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Husband is horrible to daughter

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by cheesypop, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. cheesypop

    cheesypop Senior commenter

    I’m really looking for some advice. My husband almost definitely suffers from depression (not diagnosed because he won’t get help but he ticks every box). This is made worse by the breakdown in his relationship with his son (not my biological child) 9 years ago. He was 15 and they haven’t spoken since.
    It was a horrible time; my husband wasn’t entirely in the wrong and his actions came from love but ultimately he pushed him away; and his son had somewhere to go (back to his mums). I couldn’t really intervene to change anything as ultimately, I was not his parent. I regret that and have told my husband this in the past.
    Our daughter is 16, and they are falling out all the time but his reactions are extreme. He is not a teacher and not used to teenagers. To be honest, I think he’s a bit scared of her because she has opinions. I (like every teacher) know which battles to pick but he doesn’t. Today, he has shouted at her about ‘the way she spoke to him’. It could be interpreted 2 ways; when I tried to give the alternative version I was told ‘don’t stick up for her’. He then went out for 3 hours and, since returning, hasn’t spoken to either of us (apart from her saying ‘where did you go’ and him saying ‘not far enough’).
    I know I’m in a controlling relationship, the question is, how do I avoid this having a negative affect on our (frankly, wonderful) daughter? I want to support everyone but I feel lost in the middle. Ultimately, I want her to know she’s worth more than this and that this isn’t how she should be treated, but I also want her to love and understand her dad.
    An added issue is I am the main wage earner. He couldn’t survive financially without me. Therefore he won’t leave. I couldn’t leave, take our daughter and stay in the same area (where her school is and friends are). I wouldn’t leave without her.

    What would you do?
  2. lentils22

    lentils22 New commenter

    That's really, really tough and you must feel very trapped. My heart genuinely goes out to you. I don't really know where I would even start to untangle this in your shoes, but here are a few very tentative thoughts:
    • The situation is made harder by the fact that if your husband is struggling with his mental health, it will be less straightforward to tackle it just by focusing on communication and talking things through, which is where I would probably aim to focus my efforts normally.. Is there any source of information (online, support groups, GP etc.) where you could get some insight into the ways in which depression affects thinking and communication patterns, and specialist advice about the best way to approach this situation given his depression? You deserve to be supported yourself given that you're in such a pressurised environment..
    • It sounds as though he feels you're betraying him by trying to put an alternative point of view, so if you do manage to talk about it in a calmer moment you will need to emphasis really strongly that you are not against him and want to sort it out together. Could you (sensitively) draw on the experience he had with his son to stress the importance of trying to work things out?
    • As for your daughter, as someone with two teenage daughters I would just say: try to spend as much time with her as you can, talking things through and seeking to encourage and affirm her without it descending into an attack on her dad.
    • FWIW as a teenager I had a very difficult time with my own dad and it would have made a real difference if my mum had been more open to talking about things. To encourage you, though, I did get through it and now have quite a good relationship with him. As I've got older I've also appreciated more fully how his own life experiences and mental health issues were contributing to his behaviour, and maybe your daughter will also come to see that in time.
    It may be that none of that is really relevant or helpful but I hope the fact that I've replied is an encouragement in itself. Take care xx
    Abitofeverything likes this.
  3. hankay

    hankay Occasional commenter

    Lentils has given some top advice there, I would struggle to give anything better or equal.

    From what I read of your situation, it made me think that maybe your husband is perhaps scared of losing your daughter (due to him alreay pushing his son away). And then potentially losing you. Maybe he has resigned himself to the thought that he's a terrible parent and a failure as a father (depression can put these mantras in your head).

    It does seem like a priority is to get him to talk to his GP. You really need to communicate to him that his behaviour is affecting both your relationship with him and his relationship with his daughter - and quite frankly, does he want a repeat of what happened with his son?

    I wish you all the best in what is clearly a difficult time for you and your family.
    lentils22 likes this.

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