She's still *looks* like my dd, but....

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-08-2005
She's still *looks* like my dd, but....
Wed, 11-30-2005 - 12:16am

*New to the board*

I am a single mom of a 6 1/2 yo. I have been divorced for 5 years. DD and I have always been very close and we make a nice little family...which may be contributing to our current problems. She has always been a very sweet, polite and intelligent girl. For the first 3+ yrs of her life we lived with my parents and grandpa was daycare. He was also their small town's mayor and would tote her around with him on his "city" business. It's a bedroom community with a pretty high senior citizen population so she became very popular! In fact, I can't think of *anyone* who has met her and not loved or at least liked her a whole lot. I'm really not trying to brag...just painting a picture, if you will. LOL

Anyway, in Aug.04 my company transferred me out of state and we came to live with a friend of mine and her two children (1/2 time, other 1/2 with dad). Well, for reasons far too long and complicated to go into here, this short term living arrangement became permanent. It has been a struggle living with other people especially since roomie's kids (8yo girl, 6yo boy) are quite hard to tolerate sometimes. They are whiny and ill mannered and I have definitley seen some of it rub off on dd.

Ugh, I'll try and pick up the pace and shorten this thing!

I would say that in some ways I'm a strict mom and in others very loose. I try to strike a balance which has been very easy to do because, as I said, she's always been such a good girl but times are a changin'!

Some of her new behaviors: arguing, making me repeat myself over and over before something gets done, whiny, LOTS of visits to the nurses office this year, lots of complaints of illness, very negative about herself, playing "the victim" (ie, *everyone* made me feel bad today...), helplessness (tell her to get in pj's and get the response "but I don't know what to weeeaaarrrrrr". meanwhile there's a full 'pj' drawer right there!), you get the idea.

Is this age a normal boundary testing age? Could it really be mostly the enviornment we're living in? Am I not asking the right questions to find out what's happened to my sweet little peanut?

I'm trying hard to be understanding and empathetic to her yet feel as though I may be creating a bigger monster, however, I don't want to be cruel, either. I'm great with the stern voice and "the look" which has always worked but now I'm struggling to come up with real punishments. Outside of yelling. That's not a punishment, it's just yucky.

As I said at the beginning, she and I are very close and I have always treated her as my partner (like a teammate) when going thru life. She understands when mommy struggles financially that she needs to be patient about getting "extras" until things settle down and that I need us to be a team to get thru, ect.

Maybe I have not set enough parent/child boundaries?

I could go on and on....your turn, if you'd be so inclined. :-) I welcome any ideas on the "why's" as well as the "what to do about it"s.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2003
Thu, 12-01-2005 - 12:09am

Hi there. It sounds like you and your daughter have been through quite a bit together. I think you're right about the boundary issues. It's certainly normal for her to be testing boundaries (in my experience, kids go through stages of this pretty regularly), but it also sounds like there really aren't very many for her. Firm, clear boundaries make kids feel safe and secure. Your sharing so much with her may be doing the opposite. Being "partners" or "teammates" may give comfort to you, but what is the benefit to your daughter? She's *not* your equal, not your teammate. Knowing too much about adult problems and responsibilities can be pretty scary for a little kid, since they can't actually do much about them. And please know that I don't mean to offend...I have no idea how much you share, but you seem to think it might be too much, so I'm agreeing. The frequent medical complaints and victim complex do seem to suggest that kind of general anxiety as well.

Anyway, the clearest possible boundaries--expectations and consequences--will probably help her behave better *and* feel ultimately more secure and happy. I find not responding to whining helps cut that down: an even-toned "I don't respond to that tone of voice. Would you like to say that again?" and then ignoring. With the pajama request, you could simply say, "I'm sure you'll find something in your drawer" and ignore the show. And/or, to deal with ignored requests, you can state them firmly with a clear consequence for not following through, e.g. "Go get ready for bed. If you aren't ready in five minutes, there won't be stories/tv tomorrow/whatever privilege." Use a timer or look at the clock together, so it's a REAL boundary. Talk to her at a calm time about what kinds of things are really off-limits (be very specific about exactly which of the various levels of disrespect, like eye-rolling, dramatic sighs, etc. are not OK), and what will happen if she does them.

Whew, that got longer than I intended! Best of luck to you both. You sound really intelligent and caring, so I'm sure you'll both be OK.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-08-2005
Sat, 12-03-2005 - 1:46pm


I am certainly not offended by your thoughtful response. Sometimes we just need the cold, hard truth presented to us. You brought up a great point in that my openness, while a comfort to me, is scary for her. I guess I forgot that she's not observing these issues thru an adult lens. A very big thing to overlook and I'm a little emabarrassed that I did. I do try to be more insighful about all aspects of life but that one escaped me. Thanks for making that point.

We had a conversation the other morning on the way to work/school (we have a 30-40 min commute together) about what's been going on between us and how can we improve things. I told her that I'm concerned that she feels unable to accomplish tasks whether big or small because she's not given enough opportunites to be responsible and feel good about her accomplishments and so when she is faced with them, they're scary. We're going to put together a responsibilty chart for her this weekend and she seems very excited about it. I have been more proactive in at least verbalizing what her responsibilites are (ie, putting clothes in hamper, getting backpack ready and at the door before bed, etc) and she has responded very quickly to it as she has any other time I've actually put on that particular Mom hat.

Again, I really appreciate your insight and suggestions to the situation. They were very helpful. And I'm sorry about that delay in replying!