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Emotional cruelty from my 4yrs old son....

(41 Posts)
StayHappyMum Tue 09-Aug-11 21:57:50

My 4 yrs son has just told me that he doesn't like me reading bedtime stories to him and only want his daddy to read stories. I work term time and have been enjoying the summer holidays with him. The days are busy but fun. Today has been a good day - diving, swimming and an arty afternoon, but he was tired and went to bed a little later than usual. We are currently a host family for foreign language students and currently have 2 Chinese girls staying with us. In the chaos of sorting dinner for them, husband returning from work to leave again for an evening meeting and tidying the dishes etc, bedtime got hectic and I was also pretty tired by then. Usually bedtime is a long established routine of two stories and then a cuddle by which time my son has usually fallen asleep, only tonight he started crying that he wanted Daddy to read the story. I was perhaps too quick to respond that Daddy was out as so his only second choice was me so tough - only he then said very clearly that he "only sometimes" likes me to read stories with him and "always" wants Daddy and that he didn't want a cuddle either. I was very taken aback by this and amazed at how much that stung (and is still stinging) so much so that I searched Google for advice and found you.... I'm aware at how petty this sounds but it was very out of character and when he had fallen asleep, which he did very quickly, I stood by his bedroom door for ages just looking at him and feeling a failure. There are times that I'm sure I raise my voice at him too much but I have the awful feeling that my inadequate parenting chickens are already coming home to roost.... I'm hoping (please) that I'll get lots of replies teling me that this is normal boundary-pushing behaviour and he is looking for a reaction and I should stay calm and rational and ignore it but if I'm heading for a fall, any advice would be very gratefully received.... this is my first posting on anything like mumsnet... thank you!

Notinmykitchen Tue 09-Aug-11 22:02:11

This is totally normal. My 3 year old DS is always saying things like this. We had a few months where I could do no wrong, and he didn't want his Dad, now he has gone the other way and Daddy is the most amazing person in the world, and I am a lot less in demand. The important thing is that he knows that whatever he does or says you both love him unconditionally.

Orchidskeepdying Tue 09-Aug-11 22:02:34

Be aware that he has had you all day - he probably misses his daddy - which lead to the comment. Don't take it to heart
hugs xx

WiiUnfit Tue 09-Aug-11 22:03:36

Hello StayHappy, welcome to MN!

My son is only 9 weeks but from what I can remember from my 2 nephews growing up, this is normal behaviour. 4 year olds 'love' someone / something one day & 'hate' it the next or forget it all together. Whilst I understand why this hurt you, I wouldn't take it too personally - he would probably just as quickly say the opposite to your Husband. As you said, your Son was tired & went to bed later than usual, try not to let this get you down - I'm sure he will be absolutely fine with you in the morning.

azazello Tue 09-Aug-11 22:05:10

YABU. It is not emotional cruelty it is being 4. Don't worry about it, but you really might want to look at other posts in Am I being unreasonable to see how these debates go. I would suggest asking for the thread to be moved to behaviour/ development.

heather1 Tue 09-Aug-11 22:05:13

StayHappyMum, my 4 year old Ds told his Dad tonight that he didnt love him. This was because my husband wanted him to sign my birthday card and he wanted to sign the another card and didnt like the design of the one my husband had chosen. He had a massive tantrum about this. Now of course he was tired and of course he still loves his Dad. My husband and I just thought it was funny. Children are very clever and know what to say to hurt your feelings. They do not understand the emotional impact of thier works but of course there are times when they do want to hurt you. Next time it is story time I would just calmly start to read the story. Dont give the option of who reads it. I also find my 4 year old has a favourite parent depending of the day of the week! Im sure you are a great Mum - the fact that you are do upset shows that you are. Remember you child will love you no matter what!

Animation Tue 09-Aug-11 22:05:15

Yes, completely normal. Don't take it personally.

Scarletbanner Tue 09-Aug-11 22:05:23

Yep, it's normal. Or it is in my house. Some nights only daddy will do, and other nights, she cries for mummy. And the parent who isn't there is always the one she wants.

rhondajean Tue 09-Aug-11 22:05:30

Aww bless - he is over tired and missing his daddy. Tomorrow it will all be different.

It gets worse as they get older too - they dont realise they trample on our hearts with their words, but they do always always love us.

rhetorician Tue 09-Aug-11 22:06:45

is his dad not at home at bedtime? or is he usually? just sounds like he is missing his dad to me, and wants some attention from him - not surprising given that he has your attention all day long at the moment. They quite often favour one parent over the other for a while and really it's normal - he's not pushing boundaries and is not capable of 'emotional cruelty' FGS. You need to rein in your feelings a bit and see things from his point of view.

My daughter is 2.6 and frequently tells one or other to go away etc. Really, just say to him, 'well I'm sorry daddy isn't here tonight, but I am sure he will read you a story tomorrow because he loves you very much'. He's looking for reassurance, it seems to me and you - if I might say so politely - are over-reacting.

Gastonladybird Tue 09-Aug-11 22:07:55

Yes normal -if hurtful. Dd does this including one classic occasion when listed her favourite things and I came about 6th (after her toy cats and dad bur before Roy frog).

