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How can I teach her not to feel guilty for her mother's sadness?

Community Member

I have been with my partner since 3 years. I met him and his little girl (A.) when she was only 8 months old,now 4 years old

We live up the far north Queensland on a beautiful cattle farm, mother lives in the Brisbane

On the beginning when I met we had her pretty much 70% of the time, 4-6 weeks living with us, approx. 3 weeks living with mum. Her mum was quite neglective on the beginning, loved to go out, so we had A. For longer at a time then she had her. This went along for 2.5 years. In the past 5 months, mum has been a bit more persistent in having her equally (3 weeks us, 3 weeks her). The little one was always excited to come up here, she absolutely love sher dad and they have an unusual close bond. Mum in the CBD spends her time more in shopping centers and buys her an abnormal amount of gifts. Every week. When a. Is up here, mum shows her via video chat all those gifts she bought in the meantime. However we have noticed that the little one seems to get upset when her mum tells her that it makes her sad because she misses a.

So the last visit, she was with her mum for two months.

Little a. Arrived and she seemed like a changed person.

We had her toilet trained, no dummy, no comforter. This visit, She is peeing her pants on several occasions and doesn't sleep without nappies, mother also gives her a dummy every night again and a. Will not go anywhere without her comforter. She is behaving like a tiny baby, wants to be fed and carried. She also is scared of everything. She won't stay in her room to play if we exit the room for 10 seconds.She follows us everywhere always asking where we are going. I would call it almost anxious. When we say no to little things, she cries and cries and cries. Two days ago she was upset all day after calling her mum via video chat. She kept on syaing she wants to go home. Mum is sad and that makes her sad and she needs to go back so mum is happy again. I can't make her happy with anything unless I give her something in exchange (like a lolly or such) and her mood will pick up. But that can't be the right thing to do? She still loves going to the creek but she is even scared of the animals now. At night, she won't sleep in her bed, says their is a ghost and a scary man. Saying windows and doors need to be locked so no one can come in.

So we tried to comfort her in our bed. As soon as one of us gets up for a pee, she is sitting straight up asking where we are going as if she is not even sleep. What happened to her?

4 Replies 4

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Mrsbiggiemaan~

Welcome here, I'm not going to try to say much in initial reply except two things:

The first is that I deeply sympathize with your situation, it is heartbreaking for you, and I'm sure you partner, to see your little girl change for the worse like that. You are sending her to a situation outside you control and sadly this seems to be the result.

The second is to ask if you have had A undergo a thorough medical, and child psychologist's examination since this started? I would strongly suggest you relay this description of A's behavior to the medical personnel involved.

I look forward to talking with you again soon.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Mrsbiggiemaan

I see Croix has given you excellent sage advice in regard to the physical and mental health aspect of this little girl's well-being. This should also help in giving you some peace of mind and guidance.

It's sad that she feels responsible for her mum's happiness. What a huge weight for such a little person to shoulder. Perhaps it might pay to think up ways to show her how we are largely responsible for our own happiness. We can definitely be helpful to others when it comes to happiness but, at the end of the day, actively developing skills in the way of stimulating happiness in our own life presents 2 considerations:

  1. Mum is responsible for her own sense of happiness (it is not my role to make her happy) and
  2. I am skillful, myself, when it comes to stimulating happiness in my own life (without having to solely rely on others). Maybe you could lead by example, explaining the importance of you yourself having developed your own hobbies, interests, personal goals to look forward to etc.

Just a thought. By the way, #2 becomes an empowering thought that will serve her throughout the whole of her life.

You sound like such a beautiful caring person and this little girl is so incredibly fortunate to have you looking out for her. You are an angel!

Sending loving vibes your way

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Mrsbiggiemaan,

Welcome to the community here. I agree with Croix, I think a visit to a Dr specialising in children's welfare would be beneficial.

It may be just that A has been frightened by a male associate and that is causing her to talk about men in such a fashion. Best to get that checked out I think.

Can you distract her with other things rather than lollies or even gifts? Does she react to music, clapping cheerfully perhaps, maybe organise an old fashioned treasure hunt outside having her look for things.

Maybe make up a scrap book with pictures of things she likes or enjoys. Magazines can be bought cheaply from Op Shops or even travel brochures have loads of pretty pictures. You could paint pictures together to go in the scrapbook.

Keep reminding A how loved she is. Hopefully reassurance and love will help her feel more settled.

All the best to you all from Dools

Community Member
Thanks every one for such great comments I really appreciate it. And I tried also to distract her with music and crafts when she is said and it works.... The longer she stayed here the longer she became her confident self again. But she also keeps on saying sometimes 'I really need to go home to mummy now, she is all alone and sad if I'm not there'. It hurts my heart when she is saying that. Do you think that with three years old she is really seeing her mum upset and feels for her or do you think mum is getting into her head and she is making her daughter feel bad?

Little a. Is back with mum now and I can see her going backwards again. Mother showers her with gifts of unnormal amounts like Christmas everyday and I really don't like that. Little seems to also starting to compensate things now. When she tells dad that she loves him she will quickly say 'but mum I love you too' or if she blows kisses to him through video chat she will blow the same to mum saying 'see mum you getting them too' isn't that strange for a little girl? I think so

I just feel so terrible for her to be mentally responsible for her mother and her mother is mentally not in the greatest shape, she even tells My partner how often she struggles but yet wouldn't let her stay with us longer. Is there anything else I can do? Child welfare would be probably he step to far? Even though I think it's classed as emotional abuse to feed a child that much IF she does so, unless it's normal for a kid to be that caring about mum only.
I am also considering a psychologist for the time that she is here which is just a while away.