December 01, 2008,
C.M. asks from Princeton, MA on November 25, 2008
Five Year Old Saying Mean Things to Daddy
My five-year-old daughter has been saying mean things to her Daddy for a few weeks now. We were sitting at supper and she looked over at him while leaning into me and said, "Mommy, I don't like Daddy." She has said it a few times since and last night while I was at school she told him that she didn't want him in her family any more. He can usually let things slide but it's starting to get to him. They have a great relationship and usually he is the more lenient one and more fun one. She seems to be going through a Mommy kick at the moment. If there is one thing he is, it's an incredible father. Any advice, suggestions, related stories are very welcome.
C.R. answers from Boston on November 26, 2008
I wouldn't really worry. Children go through soooo many different phases, and through each phase, they want a different parent by their side.
I recall this happening with one of my children. My husband and I were curious where the comments were coming from. It took us a little while to figure it out, but we ended up figuring out that one night, when my husband was playing with the kids, one of the kids made a comment like that. My husband made a joke out of it, and turned it into a tickle torture. My son who later made the comments, was just looking for the fun tickle torture that was associated with the comments earlier.
Maybe your husband can make a joke out of it in this way. When she says something negative like that, turn it into a fun time, to make it a more positive thing. Children at that age don't understand how hurtful these comments can be.
D.F. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
Usually five year old just adore daddy, I think since you have asked for advice you wont take things to personally when I ask you to find out why she would be saying this to her daddy. Please ask her why and make sure nothing inappropriate is going on. Find out how to ask such questions so not to scare her. I hope I am dead wrong and its just a phase. Good luck!
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C.K. answers from Boston on November 26, 2008
I agree with Daisey and Heidi. I don't want to jump to conclusions & say anything bad (inappropriate) is going on but you want to be safe than sorry! I also don't want you to be offended but better safe than sorry. Most kids will make comments like that when something is going on. However, kids usually do go through phases where they like one parent more than the other! She may turn around one day love daddy and be mean to you in the same way. So investigate well and then when you find out it is nothing (hopefully it is nothing) try not to let it bother you or your hubby. It would break my heart too if one of my kids was saying things like that to me or their daddy.
A.C. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
I went through this with my son. I finally told him that it upset me when he said mean things/didn't want to be with Daddy (he would often throw a fit when it was "daddy's night" to put him to bed). Basically I let him know that we are a family and treat each other with love and respect and it is not ok to do/say things that hurt daddy's feelings, etc.. I also tried to explore why he had such feelings and it seemed to come out that he was basically just craving more time with me and he felt a little bit in competition with daddy. I also work full time and have another child and I didn't realize how much my son (now almost 7 and still needs his Mama cuddle time at bed) needed more of my affection. His dad is very affectionate, but for some reason he doesn't see my husband in the same nurturing/cuddling role that he does me. It sounds like your life is very busy with work, school and an ailing parent. It could be that your daughter is just acting out a bit. Perhaps she is jealous/feels competition with the attention you show your husband (that was definitely part of it with my son). She may just need more Mama cuddle time and reassurance that you have plenty of love to give both her and her daddy - plus a reminder that its not ok to hurt daddy's feelings. Try to prod her a bit about what more she feels she needs from you (reassurance, more attention, affection, etc.) - maybe you'll get to the root of it.
H.S. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
I think you need to explore why she is saying these things. What is it that she doesn't like about him.... could be the smell of his aftershave or that he is stricter to her than you are. She is old enough, that she will be able to come up with something, if you work with her.
And, I am not saying this lightly, you need to find out if he has been inappropriate with her. Maybe he is asking her to keep a secret - this can tear a kid up.
On the other hand, she may just explore what power it can give her. In that case, I would just firmly say that he is here to stay.
And last but not least.... maybe there is a seperation going on in one of her friend's families, and all she needs is assurance that he won't go, even with her saying mean things.
Good luck - hope it only will be one of "these" phases.
D.K. answers from Boston on November 26, 2008
I said that once about my dad when I was about the same age. My mom's immediate reaction was so shocked & hurt & angry, that I never said it again. She also impressed upon me how hurt he would be if he ever heard me say it. I still remember the incident very vividly.
My dad was the opposite of your husband though - my mom was the lenient & fun one!
I would just talk to her about it - try to find out what's making her feel that way, and talk to her about how hurtful it is to say those things. Good luck!
C.P. answers from Boston on December 01, 2008
I just want to say that I really disagree with the below comment that you should turn it into something fun, like tickling. Your daughter should not be rewarded for saying something so hurtful. My daughter said similar things to me when she was about 4 and I eventually responded by crying so she could see the effect of her words. She hasn't said them since. It was a little manipulative, but I just wanted her to see what I was feeling inside. Good luck.
E.R. answers from Boston on November 25, 2008
Heidi had some good places to start. One thought I had, did you and your husband have an argument about something that you thought she didn't hear but maybe she did? Like you thought she was asleep or far enough away, but she wasn't. Kids pick up on all kinds of stuff. Is it possible that is bothering her? Can you find a time to talk to her alone to see what this is about? Or maybe your husband can talk to her. He'll have to work hard to not take it personally and focus on what's going on that's making her feel that way.