My husband is a great dad. He is a good provider and plays an active role in parenting decisions. Something I’ve noticed though is that the only time he will play with our children is if it’s rough-housing. He will sometimes play a game if I start it, but you can forget any imaginative play! Also, he has a tendency to take rough housing too far– it always ends in tears. If I ask him to stop he gets defensive. I am truly grateful that he wants to interact with our kids- but how do I make him see other ways to do it? I fear that since the only quality time our kids have with dad is spent rough-housing (which usually ends badly) their relationship may suffer in the long run.
Break out the soccer ball and tell the kids to ask dad to play with them, even very young kids can enjoy soccer. Suggest building with legos or Lincoln logs or something like that. You have to think kind of like a guy. A dad will rarely be caught playing dolls with his daughter or making choo choo noises. Maybe get a remote control car or two and have your husband teach the kids how to drive it and hold rc races. My husband is a lot the same way, but he has gotten better about really playing with our five year old daughter since we had a discussion about how she only sees him as a toy to jump on and how she wasn’t getting enough out of their relationship. He would get mad because she would only want to jump around and rough house with him and he was tired after working all day. I then explained that if he did something else with her then she would understand that dad can be fun in other ways too. He grumbles about playing chicky boom and princess memory sometimes but he’s a pretty good sport about it.
My dad never spent much time with me other than to rough house but he is still a great dad and it got taken too far because he was a lot stronger than me at the time. Just tell him to try and be a bit more gentle or encourage sports on him. Most guys don’t really enjoy imagination games but I’m sure if you got him out side to teach the kids how to play ball he’d love doing that.
":She has bruises and abrasions on her neck, collarbone and arms from where he had grabbed her way to hard.": Those are not caused by being grabbed too hard. Bruises and abrasions on a large area mean she was hit or had injuries greater than being ":grabbed":. The fact he was applying ice to her head as well but it ":was an accident":… I don’t buy that for a minute. She is a toddler. This is unacceptable, he could have killed her. You should be taking her to get medically check out, and file a police report to document this. Because it will happen again. You need to get him away from your children ASAP. He is not safe around these kids. If after he leaves he wants to get help, great. But he should be out of the home immediately. He beat your toddler. There is no grey area there. The child was abused. You cannot continue to live with him as is. He should be encouraged to get help, and hopefully once he gets it he can be safe around his family. But he needs to not be there until after he has gotten help and the behaviors have changed. Do not stay with him while he does it. Your daughter might need more than ice next time.
My dad used to rough around with me a lot when I was 5-11 years old. I guess he sort of stopped when I accidentally broke his nose around 12 when he scared me once. Just tell him he can rough house with the kids, but a lot more gently. If things get worse, then you could talk to a therapist or something…