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Crying Mommy

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

I’ve brought this up before but I’m not sure if there’s a better way to handle this.

SO’s little one is 5. He and his sister have been completing every other weekend visitation in our home for over a year now. There have been no problems or major changes in our home or living situation since my partner moved in.

A few months ago out of nowhere the little one starts showing some issues. The biggest one we’re still working on is any time he is told something he doesn’t like he starts in with “I’m scared” and then “I want mommy.” We KNOW it’s a manipulation attempt. I don’t know if we stay the course we’re on or if there’s a better way to handle it.

For example almost every single meal we have it starts. He lies that this is wrong or that. Kids lie at that age so I know this isn’t something wrong. We just handle it by telling him either he eats or he can go to bed early without his bedtime movie. So then he starts in with “I’m scared” or a few times it’s been “I’m sad.” If you ask him why he’s scare or sad it’s “I want my mommy.” Well mommies at work and he never wants mommy any other time until he’s not getting his way. We’ll be at the store and you tell him he can’t have a toy and it’s “I’m sad” and “I want my mommy.”

The other week on top of that it became very clear that BM is feeding into this weather she knows it or not. Somehow lying was brought up through watching TV or something like that and we used it as a moment to talk about it. You know “crying wolf”. We brought up how people stop believing people who constantly lie. Instantly the boy said something along the lines of “Mommy always believes I’m scared.” So that’s not helping.

I wouldn’t say she’s coaching him but I think it strokes her ego and helps prove her ideas that SO is the issue. Of course there’s no talking to her about this as she doesn’t every want to see a problem as something they both need to deal with. She refuses to acknowledge there is an issue, lies, and tries to blame him. “Well it only happens on your weekends” or “It only happens right before he’s going to see you.” But we’ve talked to people about different problems and that has always been a complete lie. Even if it is ONLY our weekends why is a 5 year old so upset about coming to his dad that he’s literary sitting in poop at school all day? Of course that’s off topic but that’s what I mean by she doesn’t want to acknowledge there could be an issue that’s not my partners fault.

So yeah I don’t know what to do. We know it’s a way of him trying to get what he wants. BM lets him do whatever he wishes so of course he’s sad and wants mommy but he’s not getting her. We can’t set up a time later for him to talk to her because she’s at work and throws a fit if SO contacts her because she’s “busy”. Of course if she wants to lay into him she suddenly has time to send 30 messages over an hour. She almost never calls when the kids are with us, I think she did maybe 5 times in the past year and almost all of those were the first week of summer break.

I guess I’m just worried because I can only see this getting worse. I’d say our rules are fair and standard. We really have major problems past them playing when they are supposed to be cleaning up, climbing the bed when it’s time to sleep, and not wanting to eat a decent dinner. My partner isn’t aggressive and there are no more spankings in our home. We can take away movies or video games, do an early bedtime, or time out if we need to discipline. We have a lot of fun but it’s not catering to them. We’re not afraid of saying no. But what about the future. I’m scared BM will continue to spoil the child to make him like her more. I’m afraid of this hurting my partners bond with his son. Maybe it will be nothing but I know I’m not the first to worry about this.


lieutenant_dad's picture

You can't worry about this. This is just a thing kids do.

YSS did a lot of the same things. Didn't want to take a shower? He's scared. Doesn't like the food we have for dinner? He gags and makes himself throw it up. Doesn't like the store or restaurant we're going to? He cries and throws a fit.

I believe much of it was due to BM babying him. I remember going to a restaurant for a fundraiser with the boys, BM, GBM, and MIL. It was a place that served BBQ. YSS likes sweet BBQ. He dips chicken, fries, burgers, etc into sweet BBQ sauce. This place had chicken fingers. It had sweet BBQ sauce. It had fries. It had food he would eat.

However, he had a sack of fast food because he told BM he didn't like the place. I looked at YSS and, in front of BM, asked him why he wasn't eating there when he would eat BBQ at our house? BM looked at him with daggers, and YSS slouched down in his seat.

He has gotten MUCH better as he has gotten older. He knows what we expect, and he knows that if he talks to us that we'll listen. He recently told me that he doesn't like a lot of meat. That's fair, and I'll be smarter about the choices of meat that I cook. It doesn't mean that I'm going to cater to him every time, but if I'm making steak knowing he doesn't like it, I'll also throw in some Salisbury steak for him. He isn't going to always get chicken nuggets or burgers, but I'm willing to work with him IF he'll be polite about it.

So stay the course. Kids are rough. They'll learn what you expect, but it takes a really long time. It has been nearly 3 years since DH and I moved in together, and it has only been in the last 6-8 months that the issues have really died down.

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

I do my best to find a happy middle ground with stuff. When I cook I will do what I can to acknowledge that some foods are just icky but I’ve had him throwing a fit for being made to eat pizza because he wanted cereal. Of course the kid LOVES pizza but somedays it’s like he’s looking for something to cry about. This time we had chicken and pasta. He wouldn’t even try the pasta and to the best of his knowledge it was just mac and cheese which he eats almost every time we go out to eat. SO knew the secret was that the pasta was made from zucchini but the boy didn’t and after he tried it he ate the rest with no issue but before that it was “my finger hurts. My stomach hurts. I’m sad. I miss mommy.” He was told he could either eat or go to bed early.

