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Struggling with daughter

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LifeDestroyer posted 11/25/2019 18:23 PM

I've debated writing this post because of the fear of judgement, but I need help.

I'm really struggling with our daughter. One minute she can be the sweetest child, and the next she is completely disrespectful towards me. She is the same way towards my dad, but not to BH. I know it's our fault, because my dad and I spoil her. Now when I try to discipline her, that is when her rudeness comes out. She will tell me that I have ruined her day and life. That's said every single day. She said it one time to BH which upset him. He felt that she didn't like being with him. I told him that she says that to me each day. I don't know if she has said it to him since. She will then say to me "I'm going to tell Daddy (on you)" or "I want to be with Daddy" or "I don't like it here."

I have been honest with her and have told her that when she acts like that it really hurts me. She will then reply with "Well it hurts me when you tell me that I can't do (insert whatever). Don't say hurtful things to me and I won't say them to you." Yup, my 5 year old has actually said that to me. I'm left dumbfounded.

Taking things away doesn't do anything that just makes her behavior worse. Her behavior has definitely gotten worse through all of this. When I was home, if he heard her speaking to me like she does, then he would quickly put a stop to it. She listens to him. Now, I feel like I am on my own and I'm drowning.

thatbpguy posted 11/25/2019 18:53 PM

I realize she is a child, but things are what they are. Disrespect to a parent shall not be tolerated. She can express herself,. but there's a line she cannot cross over. When she does, you need to do something about it.

Depending on her age, you may want to make a few visits to a counselor for her as well.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/25/2019 18:54 PM

She talks to the school counselor when she needs to.

Flawed posted 11/25/2019 19:31 PM

LD - Iím sorry to hear your daughter is having a hard time with the transition. Iím no expert, but something Iíve learned through various podcasts is that often kids act out when they have feelings they need to process but donít know how. They push the limits and when you push back, you give them a gift to express whatever pent up feelings theyíve stored up inside. Be strong and stay firm on boundaries and let her have her feelings about it. Validate her. Tell her itís ok to be disappointed she isnít getting her way but itís not okay to be disrespectful to you. Hold that line with compassion and I bet she will eventually throw a humongous fit because she probably has a lot of anger and sadness thatís trapped and needs to find a way out. Show her that you can handle whatever she brings to you. If and when she completely falls apart, just be there with figurative and literal open arms and just let her work through it. Give her the space to talk about how hard it is to have two homes, that itís ok to miss you and her dad being together, and whatever else she might be feeling. Iím sure youíre doing the very best that you can in this incredibly difficult situation. Hang in there. My heart goes out to you and your family.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/25/2019 20:01 PM

She just got done doing a video chat with him, and I feel bad. She only likes doing it so she can use all of the funny face filters. She just plays with them instead of actually talking to him. He asked me to go to a different room when they talk so she can pay attention to their call. I do, but then she still doesn't pay attention. I come in to tell her to talk to him, but she just keeps using the filters. I feel bad because all he wants to do is talk to his daughter and she just wants to play with the faces.

hikingout posted 11/25/2019 20:18 PM

Agree with the others. Kids actually want boundaries and feel loved when you give them boundaries. Allowing her to talk to you in a disrespectful way at cannot be tolerated at all. Notivlce she still adores her dad but he disciplines her. Set things up the right way, now is your chance. Come up with short age appropriate punishments.

IHatePickingName posted 11/25/2019 20:19 PM

I am sorry you are both struggling. If you can find a place that does collaborative problem solving for child or family therapy, i highly recommend it. We did it with my 7 year old daughter (unrelated to infidelity, although ironically just after dday, due to an almost year long wait list) and it was amazing for her and for our family. If not, maybe read up on it?

The basic premise is that children do well of they can, and it looks at identifying strengths, supports and barriers for both the child and the family(ies), and then working together to find better methods of handling target goals.

We had an 8 week session and it improved so much. For us, it involved teaching her to recognize black and white thinking and then find the more accurate thought, plus code words to tell her we understood and supported her but couldnt talk until she was calm. We also identified specific ways she could seek calm when upset at home, including spaces to be alone, yoga, and meditation (which she leads, by describing foods we pretend eat on a picnic: looks, flavour, smell, etc.)

