How do I connect with my 2 year old child?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 year, 1 month ago.

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    I am 34 year old male. I had very rough childhood. So bad that I don't want to recall it. Due to that I never got chance to learn standing up for myself. I hesitate in socialising. I have only one friend a true friend whom I can share anything. I witnessed abuse in my childhood. A lot and of different kind. I managed to get away from it by isolating myself. I never graduated when it is normal in my country to graduate. I was beaten by my parents many times even in my twenties. Never had a father son relationship. Regularly being shouted at by my parents was normal for me. My parents were always fighting with each other both in public and private. It was a mess. Now my father is dead. He passed away last year. Never went to his grave since then and don't want to.

    Now I have a Child a 2 year old boy. He is Capricorn like me. I love him so much. but from his birth he is not attached to me. I don't spend alone time with him because I don't know what to do. I am scared of myself that I will start shouting and start hitting because it is the only childhood I know.

    Unlike my father I never hit or shout at anyone. I promised myself that I will never hit my wife or child what so ever.

    I love my child but when I see other fathers with their sons it looks so artificial to me. I know now that by isolating myself from this relationship I will have no father son relationship in future. A part of me says it's ok …because I am not hurting my child but a part of me wants to enjoy and play with him.

    Guide me please. I have never written on any other forum about my life. Sorry if my english is not good.



    Dear A.J:

    Your English is good enough and so is your heart.

    I am glad you didn't and do not hit or shout at your wife or your kid. You do not hurt your two year old in these ways (hitting and/ or shouting), but you want to go a step further with him, not only to avoid harming him, but to love him and be loved by him, have a close relationship with him, now and in the future.

    To do so, you have to trust yourself to not harm him, to trust yourself to do good by him, in a closer relationship. Is it that you are afraid that your anger regarding the severe abuse you suffered will cause you to harm your two year old, if not by hitting or shouting at him, then in some other way?



    Mother of 3

    Good for you for reaching out. Awareness is a big piece of the puzzle, and you're already experiencing that. That is such a great start.
    I also grew up in an abusive household. My father's philosophy was, ‘When all else fails, resort to violence.' Except that rarely did we experience the ‘all else' part, just the violence part. I thought this was normal as a child. I thought other children were regularly beaten like I was. It wasn't until I was put in counseling as a 14-year-old, did the counselor inform that my belief was incorrect. I ended up leaving home at 17.
    In the many years as a child and in early adulthood when I was not yet a parent, I promised myself many things. In the beginning, I swore I would never even have kids, so sure that I would damage them because of my upbringing. Later, when I realized that I did want to have children, I promised myself that I would never do to them what was done to me. Trauma is really a powerful thing. It was almost as if the pain I suffered propelled me to the opposite end of the spectrum, as the mother I have become is patient and loving. I was taught what NOT to do, so to speak, because of being so acutely aware of the damage that violence can do.

    I have not been perfect. There are challenges many times a day, every day, especially when kids are 2! Time outs are a great tool. My husband and I used to joke when ours were little that time outs were more for the parents than the kids. It allows you as the parent to get some space, breathe, and re-center yourself in moments of frustration. I regularly tell my kids that ‘mama needs a time out' if things get frustrating.  (2 of my 3 are twins, so I had 2 2-year-olds at the same time. See: breathing!) When I have lost my temper and raised my voice, I take responsibility for my actions. I apologize to my kids. They need to know that adults make mistakes, too, and the important thing to do is take responsibility. This was never taught to me, or modeled by my parents, but somehow it makes sense and works.

    The other thing to remember is to try to see from your 2-year-old's perspective. Life is not easy when you're 2! You're life is ruled by adults, and you have almost no say in what happens day to day. They are learning and growing so much in such a short period of time, and that is hard. It's their job to test their limits and find their place in the family,  and in the world. Remembering this helped me immensely. Set firm boundaries but enforce them with love and kindness. There are wonderful books and online information about doing this. I have read so many!  Because I didn't have the model from my family. You can also join a support group. It's really amazing the power of just simply verbalizing your struggles and hearing others talk about theirs. When you hear for yourself that you are not alone in your feelings or experiences, you break out of isolation and feel supported.

