When this mom is extremely concerned about her husband's parenting to their two daughters, she asks Reddit:
My [36F] husband, Dennis [39M], and I have been together for 9 years, married for 4. When we met we were both looking to settle down and have kids so it felt like fate that we met.
We started talking seriously about having kids around 1.5 years in, and started trying at 2 years. After three years of trying and heartache, we decided to adopt. Following a long and hard journey, we were finally able to welcome home our beautiful daughter, Sophie!
My husband was a wonderful father to Sophie, he loved holding her and being with her. He would rush to her side when he heard her cries. I couldn’t have wished for a better partner and father for my children. Just after everything settled down with Sophie, we got pregnant.
Both Dennis and I were elated to hear we would be having another child, and ecstatic when we found we were having another little baby girl, so close in age to her sister!
But I started getting worried when I heard some of Dennis’ comments as I started to show more and we got closer to birth. He once even said “I can’t believe we’re finally having our own baby”. I questioned what he meant by this as we have Sophie already, but he brushed it off saying I knew what he meant but didn’t say it again to me.
When I gave birth, Sophie was 11 months old and had been saying “am am am” whenever she stroked my belly, so we decided to call our daughter Amy. When we brought Amy home is when Dennis’ behaviour really started to slip and lack towards Sophie.
He stopped giving her attention, documenting or even caring about her milestones. He started actively trying to avoid interactions with Sophie, eg if I asked him to tend to Sophie if she were making a fuss, he would go to the cot and say that he can’t as he is tending to Amy.
Sophie is clearly being impacted by the sudden loss of her father so once the kids were in bed tonight I asked him what is going on with him. He told me that since Amy was born, his love for Sophie has “died” (he then retracted, and reworded, saying “dimmed” instead).
I was horrified, I told him I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He tried to calm me down by saying that perhaps we could “split” them, he’ll take Amy and I take Sophie. It almost felt like he was making a really shitty joke.
I called him a terrible person and told him he didn’t deserve to be a father. I told him that I feel betrayed and repulsed by him for using one child as a trial for the next. He left the house and hasn’t come home since. It’s snowy here and it’s getting on for 2am and I’m getting worried. AITA?
NTA. I don’t throw around the “you should divorce this guy” line flippantly but man, in this case…you should divorce this guy. Don’t force Sophie to grow up thinking THIS is what a Father’s love looks like. Don’t do that to her, OP.
This sounds disturbingly like the love-bombing present in narcissistic relationships. He has effectively replaced/ abandoned Sophie for the newer, younger child.
The baby fulfills some internal desire that he might not be able to articulate to you. But since he clearly prefers this kind of relationship to Sophie, he’s going to continue to seek it out. This can happen in any narcissistic relationship, including parental, fraternal, romantic or platonic.
I predict (from experience, now) that he’s going to continue to distance himself from your older daughter.
Let’s be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR: neither of your daughters needs a father figure who is only invested in one of them. It will only cause enmity and resentment between the sisters later, and may stunt both of their emotional growth.
If he refuses therapy, then you need to prepare for the worst. Let him continue to neglect your older daughter in favor of the baby… or leave.
People often forget that men can also have postpartum depression and other issues - 10% of men will have postpartum depression. It isn't as well acknowledged because for women you can track hormones as a reason, but a new baby is a huge change, and it has an effect on both parents.
Not saying that's what happened with OP's husband since it appears to have started while she was still pregnant, but people ignore the effects of new children on fathers as well.
It's a balance though, I still think they should be separated for the emotional well-being of their daughters until OP's husband gets his shit together. And that they take him being a parent slowly so that if he learns any abuse tactics in therapy, he does not have a chance to use them on his daughters.