I combined that with firm rules about respect for family members. Then we ALL worked on these changes. This was key. She called everyone out on black and white thinking, etc. 🤣🤣🤣 So expect that you will need to model yourself and be a part of the process. None of us is perfect either, and sometimes it is easier to learn techniques noticing other people's mistakes 🤣 . i went with it and acknowledged my own, and soon she was able to recognize it in herself without me pointing it out.

With your daughter, i would deemphasize how her words effect you right now, because she probably needs a safe place to explore her feelings. You can request it be done respectfully, but be careful not to shut it down either. One thing my WS struggles with, and one of his major whys so far is his inability to cope with negative emotions, which is a result of childhood issues. You and i want to do better by our kids than the things that lead down those kinds of paths, and i believe that involves learning how to be upset productively. So engage her in some distracting play and encourage her to discuss how she feels with everything going on. Ask what she knows about it, and what she wonders. Give her kid appropriate answers to her wonders, worries and fears, but its also ok and good for her to know you dont have all the answers and have your own sad feelings, worries, and fears. My kids knew we may be separating and why (as a BS, i took the lead in the messaging there, your BH may prefer the same privilege) and we talked a lot about what that would mean for them and also how it made mommy and daddy sad too. Sometimes their worries have easy fixes, but many dont. Its ok to acknowledge that and to be sad together about it.

So, next time, maybe ask why her life/day is ruined. If she gives some random answer, like you denied her cookies, i would say that she is allowed to be upset about that, but that you deserve to be spoken to with respect. Then follow up with something to encourage her to add more if she needs, like, "i want your life/day not to be ruined. The best way for moms to do that is for kids to tell us if something is bothering them. We cant fix things if we dont know what is wrong. So if something is bothering you, i would like you to tell me. Then we can try to fix it together" and see what happens. Or if she says she doesnt like it there, ask what she doesnt like, and ask what would make her like it more. Some things you cant do, but some may be simple and may bhlp her feel more secure there and with all these changes.

This is long, and i dont know if its helpful, but i am going to stop here. Good luck. Know you arent horrible for having a 5 year old say 5 year old things. But also know you can use this opportunity to teach her skills that will help her later. Good luck, it isnt easy.

sassylee posted 11/25/2019 20:53 PM

Her life has been upended. Sheís struggling with her loss of normal and her lack of control over any of it. Iím a teacher, and I have more than a few kindergarten and grade 1 students acting defiant, even oppositional this year. When I talk to the homeroom teachers (Iím their music teacher) theyíre all going through the uncertainty of divorce. They canít process it and they are too young to understand it. In the classroom, they are grasping at anything that gives them a sense of control.

Your daughter might also be testing you - to see if youíll stay in her life. I find kids either ďsuck upĒ to keep a parent involved or push them away to see if the parent holds their ground.

It would never hurt to seek professional advice for some parenting techniques to help her sort this out and feel some sense of security. A child psychologist would help formulate. a plan with her and with you and your husband. A school counsellor - I find theyíre great when you want a listening ear to support your daughter in her day to day but Iíd recommend more formal therapy to help her transition.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 9:40 PM, November 25th (Monday)]

Justgetitoverwith posted 11/25/2019 21:58 PM

Wrt the filters on video chat - she's only 5 for goodness sake. I doubt very much that she finds extended conversations thrilling at the best of times, let alone via video chat when there are distractions available. I've always had family abroad and had to rely on video chat, and the kids really don't get that interested. Cut her some slack.

IHatePickingName posted 11/25/2019 22:10 PM

I missed the video chat filters. Yeah, my almost 5 year old and 7 year old do the same. I find they are slightly more focussed on audio only calls. Its an age thing. Mine cant maintain an actual conversation for more than a few minutes. I wouldnt worry about it. Its annoying but super typical.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/25/2019 22:14 PM

I know it's a kid thing. I still feel bad about it though. She's with me and not him. I'm going to feel bad that he's missing out on something on my days/nights.

Lostgirl410 posted 11/25/2019 22:51 PM


If you don't mind me asking, can you describe exactly what no contact has looked like for you and your BH to this point?

