Problem Child

sad girlDear Mother Hen,

My five-year-old is driving me crazy! Her father says that he wants full custody, and I am seriously considering it. Let him and his skinny little girlfriend deal with her if they can!

I told her on  Monday that she has until Friday to shape up or they can just keep her. Since then she hasn’t exactly been an angel, but she has cooperated some. This morning she brought me her dirty clothes, separated them, and put them in the washer without complaining – for once! She didn’t fold them right though.

She was supposed to dust the living room after lunch, but I found her playing with the cat instead, so she got a time out for goofing off. Next time I turned around she was gone out the door, and she hadn’t even done her whole time out! I had to haul her back from the neighbor’s in front of everyone. She got a spank on the bum for that one, you bet!

Since then she picked up her room okay, I guess, and didn’t make too much of a stink over her bath time. I almost fell over when she volunteered to go to bed early! Like that ever happens!

Thank goodness she goes to kindergarten every other day, or I swear I wouldn’t make it through the week. Watching her all the time is wearing me out! It is only Wednesday and I can’t wait for the weekend.

No man is ever going to look twice at me as long as I have a bratty little kid. Should I just let her dad have her and get on with my life?

Fed-Up Mom


Dear Fed-Up Mom,

Raising children takes a lot of energy and time. It is huge commitment, and a 24/7 responsibility. Putting the needs of your child first requires major sacrifice as a parent, and I sincerely question whether you are you are prepared to put your own preferences aside to focus on your daughter full-time.

I am very concerned about your statement, “…she has until Friday to shape up.”

Children need to know that they are loved unconditionally, not only if they do the right thing or have a good day, but when they make mistakes and have bad days. I am willing to bet that well before Friday, she is going to test you to see if you truly care for her or if you will disown her when she misbehaves. I think that you have already answered that question, and unfortunately, the answer is that she had better stay in line or else she is gone. That is not good enough.

Ask yourself, “Am I prepared to provide a secure, consistent and loving home on a daily basis, or would I be a better part-time mom, with time to prepare myself for her visits, and time to myself in between? If I were only required to supervise her some of the time, would I have more patience, and maybe even some fun, with my daughter?”

When children get positive attention, they don’t feel the same need to act out to get negative attention. Try playing with your little girl, so that your time together isn’t always so stressful. Blowing bubbles or going to the playground at the park together, for example, would be enjoyable and relaxing for both of you.

Catch her doing something well or trying hard, and then praise her like crazy. Give a hug or a high-five too! You will be surprised at how much of a difference little things like that can make in your relationship.

If your daughter’s father and his girlfriend are reasonable people who treat her well, and who truly want her in their home, then it may be best if they have primary custody of your little girl. It is important that she not see going to her dad’s place as a punishment though, so stop using that as a threat for bad behavior. Instead, tell her that Daddy wants to spend more time with her, and reassure her that you still want to be part of her life and will see her often. Make sure that you keep that promise, too, because someday when she has children of her own you will be so happy that you did!

Mother Hen


2 responses to this post.

  1. I hope Mom is at least showing appreciation for the simple things that her daughter does accomplish. She is ONLY 5 years old; she’s not a teenager or young adult. Her attention span is so short; she can’t be expected to do tasks that require more than a minute. It sounds like when she can, the little girl is trying hard to please her Mom. And to some children (and adults), negative attention is better than no attention.

    I would suggest that Mom get some therapy help for her anger – I suspect against her ex husband. No child should live the way that little girl lives. And what if the spanking on the bum turns into something more harsh.

    I would agree that if Mom feels that her daughter would be safe and loved w/her father, that maybe she should let her go. I had to do that when my son was 12. Not because of anything bad between him and me. But being a boy, and me being away working so much to make ends meet, he just wanted to be w/his dad and have a family situation with his father and his wonderful step mom. Today, my son and I have a great relationship. And I think partly because I let him go and enjoyed him during our visits.


    • Dear Margi,
      Thank you for sharing from your heart!
      There is nothing like hearing from someone who has been there.
      How difficult it must have been for you to let your son go! Fortunately, he understands that you loved him enough to make that sacrifice. You must have communicated your caring and commitment well, in both your words and actions, for him to have such a positive relationship with you.
      I believe that a child who not only is loved, but knows that he is loved, will accept his parents for being less than perfect human beings. We all have limitations, troubles, and make mistakes along the way, but by showing affection, acceptance, encouragement, and interest, we can make sure that our children know that we love them.


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