It’s impossible to parent around BM so we don’t even try. The RARE times we are around each other it ends up with her trying to play mother of the year till she gets fed up then her demanding my partner “come get your child” after she’s showed the kids with all the extra attention. She’s starting to regret the monster she’s raising and is just leaving him with his grandfather any time she gets fed up but now grandfather is starting to ban the boy from his house for days at a time because he can’t handle the child either.

Thankfully this is just a minor annoyance. For the most part it’s really not all that bad. The kid mostly listens and we’ve found our path. He’s NOTHING like we understand he’s like with BM or grandpa. I just kind of wanted to make sure no one else had something better. Of course it helps to hear we’re not the only ones.  

Amcc13's picture

Back in the day there was the same issue with SD. She would throw an unholy tantrum screaming I want mommy to the point a security guard once stopped us thinking we were kidnapping her 

reverse psychology worked - a big girl like yourself isn’t scared is she blah blah blah on that line. If she continued it then it became well if your scared to eat or scared to be in the toy store you must be a baby who needs to go to bed. Then she was promptly taken to bed and left there 

shockingly most times she turned back into a big girl who wasn’t scared ! 


Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

Thankfully he knows better than trying to throw a tantrum. There's no way in heck my partner would let that fly.

It's more him trying every thing he can to get out of whatever. You know going to the bathroom multiple times in a half hour, complaining his tummy hurts, his finger hurts, he's tried, he's sad, you name it. 

thinkthrice's picture

Especially so if they have one parent giving into their manipulations and encouraging it.  In my case Chef was a Disney dad so he actually made it worse.  By the time Chef wanted to set down some simple rules it was too late... the damage had been done.  YSS came up with the same manipulations but he knew that I saw through it all as an experience.  Chef was way slower at seeing the light and countering it with reverse psychology.

Tummy hurts? Skid will need to go to bed early with no fun big boy stuff.

Skid going to the bathroom every 20 minutes to avoid eating dinner?  Early bedtime with no fun big boy stuff

Skid is tired?  Off to bed with no big boy stuff.

Persistence is the key... yes there is a huge chance that the skid will PAS out and go to the dark side AKA BM's.  As long as your DH follows through with the rules and does the consequences you have a fighting chance.

twoviewpoints's picture

The kid is being a perfectly normal five year old. Believe it or not, even kids in intact homes pull these stunts. It's not something you can really blame on BM nor something BM can point and say 'ah-ha , Daddy, you're a rotten parent and he doesn't do this at my house'. Pfft. Kids try out their young budding manipulation skills everywhere and with anyone they are with. 

Think about it. If I had my ittle five year old heart set on having McDonald's happy meal last evening for dinner (you know because Mommy always gets me happy meals when I whine enough) but get to your house and Dad and you are serving spaghetti for dinner, I'm not going to want to eat spaghetti. 

If Daddy tells my 5 year old self I can either eat that yucky spaghetti or I can go to bed early with no movie? Well, I'm going to be scared. Scared I might go hungry and afraid I will miss out on a good movie and all scared and lonely in my bed without my usual 'security blanket' ( aka, bedtime comforting movie). 

And if Mommy buys me this or that everytime we stop at a store, but Daddy tells me 'nope, sorry Buddy, nt this time'? You bet my five year old self is going to be all butt out of shape and whine. Boo-hoo, I'm sad, I miss my Mommy. 

Meh, whether I really and truly miss my mother's physical apperance that much or not, I am going to miss that if I were with her she would have let me buy that stupid thing I wanted. If for no other reason because she melts when I whine.

Junior here is experiencing two different homes with two different ways of doing things and parenting styles. Of course he is comparing the two homes. And because he's still little his mind doesn't quite 'get it'. Part of him knows exactly what he is doing, and the other part just doesn't quite understand why things can'tbe th way way at both homes. 

Stand your ground, Dad. Keep running your home in your own way. These are little things right now (dinner and toys), but the bigger things are coming and if you give into to the manipulation tricks or start feeling guilty this kid will learn to walk all over you or simply announce I'm scared or I'm sad and have you melting just like Mom does. Is that really the way you want your son raised? Spoilt and selfish and all about 'me me me'? 

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

Oh I know its age appropriate and normal. Kid’s parent split no matter what the household is like. Being a split family just makes it easier. I’m just more trying to make sure there’s not a better way of handling it out there.  Maybe someone has a magic trick that works better than behave or go to bed early.

Thankfully SO and I are on the same page and by no means is he Disney Dad. I just wish sometimes there was a way to get BM on board and she could see that her babying the child isn’t helping him or her any. I mean she won’t even let the kid walk down stairs by himself.

