Bad Attitude "Nothing's Ever Fun!"

Updated on August 27, 2009
S.L. asks from Boise, ID
20 answers

My husband is terribly pessimistic. I used to think it was his way of being funny, but, well, turns out he's serious. He complains constantly, too.
It seems to be genetic, because his dad and his dad's mom were the same way, constantly degrading themselves and generally being negative.

The negativity has caused a lot of problems for my FIL and for my husband. They have no self-esteem, which has led them to do things that hurt themselves and their families.

I'm not throwing in the towel on my 5 1/2 year old son, resigned that he just got their genetic pessimism and poor self-esteem, but I guess I'm a bit over-sensitive to negativity since I'm often surrounded by it.

Here is what drives me CRAZY!!!! These two incidents happened within the last few days, but they are by no means unique.

I took my boys to their favorite park to go to the Splash Pad there. We hadn't been all summer, and it's a really fun place with lots of other kids to play with. My 5 year old was chomping at the bit, hurrying to get his shoes and shirt off so he could run and play in the spraying water. Both boys disappeared into the fray and looked like they were having the time of their life.
10 minutes later, my 5 yr old came back and sat next to me, saying that this place wasn't fun at all, and that he was bored. What? He was having a blast! I told him that we would be staying for a lot longer, and after sitting next to me for a few minutes he decided that he should play a bit more. We stayed for 2 hours after that with no complaints.

Then we had our second play-date ever. It's complicated to explain why he hasn't ever been on one before this week, so I won't try. My boys were there for 2 hours, and the second the door opened, my 3 yr old started crying and said, "I didn't want you to come!" and kept saying that he didn't want to leave. But my 5 yr old started complaining, "We didn't get to do anything but have a snack. The snack took up the whole time, and it was boring. I didn't have any fun at all." Knowing full well that they didn't have a 2-hour long snack, I tried to ignore the pessimism, and attempted to get him to focus on the positive. I asked what their snack was. "Strawberry smoothies and crackers." I figured he'd be excited about the smoothies, since I don't make them often. But he said they weren't very good and he didn't have any fun at all.

He also tells me that his swimming lessons aren't any fun, and he doesn't want to do them anymore, but other times he says he can't wait to learn butterfly, and tells me how much he loves lessons. And his face during lessons is a sure giveaway that he's enjoying himself greatly. He also takes a lot of pride in the fact that he's always the youngest in his class, usually by 3 years, because he's just naturally good at it. But yet, I hear negativity about it!

Sometimes, his bad attitude seems transparent. He says that he didn't have fun at the park "because I didn't get to stay as long as I wanted." It's like having a less-than-perfect ending (like not getting a turn on the swings before we have to leave) ruins the entire outing. Other times, I can't even begin to understand what is prompting his complaints.

Maybe I have little patience for my son's complaints because I already have to deal with my husband's, and because I hope desperately that I can help my son avoid the problems his dad has. But it's driving me crazy! I'm almost to the point where I don't want to take him anywhere or set up more play-dates because it's wearing on me, and because it's embarrassing to have my son complain how he didn't have any fun before we're even out the door.

Does anyone have any ideas, short of gene therapy to try to fix the genetic pessimist mutation???

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So What Happened?

*Thanks everyone. I need all your ideas on how to stay positive, so thanks. It's hard to do--it IS like a vortex sucking me in!

Yes, this pessimism IS genetic. It's not the pessimism itself, but the low self-esteem or whatever it is. When you feel horrible about yourself, you complain and whine and everything is negative. FIL has been to counseling for years trying to overcome it. Like I said, it has led to serious problems, such as infidelity, emotional abuse and losing jobs!

Also, it doesn't affect all family members, despite having to live with this problem in a parent. It's sort of hit or miss, and I "won" the lottery :(

My husband has also been to counseling and diagnosed with serious problems. I won't spill on what he's done to hurt our little family, except to mention that (part of it) comes out as violence and emotional abuse. No, he does not think that his behavior is abnormal, and just intimating that it is abnormal sets him off big time. My son and I've been to counseling to deal with the effects of DH's behavior, but my son was really too young at the time for our counselor to do much with him, and I didn't have the $ to pay for a specialist (child psychologist).

So YES, I'm a bit paranoid! I have been worried for years about how to save my own son from the tendencies that beset his ancestors. I really appreciate your specific ideas about what to say. After one thing doesn't work, I often can't think of an alternative. Or sometimes, it's after I try 4 things that don't work, I need help to think of a 5th and 6th. This is one reason I really love MommaSource! I need ideas!

