Reply To: Non ADHD Spouse – What can I do?

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I nearly cried when I read your post and your comment under it, because I’m stuck in a very similar dynamic and feel so ashamed, discouraged and disappointed in the weird reality I find myself in. I’m sorry you’re in the same boat of feeling like you have to parent your spouse and teach him how to parent your kids, but it was also a huge relief to me to discover that I’m not the only one!

I’ve been asking my H to take a parenting course for years at this point, and like you, I’m the one who has to handle any parenting around rules, routines, being consistent, enforcing consequences, handling tantrums and anything remotely emotional or difficult. It’s exhausting. I feel like my H sets the kids up to fail by being inconsistent, not following routines and breaking rules, but then he gets angry and punishes them. I’m solo parenting most of the time, because when I try to leave it to him, my kids will be screaming/crying within minutes. I’ve told him I think his parenting is bordering on emotionally abusive at this point, and we’ve talked SO many times about what he needs to do (be consistent, stay calm, no surprises, don’t change rules), but he just doesn’t do it. I think he parents according to his mood, which is super destructive and no one knows what to expect or when he’s going to ignore behaviour or freak out and punish it. I think it’s very similar to living with an alcoholic, to be honest.

I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to be with him, but the thought of him having the kids unsupervised if we got a divorce is terrifying. I hate how he parents, and he says he hates it too, but doesn’t do anything about it. I’m so exhausted, resentful and angry that this is how our relationship is and what he’s like as a father, and mad at myself for giving my kids such a chaotic, unstable home life. I wish my husband would get it together and parent the way our kids deserve, and it’s very hard to accept that I have no control over that. We’re currently fighting because he still hasn’t found time to take an online parenting course, but somehow found time to take up bread making, starting a sourdough and looking for a new mountain bike (he currently never bikes). When I pointed that out to him, he got mad at me. It really makes me feel crazy sometimes.

I’m so sorry you’re also the primary parent and having to “coach” your husband at parenting. Sometimes I think having an outside person like a counsellor hear all the things my H actually does when parenting might be the only way to shame him into parenting better. He doesn’t seem to be affected by seeing our son cry and scream (which he never does when I’m parenting), and often gets mad at me when I step in, even though what he’s doing is clearly not working.

Many hugs to you, and I hope you find something that gets through to your husband. I feel like people like us should get help, or be allowed to have another live-in adult to make life manageable!