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DD says "I want another Mummy" - how best to respond?

(13 Posts)
Earlybird Sun 21-Aug-05 16:55:24

DD has taken to saying this recently. I try not to over-react, and usually say to her "why do you feel that way". Her answer is often along the lines of "because they'll buy me more toys". Comical, but of course, I wonder if there's something deeper to it...and the self doubt sets in.

Other times she will say something like "I wish X was my mummy, and not you" - X is her babysitter. I can think it through logically, and know that she might say she prefers X, because X is completely dedicated to serving dd's every need/whim. When X isn't around, dd must wait, sometimes entertain herself, and/or fit in. She even sometimes says "call X to come over today because I'd rather have her than you. You can do work".

Finally, I am a single mum. For the last week or so, dd has started saying "I wish I had a Daddy". I usually respond by saying "It would be nice to have a Daddy, but that's not how our family is put together". I try to respect her feelings, and know that a lack of a dad could/will be an issue at some point, but I also wonder if she's simply trying to push buttons for a reaction.

This morning, after more of these sorts of comments, I have told her that I love her, but that she isn't being nice to me, and it hurts my feelings. How can I handle this? I go from seeing the machinations of a 4 year old's attempts at emotional manipulation, to being filled with self doubt and feeling I'm failing as a mum. Suggestions will help more than you can imagine.

kcemum Sun 21-Aug-05 17:22:47

Earlybird you are not a bad mum, you've explained to your daughter that you love her etc and you give her approppriate answers to her question without skirting around the issues. Your daughter is only doing what comes naturally in her developement, she's discovering that all people are different and have different home settings etc, perhaps you could go to the library to find some resources to help her understand this.

As for her wanting her babysitter in place of you this is understable because she knows that she gets one to one attention, do you go to any groups etc perhaps she would benefit from getting out a bit more?
I usually get " oh it's not fair, why do you have to do jobs , work etc instead of playing with us?" Maybe my children are older but I just tell them how it is, if they don't like it well theres not alot I can do about it.

You sound like you are telling her all the right things, I don't think thats she's trying to manipulate you, she's just seeing things from her point of view.

Distel Sun 21-Aug-05 17:49:59

ds said he wanted a new mummy after I told him off a couple of weeks ago. We had had a really bad day and it made me burst into tears. I felt silly, crying over something like that but it did make him realise that his words can be hurtfull and he has to think about what he is saying. Don't know if this would help your dd as she is younger, but might be worth a try. Hope things get better soon x x x.

meggymoo Sun 21-Aug-05 18:06:31

Message withdrawn

motherinferior Sun 21-Aug-05 18:15:37

I think she's pushing your buttons, sweetie. It's awful, but I honestly think it's no more than that.

(DD1 shouted at me yesterday 'You're breaking my feelings into pieces as small as a mouse and I want them to grow into TIGERS and MONSTERS and GET YOU' - funny, but also quite hard to handle!)

colditz Sun 21-Aug-05 18:17:12

Have you tried saying (in a nice, non sarcastic way, of course) "Well, I wish I could win the lottery, and have a big house in the country with pink ponies, but it isn't going to happen, so let's make the best of what we do have!"

it might make her see that it is very normal to wish for things, but not to get your hopes pinned on them.

I used to tell my mum I wanted Aunty X to be my mum, but what I really wanted but couldn't explain, was for my mum to let me get away with murder like Aunty X did!

WigWamBam Sun 21-Aug-05 18:21:24

4 year olds are great at pushing buttons. I know it's hard, but when she tells you she wants a different mummy, a good trick to try is to say, very calmly and without even batting an eyelid, "Oh, that's a shame, because I like having you for my daughter", then walk away and do something really boring like the washing up to show that it's really no big deal. My dd is 4 and went through a couple of weeks where she would tell me she didn't love me, but because I didn't react, she doesn't say it anymore.

If it's any consolation, most 4 year olds go through phases where they say things like this - she's practicing emotions, and you're the nearest person for her to practice on.

Earlybird Sun 21-Aug-05 19:10:49

Thanks so much to all for your thoughtful responses. DD is quite bossy at the moment, and wants to dictate what happens - even how games are played. So, when she meets resistance (usually in the form of me!) or, when things are "out of her control" perhaps she longs for someone easier to manipulate....like her babysitter.

I think because I am a single parent, there is no one else close to hand who sees what happens between dd and me day to day. A spouse/partner could reassure me that I'm on the right track, or could gently say "I think you need to handle it differently". When the only feedback I get is from dd, I think it's natural to take the things she says to heart.

Logically, I know she's only 4, but emotionally the comments hurt without the balancing perspective of another adult. That's one of the reasons I value the wisdom of mumsnet so much....so thanks for your feedback/suggestions.

soapbox Sun 21-Aug-05 20:25:49

I'm horrible! I always answer 'well tough luck no-one else will have you so you're stuck with me'

Usually accompanied by a big monster act which jollies them out of their bad mood.

Its just done for effect - don't let it wind you up!

KiwiKate Mon 22-Aug-05 04:01:51

I'd make a habit of telling her how special she is and how glad you are to have her for your daughter (not only in reaction to when she says hurtful things, but, say, at bedtime just before she goes to sleep). Maybe she is pushing buttons. Maybe she is feeling insecure because of having no dad. Sounds like you've done all the right things. Try not to let her see that it is a bit deal (but fair enough to tell her that it hurts your feelings).

You are doing a great job. Remember that there are things that she can't possibly understand, and that you are a loving, caring parent (or wouldn't be so upset/bother posting about it).

Earlybird Mon 22-Aug-05 05:02:08

Soapbox, you make me laugh! I do wish I was better at simply shrugging it off, and making light of it all. Those thoughtless 4 year old comments cut me to the quick, and I imagine dd senses that at some basic level. Will work harder to take things in my stride, and keep the sense of humour functioning.

Kiwikate - I constantly tell her how glad I am that she's my dd, that the angels sent me the best child for me, etc. She knows she is loved. I think she is curious about what a father does, and is trying to work it out in her mind. She often fixates on what she hasn't got - kind of like she regularly talks about the toy kitchen she wants. Obviously, the lack of a dad is much more profound and requires a very different type of response from me.

We had a long chat after this morning's episode. I told her that she is my dd, and that I love her no matter how she behaves, but that her comments make me sad. I told her that I wish we had a daddy in our family too, but that I hadn't met the right person. I explained that some men make good daddies, and some men are not good daddies. I want her to have a good daddy (and me have a good partner), and I hope that maybe someday I'll meet someone who would be good for our family.

I told her that we need to be kind to one another - that it's OK to feel upset or angry, but we should try not to be unkind. We ended with a long cuddle, and she's spent the rest of the day coming up to me at random moments saying that she loves me, wants only me for her mummy, and promises not to say those things again.

I know she's only 4, so that will be an impossible promise to keep. But, perhaps she is starting to learn the power of words. And before anyone wonders if this dilemma is keeping me up all night...I'm in America for the next 10 days, so it's not as late here!

KiwiKate Mon 22-Aug-05 07:00:24

well done eb
sounds like u r doing a great job
she is really lucky to have you

bobbybob Mon 22-Aug-05 07:37:39

I love what you are saying in response to "I wish I had a daddy."

Maybe a trip to the library and lots of those books about different types of family, then she can wish all she likes...

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