    I am a mom, not a father, but I can say to connect with your child at this age can present challenges. They are not necessarily fully verbal and get frustrated easily. The thing that mine wanted most (and still want!) was time with me or their dad. It didn't matter exactly what we did. They don't need techie toys or grand excursions. All they want is your attention,  and to be heard and engaged with. Listen to their (many) questions. Answer what you can. If you don't have an answer ask them what they think! Get on the floor and play horsey with them. Read, read, read. Read them anything and everything. Make up stories and sing silly songs. Go for walks and talk about what you see. Treasure every moment.

    Many blessings to you on your journey!






    @ Anita I just fear I will end in my father's footsteps. I have a blood pressure problem my BP is 140/100 at normal times even when I am not angry. I get angry very fast often with my Mom and I regret it so much afterwards. It's like I am programed by such way. I end up by shouting to her or to myself. It just happens. Sometimes when my wife is telling my kid to not to do something and he is doing it anyway I get flared up but I remember my past and control myself. I am very gentle with my child and let him do whatever he wants. He has become stubborn and I often get annoyed due to that. He has not learned to talk yet. he is 2 and a half years old but he had surgery when he was 6 months old and I guess that's why he is taking time to develop verbal communication. Maybe when he is able to understand me then we will go out and have alone time. Should I wait for that? what will I do when he doesn't listen to me outside? Unlike me his mother shouts at him. My mom told me that my wife did hit him several times. But my wife knows my beliefs and even if she hits him she will never hit him in front of me. I know how much my wife loves him and I know that she will shout or hit him only to teach him because she had a normal life unlike me.



    @ Mother of 3 ….. Yes I have played horsey with him. I tickle and tackle him regularly. I hug him and kiss him whenever I get chance. I do these things because my father never did them. My wife says to talk to him …that he understands stuff but I can't I don't know what to say and I don't believe that he understands yet. Whenever we say “No, don't do it” he does it anyways. His grandparent (Wife's father) takes him out and buys new toys for him regularly. They have a special bond and I am never jealous but happy because even if I can't have such bond I know he is having it from someone else. Sometimes it hurts when he goes from my lap to his grand parent. I am not able to give him more time because sometimes I am tired, he is about to be feeded, it's his nap time, he is watching cartoon on his tab, he is with my mom, he is with my wife, he is with his toys or he is running around happily. For me it's always like….leave him alone don't force yourself on him… give him space… don't disturb him. Even when in group I prefer somebody else to grab him. I don't want to restrain him from anything. I don't want to be the bad guy. I often get yelled at by my wife due to that. Last week I was having cold juice and he came to me for a sip and I let him. Now he has flu and chest infection and I am the one to blame… wife reminds me everyday. I know I will just go out of the room next time … leaving him crying behind me.

    I usually get my time with him when he is sleeping between me and my wife in the night. Then he is playing with me we are tickling and gently biting each other or he is sitting on my belly…… while his mother is shouting at him and me to go to sleep. This happens almost every night. He always sleeps closer to me… forcing me to go to the edge of the bed… while my wife has more to herself. She never complains.

    Thankyou but I am not much of a book reader. I will find e-books or read articles as usual. I am just so confused when engaging with him. On the other hand I am normal when he comes to me. I don't even buy toys for him because he can get hurt while playing or swallow something. I know I am hopeless.



    Dear A.J:

    In your posts you shared the following:

    You had a very rough childhood. Both your parents physically beat you many times. Both parents shouted at you. And they often fought with each other. One or both of your parents physically beat you when you were in your twenties. At about 33 your father died. At 34, your mother is still involved in your life and your child's life.

    As a result of the severe abuse you experienced as a child, you never learned to stand up for yourself and you isolated yourself. You suffer from a very high blood pressure. You get angry very fast, with your mother and when you do, you shout at her or at yourself.

    You also get angry at your child but you control yourself and act gently with him. On the other hand your wife shouts at your 2 year old and sometimes she hits him (not in front of you). She shouts at him to go sleep almost every night. Your wife also yells at you (“I often get yelled at by my wife..”)

    You wrote that when your child sleeps between you and your wife, he always sleeps closer to you.

    Now my thoughts and suggestions: first, you need to take good care of yourself, best you can, because of your high blood pressure. Medication, plus practices that promote health: eating healthily, exercising (a brisk, long walk per day, perhaps, or, if possible, when you get angry). Maybe calming practices such as yoga, tai chi… and maybe competent, quality psychotherapy, if possible and available for you, so to manage your emotions and increase your well being.