**My husband was diagnosed with severe OCPD, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Most people know OCPDers as "Control Freaks." Unfortunately, one of the main differences between OCD and OCPD is that the person with OCPD doesn't feel like anything is wrong with them. In fact, they say that EVERYONE ELSE, in the entire world, is abnormal, and they're the only normal people. This attitude makes them almost wholly unwilling to get help, and certainly opposed to taking medication.
I had HAD it with his behavior and we left a year and a half ago. It was a wake-up call for him, and he got help. He's a lot better than he used to be, or we wouldn't be back. But he's got a long way to go before he's a happy, normal person. As you can imagine, things have been rough for us, but for the past year or so, life has been pretty good.

But you can understand, with all we've been through, that I'm not about to just ignore my son's OCPD/negative tendencies. I feel a great responsibility to him to help him be a happy, positive person who does not obsess and try to control everyone around him.

Sorry there's so much background GARBAGE to explain. I think you can understand why I didn't bombard y'all with that in the first place. Thank you to those who could perceive there are deeper problems just from what I wrote. It's very draining to try to manage my husband and his problems while trying to figure out what to say to my kids!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Great advice here, don't really have anything new to write but wanted to say hang in there, you can do this. You are an angel and in the long run, they will all see it! I am sending you lots of loves!



answers from Denver on

I have just a small suggestion, which may not solve the whole problem, but maybe could help: try to make it clear to him that his attitude is a choice. When he says that he didn't have fun, say "I'm sorry that you chose to not like it" rathter than "I'm sorry you didn't have fun" or "I'm sorry it wasn't fun." I would always maintain that the activity was fun, but he chose not to like it.
Maybe you could also find opportunities to model choosing to have fun. Make comments like, "Wow, today I had to do a lot of things at work that I didn't like, but I chose to make the best of it and guess what? it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be since I decided to have fun instead of complain about it."
good luck. My husband also gets bit by the negative bug and I too struggle with showing him how to roll with the punches rather then allow himself to get beat up by life when it isn't necessary.

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answers from Casper on

In my opinion there is not a lot you can do to change you husband, but let him know how it is affecting you and you sons. The only person that can change him is him, and its not your job to parent him.
Your son on the other hand, you can have a lot of influence on! Complaining and whining are equal in my book.
I think you are right to try to ignore it. I think that works well but here are some other things you might want to try.
You could just pick a phrase and stick with it. Like "I can't listen when you talk like that", or say "first tell me three things you liked about it, then you can tell me one thing you didn't"
I like to sing a few phrases to my girls, like "please have a gratitude attitude" or "count your blessing, name them one by one"
But if those reminders are not enough then I pull out my phrase of, "I am so sorry but I just can't understand you when you talk like that." I think it is all about conditioning.
You could also do an experiment about what "boring" and "having no fun" really is like.
Perhaps after he does complain in front of someone say "next time you can just sit and do nothing" or "next time you don't have to come".
You could figure out some friends house that he can go to that really is not fun or will be a good enforcer and have him just sit for an hour, while you go and have fun with the younger one.
Or let him stay home and just sit with either you or your husband, while one of you takes the younger one to go play. And make it REALLY REALLY boring.
I think after a few times he will understand that if he complains he wont get to go. This will especially work if you know that he really is having a good time when he says he is not.
I also have heart to heart talks with my girls not sure if this will work with boys, but basically I remind them that they are in charge of their feelings and they choose if they are happy or not. If you are religious you can remind them that they can say a prayer and ask God to help their heart feel happier and look for things that are good in their lives. I have found that this alone, makes a huge difference in attitude adjustments.
Hope these ideas will help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

Your husband sounds alot like mine. And it's hard to make sure that attitude doesn't rub off on our kids. I try to make sure I point out the fun while he (both my husband and son) is having fun, instead of trying to point it out once he's decided it wasn't any fun because it is over too soon. This helps alot, because when we get to that point (have to leave a play date, amusment park, etc.) and he tells me that it wasn't any fun because he has to leave now, I can point to specific times he was having fun. Of course, I don't do it so blatently with my husband, but he sees me do it with our son and I think it's starting to have some effect on him. At least he's starting to act a little bit more positive. Hang in there and keep pointing out the positive while it's happening. One last thing -- in our attempt to help our kids be happy, sometimes we go overboard in trying to make everything fun and exciting. This teaches their little brains that if it's not fun and exciting that it stinks. The problem is that it takes more fun and exciting over time to get the same adrenaline rush as the first time. Teach your children to have fun in even quiet moments, to enjoy stopping to smell the roses.



answers from Provo on

My husband is not the same but similar he doesn’t what to do anything but once out doing something he enjoys himself. Your boys may be watching your husband and believe that is the proper behavior for a ‘man’ so they imitate.

