Mother taboos, do they still exist? In this series, we discuss the last unspoken questions regarding motherhood. This week: what if you don’t like your partner as a parent?
“He does his best for me, but he’s not there for our kids. He takes my car to the garage, often brings flowers, makes sure I don’t lack anything,” says Eileen. “I have nothing to complain about him as a partner, but as a father he disappoints me every day.”
Eileen and her partner have been together for eight years and together they have two children aged two and four. “My husband rarely plays with the kids and never reads them a book. He’s not there at important times and never makes an effort to start a fun family outing on the weekend.”
According to Eileen, he is often on his phone and comes across as disinterested. “I wouldn’t consider leaving him. But sometimes I wonder if it’s not better for the kids.”
Who do you need when something bothers you?
Relationship and family therapist Joey Steur is no stranger to Eileen’s story. “Many parents come to our practice with small children. One of the first things I do is to find out in which relationship the problem arises,” explains the founder of Praktijk de Liefde.
“You have the love relationship. This is the relationship between the two of you, based on desire and intimacy. And you have the parenting relationship: the relationship where it is about taking care of the children. There is a difference between these relationships. Many couples feel that somewhere yes, but can’t put it into words.”
He said he didn’t see himself as much of a baby daddy. It touched me deeply.
“I often give couples a tip to find out who you need when you have a problem. A parent who makes sure everything works and shoots in control mode? Or a partner who listens to you, takes towards you and just takes care of it, it’s good to be aware of it and to be able to express this need to each other,” says Steur.
‘As a parent, you react emotionally’
“During the pregnancy, my partner was very involved and I had every confidence that he would be a fantastic father,” says Eileen. “Two days after our son was born, he went back to work and his focus was gone.”
“On our son’s first birthday, I snapped at him, ‘Are you actually enjoying being a dad?!’ He responded more honestly than I expected and replied that he didn’t think of himself as a baby daddy. It touched me deeply at the time.”
When it comes to children, things quickly get touchy. In such a case, you can respond as a parent or as a partner.
According to Steur, it happens in every relationship that certain phases are more or less favorable. According to her, it does not have to be a problem as long as there is room for these feelings. “As soon as it comes to children, it is quickly sensitive. It is not surprising that Eileen’s partner’s words touch her. But in such a case, you can react as a parent or as a partner.”
“As a parent, you react emotionally because someone touches your children. This often means that you lose the dialogue with your partner. If you as a partner react and ask where this feeling comes from, you create space for a conversation.”
Afraid of hurting or being hurt
Eileen’s partner continues to disappoint her when it comes to the children. She finds it very difficult to share these painful feelings with him. “She is clearly afraid that she will hurt him or be hurt herself. It prevents her from being vulnerable,” says Steur.
“Now she herself carries all kinds of emotions such as frustration and sadness. It is not only difficult for her, but also not good for their relationship. My advice is that you stay close to your own feelings when you enter into a dialogue about this. Share what you see, feel and experience and what it does to you.”
“By not blaming, judging or blaming, a partner will respond with gentleness and realize from his partner role that he does not want to inflict these feelings on you.”
Een extra dekentje voor je baby voor de kou? Niet doen, tipt Ouders van Nu.