    What I will write next may upset you, so please take a few deep, slow breaths (another good practice), and proceed only if you are calm, take a break otherwise if and whenever you feel upset:

    For the purpose of protecting yourself and promoting your health, it will probably be a good choice that you limit or better, eliminate contact with your mother. After all, she is  50% responsible for your severely abusive childhood: she beat you. She yelled at you and she fought with your father in front of you, exposing you to all that violence. If she did not express to you sincere regret for her abuse of you, if she didn't offer serious amends, this abuse has not been resolved and no wonder you still get angry at her.

    It is time for you to stand up for yourself. You don't have to have your mother in your life.

    Regarding your wife: she is beating and shouting at your child. She shouts at him almost every day. This may very well be why he sleeps closer to you and farther from her. He is probably afraid of her, feeling unsafe in her company. He feels safer with you.

    She shouldn't be yelling at him, at all, ever. Neither should she beat him. You need to protect your child from being abused by your wife. And your wife shouldn't be yelling at you either.

    Your wife doesn't know better than you. You know better: a child shouldn't have violence perpetrated against him. Stand up to your wife and insist that she no longer does that, in your presence (the yelling) and out of your presence (the yelling and beating).

    If you do choose to stand up for yourself, it will not be easy because you are not used to it, because you learned not to, because you are afraid to do so- but if you do, there is hope for you to get healthier, for your blood pressure to go down on a regular basis and there is hope for your child.

    Please do post again.




    @ Anita … It's complicated. I live in a culture where there is a close family system. Although my elder brother has abandon my mother and showed her several times that he will not keep her with him, I can't do that. It's morally wrong and she won't survive alone. My elder brother is her favourite because he takes care of her financially but he doesn't talk to her. My younger sister (yes I am a middle child, younger to first born and elder to the only girl) is married and has 3 kids of her own. I know her husband has beaten her several times and shouts at her regularly. But she knows that she has nowhere to go. In our culture divorce women have a little future. She can't take care of my mother either because of her own problems. After the death of my father the whole family knows that I have to take care of her. I don't really care about the whole family …they were not there to save me but I care about my in-laws.

    My Father-in-law and Mother-in-law are the parents I always wanted. They are the main reason behind choosing my wife. They have always been my ideal family. My son loves them too. They told me not to abandon her and that my mother only acted like that because of my father. Funny thing is that my father or mother never yelled at or hit my kid. It's like the rules have changed altogether when you are grandparents. My mother takes care of my child when my wife is not around and believe me she is so nice to him. She tells my wife often not to shout at him and comforts my child when he is crying or yelling. If she was with my child as she was with me nothing on the earth would have stopped me from moving out. But as for now she is old & alone and we are her only company.

    You are right I need to tell my wife to stop before it goes out of control. I will talk to her and tell her that she should stop altogether or at least stop yelling at the child if I am around. My wife was the first born in her family so she is a bit spoiled and moody but she is good at heart. After all its her only child. I ignore her shouting at me because the only thing I learned from my experience is patience and compromise. We agreed on family planning and didn't have the child in our first year. My wife wanted to complete her studies and have a good career. It was my mother and father who told her that they need to see their grandchildren before dying. I didn't care and feared for the future of my child but in the end my wife persuaded me because she wanted the child as well. I never wanted children because I didn't know what I would end up doing.

    My wife is better educated than me. She has done her masters recently (completed it during our marriage and birth of the child). She loves status & power and want to pursue a career. She started going on job soon after we were married even when my child was 1 year old she started going at her job again. She tries but she is not a housewife. She gets frustrated doing housework and taking care of the kid at the same time. In one word she wanted to be  a strong independent woman but she is stuck in a house with a mother-in-law and a small child. I have not even graduated but I have self learned computers and graphic designing and I earn enough to support my family. She wants to start her career again but her mother (my mother-in-law) told her not to. She told my wife to wait at least until my child learns how to speak. I remember every time she went to office we had to drop our child to the in-laws because we were not comfortable with him being alone with my father and mother. All those times she needed to study she persuaded me let her go to her mother's house or the university ground or to a friends home. Even after marriage I think she has been at her home for 1 year in these 3 years. And I agreed because I knew it's impossible to study in environment I grew in. So you see my child has been away from me and my parents from the start. Whenever he was not staying with them every weekend I took him to in-laws to have a good time. He is a happy child as a result.

    I am sorry I went off the topic I just felt like sharing it.