My advice is probably harder to do than said. Don’t entertain the negativity. When one of them starts poring into the negativity ask him to stop. If he doesn’t (rather than give him all the reasons that it ‘is fun’) tell him that it is up to him to have fun. You are not leaving because he is not having fun and you are going with or without fun.

It sounds so much to be as a learned behavior and your feeding it with your response/reaction. Change your response and you can probably stifle it.

One more thing, I read online recently about a book called "A Complaint Free World" written by a minister, Will Bowen. I haven't read it yet but I am interested in some of techniques I read from the article. You may want to check your local library for it.



answers from Salt Lake City on

It sounds like your husband and FIL need to be on antidepressants. My 28 year old son was like that and was even blacker sometimes. He is on Paxil (l/2 tablet) and is so much better now. I have also heard that Welbutrin is a good one. Maybe if your husband is better, your son will gradually grow out of it.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I'm all about being totally honest with kids. even my two year old. Your son's five right? tell him: "I'm not happy with how you act after I do something fun for you. If you can't have a good attitude about it then we just won't do fun things for you. You'll get to stay home with a babysitter." also tell your husband how much its reflecting on his son! maybe that will help him with his pecimissim, at least when he's around his son. Hope that helps- I'm kinda a "shape up or ship out" kinda mom...



answers from Salt Lake City on

One thing comes to mind and that's that our children are becoming so conditioned to immediate gratification without effort through video games, light-up and sound toys that move, and all manner of gadgets that one can cause change without personal expression or sacrifice. I've noticed with my children, the more they're given opportunity to be on the computer, the wii, or other electronic devices that fees directly to their entertainment center of the brain the less they like being with people and having to work for attention, entertainment, or having to share an experience. They become very, very selfish and self involved. They don't have fun doing ANYTHING because they have to wait on other people, they have to compromise and share, and with the immediate response toys they do not have to wait, work, share, or compromise. I also notice it affects their ability and willingness to work hard on ANYthing, such as homework or chores because it takes more than five minutes to see a result. If they can't have something the way they want it with 30 seconds they become outraged or simply right it off. SO...I try to limit their exposure as much as possible...Sundays are absolutely quiet days with zero phone use or access (they're gathered Saturday night and locked in our room), no computer, no game boys, no wii, NOTHING electronic at all.

Your boys are young but I think the same thing applies. You also have a model of problem solving issues.

You're probably looking at people that aren't "group" people and also have communication issues rather than any other thing. If you don't know how to ask for what you need or would like to do, or you feel intimidated, the easiest things to say are: I'm bored, I'm tired, or I'm busy. If they don't know how to break into a group and feel apart of it, the first thing to do is try to get out of the uncomfortable situation. Your boys probably tell you they're bored at someone's house because they don't know how to navigate a new relationship and rather than tell you they may have had a nice time and be forced to figured it out again they tell you all these terrible things to keep out of the situation.

Another thing you may want to think about if you're thinking genetics, is something along the lines of being on the spectrum. Perhaps they don't have fun because they have rituals and tactile issues they can't explain.

Whatever it is; it's frustrating. Whatever it is; you have to be patient even though you'd rather chuck them out the window at times.

You may want to talk to hubby and tell him he's a grown up and though his feelings may be real to him, he MUST PRETEND for his boys so they don't think that things are supposed to be they don't learn that this is the normal behavior. Hubby can be bored all he wants, he can hate what you're doing all he wants, but he MUST PRETEND that it's nice so you're boys will learn how to, at the very least, be gracious.