Itsjustafleshwound Tue 09-Aug-11 22:08:34

Completely normal - it isn't said with the intention of hurting you, but it does.

CurrySpice Tue 09-Aug-11 22:10:14

Blimey - emotional cruelty? You think that's what it is?!

There is a word of difference between a comment like this, made innocently, by a 4yo and emotional cruelty!

I know it's your first post and all that but really!!


rockinhippy Tue 09-Aug-11 22:12:43

He's pushing your buttons because he CAN, because he feels so totally comfortable & secure in your love that he doesn't fear losing you, so can have a little dig at you when he's feeling tired & cranky & a bit annoyed you didn't jump through hoops quite as much as he'd of liked -

ie he wants the story, cuddle etc & KNOWS it will sting you to say he doesn't - he doesn't mean it, if any thing it actually means he wants more attention, not less

all perfectly normal & it won't be the last time - trust me mines 8 & shes a master at the cutting remark - sounds like you are a great Mum, doing a great job, so relax & don't take it to heart smile

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 09-Aug-11 22:13:14

This is totally normal. Particularly at bedtime when the child is tired and their routine has been disrupted. It certainly isn't emotional cruelty, it isn't even boundary pushing.

Cloudbase Tue 09-Aug-11 22:15:31

Don't worry. Your son loves you and needs you. But children are notoriously mercurial in their moods and emotions. My daughter, who is the same age, is going through the same phase and has days when she won't let me hug her or cuddle her, then another day she changes her mind. Of course it stings, because he is your world, but never ever forget, that whatever he does or says, you are the centre of his!

The most important thing is to carry calmly on, loving and looking after him as normal. It's all fine, promise!

TillyIpswitch Tue 09-Aug-11 22:15:53

Yep, totally normal and not emotional cruelty - he is 4 and learning his way in the world. Everything they feel, they feel int the utmost passion - until they move onto the next thing!

And just to add - that anyone who worries about being an inadequate parent is most definitely not an inadequate parent. grin You'd want to see an actual inadequate parent before you worry about yourself! Of course there are days when we can't - or just aren't up to - doing our best and none of us are perfect. But to even be worrying about what sort of a job you're doing in raising your children means you're a great parent.

Ineedacleaneriamalazyslattern Tue 09-Aug-11 22:16:45

Totally normal, I get told regularly that I am rubbish when ds1 isn;t getting his own way and he is a little boy that could only be described as a mummy's boy.
The other evening when he was having a tantrum about something he yelled at dh that he had rubbish feet, I couldn't help but fall about laughing TBH and now I regularly tell dh he has rubbish feet.

A 4 year old isn't capable of emotional cruelty honestly, your son was missing his daddy as he had been with you all day and just said it with no real intent to hurt he was just feeling hurt because he wanted his dad at that time.

It does hurt though but honestly when you realise there is no malice in it, it will eventually wash over you.

TheNoodlesIncident Tue 09-Aug-11 22:19:35

He sounds tired and cranky to be honest, rather than having a deliberate dig at you. Like perhaps if his dad had been there, he would have wanted you (like typical nothing-satisfies-me-right-now toddler behaviour).

DC do occasionally have parental preference, but it's liable to switch from one parent to the other, depending on the mood the child is in.

Either way, I think you're probably reading too much into it. I would just ignore it and I bet you'll see he's nicer on a night when he's not as worn out (from what sounds like a fantastic day!)

Gay40 Tue 09-Aug-11 22:20:23

Totally normal. DD (9) has fits and phases of preferring one of us over the others. After a recent holiday we were on, just DD and I, upon return she hardly had a word for DP for a few days. Then other days she says it is better when I'm not there lol.

WhiteTrash Tue 09-Aug-11 22:20:52

Normal. My son the same age has done exactly the same thing. I tried a mock "oh poor mummy!" thing but it fell on deaf ears.

StayHappyMum Tue 09-Aug-11 22:20:54

Hi there, Wow, I'm amazed at how many replies I've received so far... As quite a few of you have commented, perhaps I didn't choose the best title for my posting. Obviously, I know it is not really emotional cruelty, I was trying to be tongue-in-cheek about this to make light of something that was bothering me and not to be disrespectful of any parent (or non-parent) who might have experienced this for real.... thanks for all your advice and support, I'm feeling better already.... thank you for taking the time to help.

ouryve Tue 09-Aug-11 22:23:12

He's 4. It's not cruelty; he's being honest about his preferences. In his case, he wants some daddy time.

HerBeX Tue 09-Aug-11 22:23:52

LOL at emotional cruelty, that is a bit OTT.

It's not emotional cruelty, that requires a degree of consciousness not possessed by a 4 year old.

It's just that he's pissed off and feels safe and secure enough in your love and emotional strength, to express even negative feelings to you and know that his world isn't going to cave in when he does. That means that far from being inadequate, you are doing something incredibly right - well done and stop worrying. And welcome to Mumsnet. smile

Morloth Tue 09-Aug-11 22:24:50

He is 4, there isn't really anything else to say.

How odd.

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