    Dear A.J:

    I think that your last post is not off topic but very relevant to the topic. I am glad you shared it.

    I do see that your situation is complicated, but there are ways to make it better for you and for your son, as well as for your wife.

    You wrote: “I need to tell my wife to stop before it goes out of control. I will talk to her and tell her that she should stop altogether or at least stop yelling at the child if I am around”-

    she needs to stop yelling at him when you are around and when you are not around. Yelling is an act of aggression and she is scaring and harming your child with her aggression every day. Her yelling at him (and beating) may be a reason, on top of the surgery experience, why your son is not talking, and so, it is already “out of control” and needs to stop, now.

    From your last post I learned that your wife values education, a good career, status and power, being “a strong independent woman”. She doesn't value being a mother and a housewife. Her life situation currently is that “She gets frustrated doing housework and taking care of the kid at the same time. In one word she wanted to be  a strong independent woman but she is stuck in a house with a mother-in-law and a small child.”

    You wrote about your wife: “She wants to start her career again but her mother (my mother-in-law) told her not to. She told my wife to wait at least until my child learns how to speak”- wrong instruction, I say, by her mother, because by staying home, your wife's frustration is extreme and she reacts to her frustration by acting aggressively to her young, vulnerable child.

    As I wrote earlier, her yelling and beating him may very well delay and even prevent him from speaking in the future. He may never speak (a possibility).

    It is better that your wife does pursue what she values and be relieved of living the life she does not value; it is way, way better that she pursues her values as soon as possible. She should quit her housewife/ mother role tomorrow, if possible.

    Your mother, since she is nice to your child, and living with you, I understand, should take care of the child, and so should you, because you are gentle with him.

    My advice: let your wife know that you will do everything in your power to allow and facilitate her pursuing her values but you have one requirement, a “price” that she has to pay for your cooperation, and that is that she doesn't yell or hit the child ever, not in your presence and not outside your presence.

    (I hope that her mother's advice/instruction, within the context of your culture, can be … overruled by this logic that I am suggesting).






    @ Anita… I had a chat with my wife about the situation. Told her that she needs to stop yelling. Asked her if she was hitting him. I had a mixed answer. She told me that he doesn't listen and that sometimes he frustrates her. About hitting she neither acknowledged nor denied. About yelling she told me that she is with him the whole day playing, feeding and looking after him and she only yells when he is teasing her more than usual. She told me that she will be more careful in the future and that she too thinks it's wrong to yell at the child. Then we had an awkward talk where she tried to convey that she is the mother and I don't know anything about how to raise a child. I just listened as I know arguing will make matters worse.

    About her doing job… I am in no position to give her go ahead. It was combined family elder's decision which was conveyed by her mother. My saying in this matter will not have any weight in this scenario. She is my wife by name ….. it's complicated… she is closer to her family than me. Also I have stopped telling her what to do a long time ago. Her parents also want her to do job but they also love their grandson and they think he should be her first priority. I know as soon as he is talking she will go back to her job.

    You wrote “her yelling and beating him may very well delay and even prevent him from speaking in the future. He may never speak (a possibility).” It's not like that at all. I know what yelling and beating is and my wife is not doing it on that lever. She is just stern with him sometimes. Believe me I will not let anyone harm my child not even his mother and my wife knows it too. I told you he is a happy child always smiling and playing (until he wants something…then he is all kicking and screaming). He has started saying uncompleted words months ago. He is just affected by the operation. He never crawled because of that either. He will start talking soon.




    Dear A.J:

    I hope your child will start talking soon and develop well otherwise.

    I am glad you had the conversation that you did with your wife.

    You wrote: “I know what yelling and beating is and my wife is not doing it on that lever. She is just stern with him sometimes.”-

    I want to point out to you my experience, what I learned: a person who was severely abused, for example, being beaten until bloodied, watches a child being yelled but never beaten, and thinks: “compare to how I was treated, THIS is nothing…” But for the child who has no other experience to compare to, yelling is bad enough, and harmful.

    I am sorry to read that your wife is your wife by name only. I suppose the elders' decision, conveyed to her by her mother, to stay home until your child speaks is based on the idea that her presence with him will benefit him (or that it will look bad to other people to see a new mother not at home). Problem is, her presence with him is not benefiting him if she yells at him and otherwise expresses her frustration at staying at home.

    I hope you take best care possible of your health. Post again, anytime you'd like.


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