I'll try to put this in a nutshell: I have 2 kids (8 & 10); share joint physical custody with their dad (4 days at my house 3 days at his). We get along well and (usually) agree about (most) issues that involve the kids. If there is a problem, we can usually work it out with a few emails or phone calls. With me so far? Enter new hubby. He's got a 12 yr old son who lives in MA; DH has never lived with son or son's mom, has no custody, no visitation and rarely gets to see son.
Hubby is becoming hyper-vigilant about the (my) kids...today he told me that he didn't want my sitter taking the kids canoeing because she might only be able to save one of them if something happened. I've employed this young woman for over 4 years and trust her completely. DH got mad at me because I wasn't freaked out when I went to pick up my son from a playdate and no one was at the house. I had a good idea where they were, the mom is a friend and has all my phone #s. If I hadn't heard from her by 7pm, I might have started freaking, but not before. If there was something wrong, she would have called.
I know he is compensating for not being with his own son, but he's making me nuts AND making me doubt myself as a parent. I think since he's only lived with me and the kids for less than 2 years he's still in that stage new parents are in when they bring home baby for the first time and realize how dangerous EVERYTHING is. He reads stories in the news everyday about kids getting hurt, or dying...but we can't put them in a bubble and keep them from doing anything, right? I know it's coming from a good place, but how do I get him to calm down and back off? And should I?
I don't know what to tell you. There have been a lot of things happening to children lately, and it sounds like they have been having an effect on your dh.
It's a GOOD sign that he is worried-it means that he really loves those kids as if they were his, so even if it a PITA, at least he loves them. So often you hear about stepfathers not bonding w/ the stepchildren, or treating them badly.
Maybe someone else on here has better advice. I'm sorry nobidy else has responded.
I agree that it's a good sign that he's taking such an interest in the kids, but at the same time, I can see how his behaviour could be annoying. I don't think you can just let this slide or it's probably going to keep bugging you.
I would recommend the sandwich technique. Say something positive, then the negative thing that you need to say, and then something else positive. I would suggest thanking him for his input and let him know you appreciate his interest. Then try using some I-statements with him. For example, say, "I feel disrespected when you criticize my parenting style," or "I feel hurt when you suggest that I don't know what is best for my children when it comes to canoeing," or "I feel angry when you [do whatever]" and then say something positive again. It could go something like this:
"Thanks so much for taking such an interest in the kids. I feel hurt, though, when you criticize my choices. I need you to respect my ideas. I know that you love the children a lot and I do too so let's work through this together"
Sounds like his intentions are good - but overboard.
Maybe you need to sit down and work though how the 2 of you will coparent.
Who makes what decisions etc.
This may sound like an odd question but does he catastroph-ize (is that even a word?) other situations as well?
Ok, here comes the voice of experience for ya!
When we married, I had two kids (full custody) and he was a bachelor. NATURALLY, he had NO IDEA how we all had survived without him! He was a bank executive and more than once I had to remind him "I'm not one of your tellers ... you do NOT get to dictate the rules here!"
he also thought kids were just "little people". He thought they could reason like an adult. He finally learned that explaining in intricate detail why something should or should be done fell on deaf ears ... and my way of saying "You do that again and I cut off your head and flush it down the toilet!" worked everytime.
My favorite story: My 4 year old asked "Dad, why can't we see air?" So hubby explains how air particles are not construed to be seen by the naked eye because there is nothing to attract or reflect light particles. My son sitting there with a big 'ole dead look on his face. I patiently let dad finish and then I look to my son and say, "John ... because it's invisible!" John's little face lights right up and he says, "OH!!!" and goes back to eating pizza. And that story, right there, illustrates the differences I'm talking about. He was "serious" ... trying to be "the parent" ... instead of just treating them like the kids they were.
Since he'd never actually lived with kids, I had a little training time on my hands with him (but he actually trains very well!). We ended up being written up in our local paper twice ... full page stories each time ... about being a stepfamily that works!
I would just calmly remind him that you managed to raise two kids without killing them before he arrived and between the two of you, they are going to be fine ... and he needs to destress a little.
Believe it or not, it's a common thing that people go thru. I don't know if women do it, but I've heard more than one story about new dads coming in all gung-ho. And also on the 'believe it or not" list is the reason that he just wants to be a good dad. Really. He does.
ok, so it just so happens that you are like my dh and I am more like your dh. And yes we have had only 1/2 as much experience than you do in parenting. And I am a firm believer in your gut feeling, the mommy instinct that we all have. But on the otherhand Wow the LOVE he must have for your kids and you. I would have a problem if I picked up my children after a play date and no one was at home. My husband probably would not have as much of a problem with that. And my husband wants to take our 2 girls out on the kyak this week by himself and I absolutely do not want him to for the same reason your dh mentioned... It must be a control thing for me. lol.
I can understand that your parenting is being disrespected. I get that too. So do you think he does not trust your judgement, has he said something like that? Cause then smack him. just kidding. But if not just think of the times when your heart lept out of your chest because you felt your kids were in danger.
[quote="indydebi"]My favorite story: My 4 year old asked "Dad, why can't we see air?" So hubby explains how air particles are not construed to be seen by the naked eye because there is nothing to attract or reflect light particles. My son sitting there with a big 'ole dead look on his face. I patiently let dad finish and then I look to my son and say, "John ... because it's invisible!" John's little face lights right up and he says, "OH!!!" and goes back to eating pizza. And that story, right there, illustrates the differences I'm talking about. He was "serious" ... trying to be "the parent" ... instead of just treating them like the kids they were.[quote]
That right there is my husband's twin brother!
Thanks everyone. I'm definitely calmer today. Debi, your response was just what I needed; funny how the situations are similar...I believe your husband is/was a stand up comedian. So's mine.
I know DH is saying this stuff because he loves me and the kids. And he's unemployed at the moment, so he sits at home and reads the news. We will definitely be talking more about this stuff before it comes up again. Bit I did manage to raise these kids without him thus far and I would NEVER put them in harm's way. He should know that; that he would even doubt that for a second is what distresses me.
Ours isn't a stepfamily and we disagree, at times, on what's OK for our son. It is not fun, since it does feel like the other person doesn't "trust" you. In my own mind, I absolutely trust my husband to take good care of my son. However, that doesn't mean I believe he will make exactly the same decisions I would given situations where decisions are needed. Sometimes "trust" does mean giving up control, and it really is hard-- even when you know the other person loves your child. We now work hard to discuss differences and limits before situations arise, but that isn't always possible. Good luck on working it out.