What do your interactions look like when she's present? When you're speaking to each other about her? Any moments that have struck you (discomfort or even just a strong feeling of significance) in a way that gave you any kind of pause? Positive and negative.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/25/2019 23:04 PM

When he drops her off, he stands at the doorway and won't enter. Words are very limited at those times. It seems like he really tries to limit his eye contact with me.

When I text him about her, unless it's a question, he won't reply. If it is a question, he will reply with a simple "yes" or "ok." It's been two weeks of not living together. The first week, I tried to think of anything to text him about her just to get any type of response. I emailed him twice, he told me to stop, and I stopped. I stopped texting him about little things with her. Unless it's about asking him to bring something of hers that I forgot or a question about pick up, I haven't texted him.

Before her recital, I had gone to the house to get her ready. We had some time and we all sat down in the living room. We spoke for a little bit about the dogs, the exercise class I took, and my new therapist. It was nice that he actually said more than just a few words. We then touched arms during the recital. I know that sounds so stupid and insignificant, but to me it was nice. He may have not even felt my arm there and maybe that's why he didn't move his. I don't know.

The past 16 days have been very limited.

Lostgirl410 posted 11/25/2019 23:24 PM

Have you noticed her trying to push you to interact with each other?

RocketRaccoon posted 11/26/2019 03:45 AM

Have you noticed her trying to push you to interact with each other?

@Lostgirl410, a rather astute observation IMO

[This message edited by RocketRaccoon at 3:45 AM, November 26th (Tuesday)]

Zugzwang posted 11/26/2019 06:06 AM

They say the terrible 2s. Nope our kids were the terrible 5s. Her behavior is normal to me. Dealing with a ton of changes. Being 5, school, parents. Give her something she can have some control over. The way she wants to decorate her room. Picking out her clothes. A goldfish. Make up the rules in the house together. She is finding her voice. A voice influenced by her parents and their behavior with the added bonus of being spoiled as you say. Give her IC to help her and you deal better with sound coping skills that the two of you lack. This can be good insight into your own behaviors that she mimics. The way the two of you interact. If she has viewed spoiled behavior from either of you or entitlement.

DoinBettr posted 11/26/2019 16:37 PM

You sound like you are letting her push you around a bit. She may be observing that BH has been able to do this.
What worked for my wife who didn't like to punish our kids is to negotiate. She would say:
Wife:"Ok, it is time to brush your teeth before bed."
Kid:"I don't want to. I have 15 more minutes of my youtube show."
Wife:"I need you to brush your teeth, so if you do that now, you can have 20 minutes on your tablet in bed. If you don't, you can have 5 minutes now then brush your teeth and to bed. What is it going to be?"
Either way, my wife got what she wanted. The kids would usually resist fulfilling their part, but she would just shrug, take away TV in some way for longer later and punish further stating, "You didn't do your part of the deal. I would have let you have 20 minutes if you just got up and brushed your teeth."
Now the kids know if they ask for more time doing something, they then will bargain. Extra chores are typically offered for getting what they want. If it costs money, we usually state the cost and talk about how they can or won't be able to get the money together unless they have some kind of plan they have to come up with.
It makes the kids responsible while achieving your parenting requirements. They like it because their friends start to wonder why my kids get better treatment but we would have just made a deal to get there. If they break the deal, it stops being offered until they talk to my wife or me about why they broke the deal and apologize.
Just something I saw in a sports coaching video that I applied to my kids once and my wife really adopted.

Lostgirl410 posted 11/26/2019 18:32 PM


I'm trying to decide if you were using your sarcasm font, or just making an observation. Lol. Either way, I was headed somewhere very specific with LD in my line of questioning.

LifeDestroyer posted 11/26/2019 18:41 PM

If we are going somewhere, she will ask if daddy is coming. Then she'll answer herself and say "oh, yes, that's right, you and daddy aren't together." She'll also say how she wishes we were all a family again.

RocketRaccoon posted 11/26/2019 19:48 PM


I'm trying to decide if you were using your sarcasm font, or just making an observation. Lol. Either way, I was headed somewhere very specific with LD in my line of questioning.

Hand-to-heart no sarcasm whatsoever. I do believe that your questioning could be on the right track.

Carry on.....

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