You've got your work cut out for you, hugs, mama, you're doing a good job.



answers from Denver on

Hello S..
Have you considered Family Therapy? A good therapist should be able to help your family learn better communication, and would either be able to help your family if there is something wrong (like clinical depression in your husband)or to reassure you and open up better lines of communication if there isn't.



answers from Denver on

Hi S., my daughter sounds alot like your son. She is now 9 and only once in a while acts like what ever we are doing is not good enough. I always chalked it up to the "princess" syndrom. Me and my husband are very upbeat person as well as our son. She is the one that can definatly find the grey cloud in a blue sky. I am hoping she will grow out of it, it has gotten better since she is getting more mature. Just know it may not be genetic because most of both of our families are very upbeat, never negative. Keep up your good mood and dont let little grumpies rain on your parade!! (easier said that done :-0 )



answers from Denver on

The first thing that comes to mind is: Have you brought this problem up with your husband & talked about it? Second, I feel you must then be the model og positivitty... and then bring it to his attention regularly. My husband also tends toward pessimism/negativity, so I bring it out and say, What do you think will happen ... (fill in the blank)." When he gives a negative response, I cheerfully say the positive, Oh hmmm... well I think it's going to be great (with specifics as to why)" THEN when it is great, I point it out, "see honey it was really great... even though (X) happened wasn't it great that such in such happened?" After doing this a few times (you can do this rapid fire when there is a lot of negativity) then you can say, hey honey... how about we focus on only positive things for the next hour? (or hours or day) If he makes a mistake and does something negative during that time, just point it out positively by saying...Oh! We are being positive... what's a positive way we can make that same observation? (or whatever) Perhaps surprisingly I have good luck with this with my husband. I just keep at it, regularly.
Hopefully your sons will pick up on this and join in. Definitely you can play the same roles with them. Pretending you are happy 100% of the time goes a long way toward actually being happy. You can make a game of it for periods of time that are manageable & hen talk about what happens. It's key that you actually remain super positive as the ambassador.

I have a friend who complains nearly constantly. She is also extremely moody and sensitive. I actually reduced the time we spend together significantly when I realized her nagativity was affecting me. You might use examples to show your kids that people like to be around happy people... and that is the way to have and keep friends.

In the beginning it may start out feeling fake and not genuine, but over some time, it really does grow on people - people like being happy and like being aroun dpositive people.

Good luck!



answers from Colorado Springs on

The last thing you want to do is to have a bad attitude yourself, because there's enough of that in your family already. So you can't rail and scream against it... and you can't get pointy-fingered or bitter at your husband... and you already know you're not going to trade your children in, no matter what they do or say!

So look at the whole thing from another direction. If the complainer were one of your boys' friends at a play date at your house, how would you handle the negativity from the friend? I imagine you'd have a good way, and you'd do it well.

And it sounds to me as if you're doing quite well with your son! A lot of what comes out of boys' mouths is not really what they mean (wait till they're teenagers!). Your son is not old enough to realize what the whining sounds like. He may have done his complaining because that's what he hears, or because it gets a response from his mom, but he evidently enjoyed the play date and the swimming, and you know it, and deep inside he knows it.

The complaining/whining/negativity might be something your boys are trying out right now, and you'll have to see them through it and *keep your own sense of humor.* What is funny when they act this way? I was smiling when I read your description! As they interact more with friends and friends' families, they're going to experience other ways of looking at things (for good or for bad), and they may choose better ways of responding.

You say you feel surrounded by pessimism. I think the best thing you can do for your boys in the long run is to make sure you don't get sucked into the negativity business yourself. And I do mean "sucked in," because it can seem like a whirlpool dragging you down. Since it's at your house to stay, you will need to counteract it in *yourself* first of all, with humor (a great disarmer of negative attitudes) and with common sense. Look for anything good in whatever your sons (or husband or in-laws) say or do. Look for anything funny, even if you can only laugh at it inside yourself. Learn to laugh at yourself as well. Have some happy, funny friends and let their attitudes rub off on you. Try to inoculate your own attitudes against anything that could drag you down.

Negativity is not genetic; it is taught. Sensitivity, however, can be genetic. If your boy is a sensitive child, treat him the way you would if the sensitivity came out in any other way but complaining. What would you do if he were fearful? If he had easily hurt feelings?



answers from Salt Lake City on

Pessimism is a learned behavior, but it still passes through family, because that's the environment. And I agree that you want to keep your boys from learning it. It's kind of hard because that's what they see their dad doing. But you have a lot of impact on them.

Make rules about complaining. Something like, you have to say one positive thing before and after every complaint, or you have to put a nickle in the jar for every complaint. Make sure that you are a very good example of positive talk and behavior. Don't give in to their "don't wannas" especially if it's something long term - like the swim lessons (he has to finish the season, so he might as well enjoy it). When they complain, simply say "I'm sorry that part was hard. But I know you liked ____ ". Just don't fall in to the trap of arguing.

