I am a single mother of an only child and have spent my whole life making sure my daughter has everything she could possibly want. Because I raised her alone, I am proud to have been able to give her anything and everything she could possibly need or want.
But lately I’ve been getting a lot of criticism from my friends and family claiming that my little girl (who is now six) is “spoiled,” telling me she’s become “a monster” and that she’s so hard to be. around, they don’t want to spend any more time with her — or with me.
Apparently she “yelled” at my mom the other day for not letting her have another bowl of ice cream – and there have been a few times when she got a little upset because a family member wouldn’t let her watch TV late at night or insisted she play toys with others shared.
I admit I haven’t always been the strictest parent, but I was only focused on her happiness. If a strange toy or a new outfit or a sleepover with her friends helps with that, what’s the big deal?
Please help before I lose all my friends.
Van, single stressed out parent
Dear Jane, I get a lot of criticism from my friends and family who claim that my baby girl (who is now six) is ‘spoiled’ and a ‘monster’
Dear Single Stressed Parent,
You ask what the problem is, when the problem seems very clear: you are raising a little girl who probably won’t find her way around the world easily, may also find it very difficult to keep friends or jobs, and is struggling to cope when the world tells her no.
I understand you’ve tried your best, and goodness knows, we all tend to give our kids all the things we don’t think we have, whether that’s toys, clothes, or permission to do whatever they want. And then we wonder why they turn out to be what your friends and family describe as “a monster.”
Listen stressed I know how hard it is to be a single parent. It can be one of the loneliest and hardest jobs in the world. Parenting is not a pastime or hobby, but rather a privilege and responsibility. The hardest part of this role is the part you’re avoiding right now by giving her whatever she wants.
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As a parent, our role is not only to love our children, but also to teach them important life lessons – empathy, respect, gratitude – and to create a structure where they feel safe. In short, we are raising adults who can go out into the world and thrive. A lack of structure and boundaries creates anxiety and makes your child feel unsafe.
It’s nice that you’re focused on her happiness, but it’s just as important that you’re focused on building independence, resilience, and structure. That means when she wants to stay up all night on her iPad (forgive me I’m assuming she has one), you not only say no, but also implement boundaries, rules, and structures, including maybe no iPad before bed .
You are the only one who can set these boundaries and life will be difficult for a while. I imagine she’s so used to yelling until she gets her way, she’ll kick off like crazy when she realizes you’re no longer a doormat and won’t give in to her yelling. But eventually she’ll learn where the line is and she’ll likely feel safer and happier as a result. It may not feel like it in the short term, but your life will become infinitely easier.
Just like hers. Because life is hard. Once your little girl grows up and goes out into the world, there will be a myriad of no’s and a huge amount of disappointment. At this point, the child you’re raising will probably just throw a tantrum, believing that she’ll eventually get what she wants because that’s what she’s used to. Trust me, I’ve seen young adults throw tantrums when they don’t get their way, and it’s not pretty. The spoiled young adults I know can’t keep a relationship or a job, and guess what: it’s always someone else’s fault.
I suggest loving, firm boundaries, with consequences for bad behavior: “No, there’s no more ice cream, and if you keep yelling like that, there won’t be any ice cream tomorrow.” Your job is to stay very calm, no matter how stressed her screaming will make you. And if she keeps screaming? The consequences are getting bigger: ‘Sorry honey, now we’re without ice for up to two days.’ And then, stressed, you stick to it. Whatever happens next, you abide by the consequences.
Once you start setting boundaries and saying no, your child will learn that she won’t get what she wants by yelling, and everyone’s life will be better for it. Good luck Mom – as difficult as it will be to transition into this new phase, you will be doing your child, your family and friends, and even the world a great favor.
My boyfriend of almost three years broke up with me towards the end of 2022. Came out of nowhere but he struggled with his mental health after leaving the military after years and years.
After a month of broken communication, where he promised me he still wanted to be in a relationship with me, I woke up to a text from him saying he broke up with me. He said his head was going all over the place and he should be alone and I deserve to be with someone better than him. That was all I got from him until a few weeks ago. He deleted every picture of me from social media and I just felt completely blindsided.
I cried for him for months and wished I could just have a conversation with him. During this time a close relative passed away and I was also fired from my job.
He messaged me in January that it took a lot of courage to message me and he is not ready to talk yet but will talk to me when he is ready. He apologized for the way he hurt me and said he felt terrible about it. He said a lot of things have happened in the past year that he’s been hiding from me and when he’s ready to open up hopefully I’ll understand why he’s changed. He said I did nothing wrong and he will never have a bad word about me and it was for the best in the long run.
I’m still in love and want him back. I have never felt so comfortable, in love and happy as with him. I miss him every day. I messaged him back and told him how I felt about it and said he can reply when he is ready. He read the message a week after I sent it but hasn’t said anything and it’s been a few days.
Everyone except some of my friends thinks I’m crazy because I still feel this way and they tell me to move on. I feel like I’m all alone in this and it’s such a struggle. How am I supposed to handle this when it still cuts so deeply every day?
Van, Lonely Girl
Dear lonely girl,
Dear Jane’s Sunday Service
A word about raising children
As a mother of six children, four of whom I gave birth to, I know a little about parenting.
When my kids were young, everyone would tell me how lucky I was that my kids were so well behaved and so lovely to be around.
Luck, I would tell them, had nothing to do with it. Left to their own devices, children are practically feral.
Our job, and it is a job, is not just to love them, but to raise them to be good adults, to teach them not only to be kind, but to be respectful and polite, in short, to raise them to people who want other people to be around.
I am so sorry you are going through this pain. It’s the worst pain in the world, it totally sucks, and unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done but wait for time to heal. He’s made it very clear that he’s moved on and that you need to find a way to let go of the past because there’s nothing in his messages to suggest that he’s open to rethinking your relationship.
The fact that you felt comfortable, happy and in love tells me that you will feel that way again. I have known many people who have lost their loves, been dumped and felt like they would never find love like that again – but they did and they are happier now than ever before.
What makes this so much more difficult is that you never had a conversation about what went wrong. If he would be willing, a conversation can help you close it. Anyway, he has moved on, and the best advice I can give is to keep yourself busy, spend time with friends you love, find things in life that bring you joy.
It would be helpful for you to process this with someone professional rather than a friend, because our friends get impatient and tend to advise rather than just listen. Find a local therapist or check out Betterhelp.com, which offers online therapy at very reasonable prices.
I can tell you from experience that broken hearts heal, but it takes time. One day you’ll realize that he’s not the first person you think of, and then suddenly you’ll find yourself gone for a few days without him being the main thing on your mind. The pain becomes easier to live with and then slowly, slowly goes away. I wish I could give you better news, but with my heart broken, it took a whole year for me to start feeling like myself again, and another year for me to be able to honestly think about that person without emotion or pain.
I wish you the best, Lonely. And I send you lots of love.