And then if there is any attempt for SO to address a real problem with her she won’t have it. She just wants to blame him rather than actually seen that the kid may need help. There are things that won’t change if both homes don’t work on it and that’s not on either of them. Kids have issues from time to time. Being in a split family just makes it easier for those issues to be ignored even more so when BM thinks this is a blame game

thinkthrice's picture

It would be nice if these selfish, jealous, entitled MOTY GUBMS would realize that their children are more important than they are, but we know that would never happen.  In my case, the Girhippo blames everything on the break-up to this day.  She immediately put the skids in Banana Splits counseling when they were doing just fine.  She got them labeled learning disabled; blaming the break-up instead of her neglectful parenting.  Today the skids are early twenties and late teens.  They're academic failures, perma-victims, socially stunted and were brought up with no expectations.  Basically pets.  They're ill-equipped to deal with life.  She was extremely successful at PASing them out, but Chef was greatly to blame because he went along with it.

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

Well update. Another night of refusing to eat dinner. Will not eat what we have fed him multiple times in the past with no problem. He started in saying how he wants to stay with his mom this week. Too bad, too sad.

We didn't let him distract and after he ran out of ways to avoid eating(drank all his drink, went to the bathroom, cried for mommy) he was given the option of eating or going to bed. He's cleaning up the room now and will be going to bed two hours early but that was his choice. No movies, no more games, no more playing, we're done with this.


Twice in the past we've let him get up and eat then stay up. Not this time. We've got to get up early tomorrow and I'm not in the mood for games.

RainbowsAndDaisies's picture

There’s a difference between acknowledging a kids feelings and allowing yourself to be manipulated. 

Kid: I’m scared and I want my mom.

Parent: I hear that you’re scared and you want you’re mom. Now go do what I told you to do. 

Kid: No (because I’m scared and I want my mom).

Parent: Okay. (Turn off the tv, end whatever fun activity and put the kid in time out.)

Willow2010's picture

Ahhhh the food wars. And yes…I am the odd ball out here about the food wars. I don’t think that any kids needs an extra meal cooked up for them but if they don’t want what is being served, then just let him have a choice of cereal, sandwich or a can of soup.

The kid is 5. Which is still young. (and Im not sure I would let a 5 year old go up a flight us stairs by himself either)

He is only coming to your house 4 days a month. And he sounds like he has a miserable time. I get that the point needs to be made that he can’t have his way all the time but the food issue is not a battle I would go into. I mean really…what would it have hurt to let him have a bowl of cereal in place of a piece of pizza? He would have been happy, fed and got to stay up with his father instead of going to bed 2 hours early. (Which IMHO is terrible to do to a 5 year old.)

I just think you both are fighting the wrong battle with this kid. IMHO. And BTDT.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

SD5 went through a period like this (of course it started shortly after BM started telling her she's a terrible person if she doesn't miss her all the time...) You just kind of ignore it. Or tell them basically "that's nice, but mommy's not here right now. So buck up and get to work little camper." She too never wanted BM unless she wasn't getting her way. I think she thought it might work... But considering when it was actually time to go back to BM she would throw a complete fit and cry for "daddy and PA" I think it was a complete manipulation technique. You just ignore it. They'll get through the phase. SD5 literally NEVER even asks about BM now, most I've heard was a few weeks back after her birthday party (that BM showed up to uninvited... And considering she pulled the girls off stuff... Probably said s**8 to them...) She just said "you know I love my other mommy too PA (I thought it was funny, she said other mommy... Then used my name, LMAO)" All I responded with was, "yes I do kiddo." And that was the end of it. Nothing else has been said about it.

secret's picture

You're not going to like my advice, but here it is, anyway.

Tell the kid straight up - your mom's not here, I'm not your mom, this is what you're going to do, stop doing that, the rules here are.... and so on.

You don't have to outright dismiss your skids feelings on wanting their mom etc, but you do need to tell them that despite what they want, that's where they are now and that's that.

SS used to do that too... anytime anything didn't go his way, he wanted his mommy. I eventually lost it on him and told him that he can see his mommy when he sees her, and that in the meantime I didn't want to hear another whiny peep out of him about it - that I know he was angry at having to do XYZ, but I was angry at his attitude, and that I'm the boss that's it that's all and if he didn't like it he could go be pouty in his room...

Maybe a bit harsh for a 4 year old, but black and white enough that it got the message across that any manipulation crap wasn't going to work.

Yes, it's partly a manipulation tactic - kids are master manipulators... but it's also a comfort thing - it's a cry for attention, and it gets them the attention. Little jimmy cries for mommy, gets coddled by everyone else....

Just be firm. School's not going to coddle them the way they're coddled now... they're going to be firm with them... they're going to learn that there's a time and place to cry for attention... best start now

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

That's sort of the approch. Most times it's easy because "mom's at work right now. Please eat your dinner." I honestly wish we could let the kid call later but she is at work and can't take calls. Unless she wants to b*tch at my partner it's complete radio silence on her end and if he tries calling IF she answers she yells at him about it.