would suggest that you have him plan the family activities for a while. If he is doing the planning, he may become more engaged.
J.B. answers from Rapid City on July 02, 2009
My husband is similar to this and this is one thing I've tried: Plan 1 night each week where YOU leave the house. Tell him that it's just as important for you to have some down time and a chance to socialize or participate in a favorite hobby (take a craft class, go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, take in a movie alone, etc...). Tell him you will have dinner waiting for him and the girls (throw something in the crockpot or make it something easy with little clean up for him afterwards). This way, he is kind of forced to spend time with the girls, and bond with them. Even better, to make the relationship stronger, try to get them something they can do outside of the house while you are gone. Say, buy them movie tickets or coupons for ice cream cones - this way they will have to get away from the computer and TV and interact a little bit. Then, have the girls make him a card or something to say thanks and that they really enjoyed spending time with him. Once their relationship develops a little more, you won't have to do so much and they will soon find ways to entertain themselves. Good luck and hang in there!
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L.S. answers from Madison on July 02, 2009
Frankly, I think it sounds like your husband is depressed. Is he like this with other aspects of his life? Does he have friends? Without knowing you or more about you, this is the first thing that comes to my mind. Just a thought.
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W.S. answers from Minneapolis on July 02, 2009
Sounds like he needs a parenting class so he can relate to his children, and probably marriage counseling to relate to you. He's checked out of the most important relationships in his life! I'm really sorry to say that.
K.L. answers from Milwaukee on July 02, 2009
my husband doesn't like doing things with me or our son too often. so i say so be it...my son and i do things that we want to do without dad. sometimes i feel like a single parent but i'm not the one missing out on my son's life. just go do things with out him!! and sometimes it's alot nicer than listening to "dad" complain about having to do something!!!
K.T. answers from Milwaukee on July 02, 2009
Seriously you might want to consider depression...I know they get tired after working and work can be very stressful, but it could be more to it. I have had similar expereinces and things are getting much better now that meds are started and he is being monitored by our doc. I have seen a huge change and am thankful for it...otherwise life could get pretty lonely. Take care!!
A.S. answers from Des Moines on July 02, 2009
Sounds like he has an internet addiction. Sometimes spending time with children isn't fun, but with an addiction, it is hard to get away from the technology to spend time with anyone. Only he can correct this, but it would be a good thing for you to encourage him to spend time with the girls doing things he likes,(fishing, car shows, sports, playing at the park) will help the girls be more well rounded and might enjoy other things besides Barbies and princesses.
T.M. answers from Madison on July 02, 2009
Sorry, I don't have any advice, but just waned to let you know you are not alone. Except my husband won't spend time with me and my son. He is always too busy with yard work or cleaning and never wants to do anything as a family and the only time he spends with our 3 year old son is when I decide I have to do something without our son, even then he always asks if our son can go to grandmas instead.
Good luck and I hope we can come up with some answers. :)
B.J. answers from Rochester on July 03, 2009
I know I am late but I just had to respond! This sounds just like my dad. He went through a very stress full time and played the video games where you shoot the bad guys and they blow up or what ever (no my cup of tea!) My mom would get so mad at him! LOL I don't remember him ever spending time with me until I was about 7. He said he was not sure what to do with me because I was a girl and he only had brothers so he did not know what to do with a girl. We talked and he found out i was much less "girly" then he thought. He started to do things like build forts in the back yard and find bugs to look at. We had a blast. We to got a game system (a nintendo back then!;) We had a blast playing together. It helped us bond. It's funny because I call my mom every night so we can vent about our jobs and my dad gets mad because I hang up with out talking to him, so my mom started puting the phone on speaker so he can hear and talk to me to ;) It is very cute. Good luck I hope everything goes ok with your husbnads job. That can be very tough.
M.W. answers from St. Cloud on July 02, 2009
I don't think it REALLY matter that you have girls and not a boy. My husband did everything he could with our daughter before our son came along.
And even now, he'll take turns taking each of them along with him for "special Daddy time." BOTH (boy and girl) kids LOVE going on errands with Daddy. Usually they end up with some kind of a treat. And then I try to come up with a nice treat for the child who stays home with me. Because they usually BOTH want to go with him. LOL.
When I was doing daycare, it amazed me how much some of the kids would CRAVE male attention. Whenever my husband came to visit (I did daycare at a different location than our house) the kids would just glow when he would talk to them or play catch or board game with them. GIRLS INCLUDED!
I think your husband needs some counseling (probably with you) to figure out what is going on with him. Good luck. I hope he becomes a more involved Dad for your daughters' sakes. Because if they don't get the male attention they need from him, they will find it elsewhere when they get a little older.