I would also sit down with your husband and talk to him about it. He probably doesn't even realize that what he's been doing is not healthy or even not normal behavior - it's what he grew up with. Let him know that you don't like it when he is down on himself because you know it's not true. It's not fair when he is down on the family, because that is reflecting on you and the kids. And let him know that his attitude is starting to rub off on your boys and that it scares you. He may need councelling, but it will probably be difficult to get him there. Just let him know that you need him to avoid the pessimism and negativity around the kids, and around you, and that you're going to hold him to the rules as well as the kids.

Be aware that many pessimists won't accept that they are. They call themselves "realists". But attitude is all about perception and there is no reality beyond perception. It's kind of confusing. Just be aware that there's a good chance he won't admit/accept that he is overly negative or that there is a problem. Just keep working on it, and make it for the kids' sake. He may try, for them.


answers from Denver on

Pessimism is a learned behavior and has nothing to do with genetics. We need to be careful, especially with our children, in supporting a 'vicitm' energy. Many times we just give up or over medicate people because we believe it is just genetics and there is nothing we can do about it. The reality is that geneticists are realizing that genes are affected by belief rather than the other way around. Believing that genes run our lives and that we have no choices is disempowering and leaves us feeling hopeless and helpless.

If you can shift your thinking about your sons behavior and see that he can simply unlearn one way of seeing things and learn a new way of seeing things, you will be more empowered to help him make this shift. You can use many different techniques to show him that how we look at things determines how they will turn out. We create our reality out of our beliefs.

Another shift that will help is to let go of some of the 'shoulds' you have right now about your husband and even your son. They are on their own journeys and the more you cling to the judgement that they should be different than they are, the more stress you will feel. I'm not suggesting that it is easy to be around negative energy, I am suggesting that you might actually be matching some of that negativity with the focus on their behavior as something that is 'wrong'. Their behavior is what it is and no amount of shoulds will ever alter that. However, as you shift from wanting it to change to managing how you are reacting, things can dramatically alter.

Instead of sitting in the painful, stuck place of "It is hard for me when my husband/son is negative and they shouldn't be that way" which creates reactions such as nagging, judging, and feeling angry/stressed; you could shift to "It is hard for me when my husband/son is negative and therefore..." You can fill in the therefore with many things about how you can respond, teach, support, and self-care.

I have found that my life has become much lighter since I have begun to let go of 'responsibility' for how other people behave. I still teach my children, I still set an example, and I still gently speak my truth about things I observe. I have also released my need to 'fix' others and now allow them to choose and learn from their own experiences because goodnes knows I have enough of my own journey to deal with every day. No matter how hard we try, even out of deep love, we can never change another person. However, many times, as we change our own attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors, people around us start to shift too.



answers from Pocatello on

I think the irritability can be inherited but also learned, as I have a husband and son who take after my FIL. I think it's also important to teach a person to be polite, even to family members. If you're not having fun, find something else to do but don't complain. And certainly don't make rude remarks at someone else's home. I realize this is easier said than done, I didn't do a great job myself. We need to also teach our kids that they are not "entitled" to have fun or be entertained. It's ok to do something anyway.



answers from Pocatello on

Hi, S.. A couple thoughts jump to mind. First, gene pools are weird and strong. I see similiar phraseology of my kids, husband, and his family, too (more on that in a second). But also, it sounds like your son has found your button. Above all, it's time to come up with a new phrase. Teach him that "I didn't have any fun" is unacceptable, and come up with a new phrase or two he can substitute, then stick to your guns and enforce it. "It was different than I expected" then you can inquire how, or leave it with that statement. Or "I played with this and that"--a concrete statement that tells something truthful, NOT how he felt about it. Don't expect this shift to fall into place right away, but with your prompting (How can you say that differently?) he can learn. His current wording could hurt other people's feelings, so he needs to keep his mouth quiet or choose other words.
About genetics... in my sweet husband's family, there's a lot of "with my luck..." and a bit of general pessimism so why even try. When my kids were a bit older than yours, I took them aside and explained that these weren't truthful statements, that they were bad habits, and they would learn a different way to talk even though sometimes we'll hear dear-old-dad say these words. My oldest are 12 & 14 (others are 3 & 7), and what a difference that, and other, conversations have made. It's a gift to point out our flaws, and have our kids choose a different way, as long as it's done respectfully. I hope these ideas encourage you!



answers from Denver on

S., coincidentally, I've been thinking about pessimistic people a lot this week. It's important for you to know that pessimism is not genetic--it's a bad habit. It's normal for kids to absorb their parents' bad habits, because they essentially imitate their parents' behaviors.

