Perils of the Parental United Front

My husband and I have two boys ages 7 and 8 - happy, spirited, appropriately willful little people. My husband is an extremely goodhearted person, profoundly oriented towards justice and loves our kids deeply. He is currently going through a depression, for which he is receiving treatment, which hopefully will help.

But in the meantime he has become extremely short with our boys, having significant outbursts of anger - harsh yelling though certainly nothing physical. I can see this is hurting the kids, and I want to protect them, but he keeps accusing me of undermining him if I don't "back him up" in situations when he has flown off the handle. We've tried to reconcile our differences when he is calm, and he seems to understand where I am coming from, but the next time he gets angry it is like all that work has flown out the window.

I am wondering if others have encountered this, or what wisdom exists around parenting choices that are different.

Many thanks for your thoughts.

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Mar 20, 2011
Anger and Depression
by: Don


It has been my experience that men can experience depression according to how they have been raised. If it was okay for boys to cry and feel sad in their family then they can show sadness later on.

If it was not okay, or if the child just decided for himself that "big boys don't cry" then they may experience irritability and anger when depressed.

In fact, this is one thing that keeps men from seeking help...they say, "I am not sad and crying all the time! I can't be depressed. I just have an anger problem."

One other factor is that your husband is in therapy right now. In therapy things usually get worse emotionally before they get better. It's just part of the recovery process.

Therapy is not always about getting rid of painful feelings. It is frequently about listening to and working through the feelings. Often that takes some time.

I would advise a similar client to turn over as much of the parenting obligations as possible to his partner for a bit. At least until his emotions stabilize and his depression lifts.

Hope this helps. Take Care,

Mar 19, 2011
Sounds tough...
by: Anonymous

Sounds like your husband has a real insight problem. I imagine he is defending some deep pain of his own. Does he see his behavior more clearly afterward? It sounds like you definitlely need some professional help on this on.

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