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I don't know where to turn.

  1. #1
    akachan's Avatar
    akachan is offline Registered User
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    Sep 2009

    I don't know where to turn.

    Hi. I am the husband and father of a smart and sensitive 4 year old boy and a charismatic and bubbly 2 year old girl. We have been in HK for nearly 7 years and my wife is stay at home by her choice. We tried a domestic helper after my daughter was born but it was a bad experience and now my wife would rather do herself. That is fine and I understand her position on it. I do everything I can to help out around the house and with the kids. I come home around 7.30 each night, I never go out drinking or come home late except on the very rare occasion when I have a late meeting. I put the kids to bed, get them to brush their teeth, bathe them, etc right when I get home and I love doing it. I take them out on weekends so she can have time to herself and cook dinners and wash up, whatever....I love the kids more than anything. The reason I say all of this is because I really need help with a situation and I don't think that the problem is as simple "help around the house more" solution.

    My wife sometimes loses her temper in a very extreme way--screaming at the top of her lungs (literally) at the children, sometimes even incoherently, once or twice making my son throw up from fear. I feel she is emotionally abusing them and I see it in my older one that he is afraid to say or do the wrong thing sometimes. I know she is not a bad person or an evil person trying to hurt them--I think she doesn't realize that she is losing control and the effect it is having on the family. I think she is stressed out and cannot manage her stress. I want to help her and I want to protect my children at the same time. This mainly happens when I am at work because if I am there I can quickly diffuse it by calming the children down or taking them out to play. I have left work immediately and rushed home any time the situation is escalating.

    They are not bad kids by any stretch, but they are 2 and 4--they fight, cry, break things once in a while, draw on themselves with markers--all the things kids are supposed to do.

    I've recommended my wife take a yoga class or join some clubs and she does sometimes and it seems to help a bit, but it is not enough. I asked if she wanted to take a holiday by herself or with her friends and I would take time off work and watch the kids. But she hasn't done it. If I could quit my job to take care of them I would, but it's just not reasonable or viable. I am ashamed writing this that I don't know how to make this issue better and I feel I am failing as a father to ensure a nurturing environment for my children. That said, they are the most important thing in the world to me and I would do anything for them.

    How can I help my wife and children? Does anyone have firsthand experience that would help me or links to articles or a therapist's name ---anything, please.

  2. #2
    vmg12 is offline Registered User
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    Jan 2014


    I'm no expert but I think you BOTH need to go on a holiday. When was the last time you've spent a relaxing holiday together? She needs your support not just with chores at home or with the kids but emotionally as well. Other activities you've mentioned (yoga class, clubs, etc) might help a bit but if she's doing it alone, it's still difficult to get her mind off from the worries she has at home.

    If there's someone you can trust the kids with, even for an overnight relaxing time with your wife, do it. Stay overnight at a hotel, pamper yourselves, get a massage or go to a spa, just the two of you. It doesn't only help her get the stress out but it will help your relationship as well.

    Additionally, maybe the household chores are becoming too overwhelming with 2 kids running around the house. Maybe it is better to find a part time helper who will do the other chores so your wife only needs to take care of the kids.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

    Mama_Bebe likes this.

  3. #3
    angtao40 is offline Registered User
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    Feb 2014
    North Point

    Encourage her to take short breaks and find a part time nanny to play with the kids for a couple of hours.

    Talk to her and see if she needs help.

    Talk her out for dinner so she can have a break in the evening.

  4. #4
    charade is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    While strengthening your own relationship with your wife might help, there is nothing here to suggest a strained relationship. Though you could reflect on whether you are supporting her needs emotionally, like letting her talk about her day and concerns and really listening and responding.

    It does sound like being around the kids for the better part of the day is getting to her, and she would benefit from part-time help at least so look into that.

    However, I also think that when someone screams like that on a regular basis, there is an anger management problem and only that person can, through discipline and practice, get a grip. I say this as someone who recognises that I have a tendency to 'lose it' when very stressed or tired, though not at my kids and not at the level you described.

    One solution is to remove stressors but that's possible only to an extent, the other is to deal with stress better. The first step is to recognise there is a problem and want to do something. You might try having a serious conversation with your wife on why you find her behaviour unacceptable (if you haven't already) and you could also get an opinion from a professonal counsellor on whether your wife needs help, and then try to convince her to go for counselling/anger management classes. It might be easier for both of you to go, though it's really hard to convince someone who doesn't want to go, that they need to.

    sundayz0 likes this.

  5. #5
    twontheway is offline Registered User
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    Apr 2013
    Hong Kong

    Agree with Charade that you should offer counselling as an option. She could talk to her doctor (or another one if she's too embarrassed), who could then recommend someone. Dr Sarah Borewin at Central Health is good.

    Does she have a good network of stay at home mums that she meets up with? Talking to other mums may help and the part time cleaner is an option you should look in to.

  6. #6
    miran is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2011
    hong kong

    it would be good to get a helper (again). I have gone through this myself and have friends who have (maybe not as extreme but some form of anger or stress which comes out on kids) - when we did not have help for some time.

    We all assume that because our moms or friends in west can do it; so can we. But things are different - social life, child care in HK works under the assumption that everyone has a helper. Support groups for moms-with-no-helper are few and far between. And it can be very tiring.

    I am sure your wife is a lovely person. With a helper and some counseling things might get better. Also, clear communication helps. Tell your wife that you are disturbed / disappointed / aggrieved by the effect on your kids; and then look for a solution together ?!?

  7. #7
    sjcolbert is offline Registered User
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    Jun 2013

    I would try to ease change into the situation. Drastic change can be even more stressful. Employing a helper one day a week to do some set duties to take some pressure off might be a good place to start and then as the comfort level grows, add on extra days or duties.

    Your post didn't seem to indicate that you have actually had a direct conversation with your wife about your concerns. Suggesting activities like yoga, whist very understanding on your part, does not help your wife understand that you actually have some serious concerns. Talking about these is probably a very good place to start. It may also be a good idea to remind your wife that children mimic the behaviour of their parents and in order for your children to have the most successful start, as parents you should agree on behaviour that is and isn't appropriate??

    Hope you both work through it and see some positive changes soon!

  8. #8
    StrawberryPie is offline Registered User
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    Nov 2013

    First, I have to say that you sound like a wonderful father.
    Secondly, I think the priority is your children. You mention that your son is so scared that he throws up because of the screaming. That is not good and is harmful for your children to live in fear of their mother.

    How old is your wife ? Could it be that she is having early menopause?
    Does she have outside pressure from friends and family to live up their ideals ?

    There is no quick fix solution but you need to sit down with her and explain to her that her behaviour is harming her children, and she needs to seek help.

    Help comes in many forms.
    1) Get someone part time to come and clean the house (see labour department for part time legal workers)
    2) Get someone to come and help prepare your evening meal to take the pressure of you.
    3) She needs to speak to someone for help. If she is English speaking, may be try Yvonne Heavyside from the Family zone and seek help on how to organize the daily routine.

    I, too, had a nightmare first helper. My second helper was much better and I sent her to many first aid courses etc. and organized schedule for her.

    I think you need to insist on having part time help. Maybe 5 hours a day, even if your wife objects. She is not emotionally stable to be making decisions when she is screaming so much.

    I am concerned about your children because her stress will increase their cortisol levels and be harmful for them.

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