Your husband has COMPLETE CONTROL over this bad habit, although he will likely never change it. It isn't any more difficult to change than nail-biting, smoking, cursing, overeating, etc., although I've never met a pessimist who owned up to it and fixed it.

If I couldn't get my husband to address the issue, then I'd bluntly tell my kids that daddy is WRONG when he talks like this--every single time that daddy does it in front of them--and correct the children every single time they do it. Give them a very boring time out every single time they express pessimism--no need to even be angry about it. Just something cheery like "Sweetie, you're being grumpy again. Go sit against the front door for a few minutes." You might be able to snap one of them out of this bad habit.

Best of luck to you! For anyone else reading this, ALL bad habits/addictions get worse over time. ALL of them. Unless the person makes a conscious decision to quit the bad behavior, please, please don't pretend it will go away, especially if you're about to marry them. Hardly anybody ever gives up their bad habits.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Have you talked to your doctor about your husband? My husband was the same way until he finally asked for help and went to the doctor. He was diagnosed with severe depression and borderline bi-polar and OCD. That was in June. The doctor prescribed an anti- depressant for him and it is a change that is unbelieveable. He doesn't get upset whene there is a lot of comotion in our home with the grandkids, he laughs and jokes around, he's not grumpy ALL the time like he used to be, quit drinking and is back to the man I married. This depression is a sicknesss that has to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain. I know of a lot of people that are on them, including myself.

As far as your son goes, I think you need to also talk to his doctor...maybe he is just modeling his Dad but I know that a doctor could help you one way or the other and give you good advice.

My husband was so negative all the time that I couldn't stand it anymore and that I needed him to be more positive about my business, about me, about his addictions and that he can kick them (not drugs). I finally said I am done unless he gets some help, I was fully done with him and the marriage, my business suffered and I just couldn't have that because he was unemployed.

That was his wake up call and he finally went for help. Maybe your son can get some counseling from a pediatric counselor if he needs it. I hope this helps, I'm just telling you my story and the outcome. Good Luck and God Bless.



answers from Denver on

Hi S., I don't know if this will be of any help but as I was reading you note, I kept thinking "This sounds like normal kid stuff." Could it be that you are over-reacting? I know I over-react frequently, especially when it is something that I'm worried about. Another thing that I was wondering about was what if you did a little reverse psychology. Next time leave your complainer son behind telling him that it will be "too boring" for him. Or at the first hint of a complaint, take him aside and have him sit with you - no complaining allowed - and not let him participate in the activity he was complaining about. Either one of these methods would really get my son's attention - I suspect that I wouldn't be hearing much complaining for a while. Good luck!



answers from Denver on

Oh my gosh, it's almost like I wrote your post! ;)

One difference is that my boys are naturally optimistic but I get to watch as they (well, just the older one so far) tries to emulate his dad by doing the negativity thing. And he's at an age (4 1/2) where he's really wanting to be like Daddy, hang out with Daddy, etc. So I do what you do & try to be positive all the time. And yes, it's exhausting!!

I try to find positive people for us to hang out with as much as possible, particularly friends where the *kids* are really positive and agreeable and happy. (This has the added advantage that I can remind him of how much fun it is to hang out with so-and-so because they're always ready to have fun.) And while we're doing stuff I call attention to how much fun we're having, or how much fun we're about to have. (I'm sure you can visualize the excited expression I plaster on my face!) And afterward I'll ask what was his favorite part about something. We also talk about favorites at bedtime (we used to do least favorites, too, but my DH has become continually more negative so I leave that out now). I started a gratitude journal for us (and my son fills in what he thinks Daddy might be thankful for if Daddy can't think of something, HA!), though I haven't kept up on it very well.

As for keeping yourself up, do you have some good friends you can spend time with? My girlfriends absolutely SAVE me! I have to get away once in a while to recharge... and then I get a little jump to be strong for my kiddoes so they don't have to live that depressing/depressed life. I believe it is at least partially a learned behavior in our case, even though my DH has had some chemical issues with depression.

Best of luck & hang in there. You WILL make a difference for your kids!

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