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Husband being too tyrannical with children

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My husband and I have 3 very bright children ages 6, 8, and 9. The oldest is a girl and the two younger ones are boys. My question is how do I get my husband to listen to me when I try to point out that I feel he is being too aggressive with his reactions and discipline methods? Our children are very close in age and very high strung – it’s likely genetic as I am also high strung and have had issues with ADHD since childhood. He seems to be getting less and less tolerant and more easily over-stimulated. He yells frequently, but he is not physically or verbally abusive in my opinion. He is constantly at odds with my daughter and part of the reason is because he competes with her in defense of an issue. He is always wanting to have the last word and fights endlessly for his point to get across. He is this way with me as well. He is always growling and barking, and seems to be constantly annoyed by the kids. He loves them, but they just seem to be a burden to his being.

I am a few years older, and have been on my own much much longer. I have overcome quite a dysfunctional upbringing to be a successful and healthy adult. My husband on the other hand was always taken care of, even when he went out on his own and joined the military…they began caring for him. He does have some history that he does not seem to show much emotion about – his mother had a stroke when he was a teenager and has been invalid since. His dad has been a funeral director/mortician all his life and they lived over top of a funeral home. His father worked a lot and did his best to care for and provide for his family and seemed to do a damned good job doing that and caring for his paraplegic wife.

Now, as a father, my husband seems as if he wants to be a dictator. I am strict as well and have a short fuse at times, however, I have read books, gone to school (I majored in Kinesiology, and minored in Psychology and I took several child psychology courses), written papers on dealing with childhood issues, worked in special education, substituted in the elementary school system, coached youth sports for 4 years, and I feel I am a little more “educated” on the subject of children. I make a concerted effort to think about the situation before hand and choose the right words or punishment if necessary.

This can be difficult at times because I have adult ADHD and I have a tendency to snap when I can’t think quickly on my feet. Further, when it comes to my own children, I have spent the majority of their lives with them as a stay at home mom, even when I was going to college, I went during the day when they were in school and was always there to take them and pick them up, do homework with them after school, and get them ready for bed.

My husband works and was going to school for awhile, and has sports and such to occupy him otherwise. We often argue because he likes to spend alot of time watching sports, playing games on the playstation, and checking stats on his fantasy teams on the computer. I feel like the kids feel he cares about himself much more than he cares about them. So, when I say I think he is not handling a situation in the best possible manner, I feel like I am justified in saying so. For the most part, we seem to agree on how we want to raise them, and want to bring up independent, respectful children, and we have gone around and around at which discipline methods work and which to try.

We even attended a parenting course when our children were younger and adopted some useful methods at that time. However, as the children have grown, I feel my husband has failed to grow with them. Our middle child has severe ADHD so that is another issue we often disagree about…how to deal with him and his quirks…another subject I have studied and written on extensively.

My husband’s answer to me when I try to point out that I feel the way he handled an issue or situation is incorrect, or slightly tyrannical, he defends himself aggressively and then says “well then I just won’t discipline the kids anymore.” This cop-out response is getting old and frustrating, and I am at my wits end about how to get him to listen to himself and realize that he is not so justified in his reactions, and that he is becoming more like an ogre every day.

He will admit that often times he speaks and reacts without thinking first…but he won’t do anything about it and repeats this cycle endlessly. We have seen a therapist in the past for our own communication problems, and we only slightly got any benefit from it because we just don’t see eye to eye on the way things are. We have our marital issues, but are good companions and good friends. I feel like the only way he would take me seriously and realize that he needs to take a second look at his actions and reactions, is if I took my children and left him. I have threatened, but he doesn’t take me seriously, he often takes it for granted that I will hang in there regardless of how bad it seems to be for me.

For my kids’ sake, he really must consider that maybe he needs to work on his issues or he will be out of a family. I have bought books and asked him to read them, he says he will, but never does…he is a very stubborn, self-centered person….how do I get him to understand how serious I am about this problem without actually having to leave?

I can’t decide if it will be better for my children to leave or to stay? I know he won’t listen to me; it’s like he is in competition with me for righteousness…I am also stubborn, but when it comes to our kids and raising them, he is far more so. So, who will he listen to and how do I get him to listen to them?

Husband being too tyrannical with children

Answered by on -

A.

The question here is who is right about parenting. Is your husband approach correct? Is your approach correct? It does not matter whose opinion we decide to accept. The only thing that matters is whose opinion is correct. I would recommend finding a good family therapist and a behaviorist. If I read your correspondence correctly, it seems as if you are saying to me that the children are doomed to poor behavior because of their Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There are many therapists who would not agree with that position. Parenting is a very, very serious issue. It must be done correctly. Almost good enough is not good enough. Your goal as a parent is to raise healthy children who are ready to begin life at the age of 18. That’s the goal, plain and simple, to have them be physically and mentally ready, and to have done your best job to prepare them. They are like a product in the making and no one would disagree that parenting is the main factor in the development of the child. Is your husband self centered? Perhaps he is, certainly you have described him that way. Can he learn to be a good parent? Yes, I am sure that is possible. Will he be interested in doing what is necessary to become a good parent? That is a question that only he will answer. He may be turned off to the issue of parenting because it seems as if you have taken the approach that you are the expert and what could he possibly know. It seems as if you want him to adopt your way of parenting which becomes then a power issue in the relationship. I would let a true professional help you learn how to parent. I am afraid that a minor in psychology, personal experience with ADHD, and working with children with special needs does not make you an expert on parenting. I don’t mean to insult you in any way and if we were having this discussion over coffee, or in the halls outside an office I would offer none of this advice. However, the issue of raising your children in the healthiest way possible is too important for me to simply assume that you know best. I truly don’t believe that anyone other than a skilled professional can help you in this situation. From my limited perspective, this is not an issue of ADHD, but is an issue of parenting. I wish the best of luck.

Husband being too tyrannical with children

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on July 7, 2005.

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). Husband being too tyrannical with children. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/07/07/husband-being-too-tyrannical-with-children/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 May 2019 (Originally: 7 Jul 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 May 2019
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