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Help! I've got kids...

My Daughter is Selfish

My Daughter is Selfish

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Dear Bracha,

I hate to even write this, but I am noticing some traits of selfishness in my daughter. She always was such a sweet and giving person, but as she gets older, she seems to have a feeling of entitlement. For the first time I'm seeing her compare how much she's being asked to help out and how much or how little attention or time she's getting from me versus her siblings. How can I teach her to be more giving and forgiving and happy for others in what they get without constantly thinking about her own entitlements?

Answer:

It is so wonderful that you have been able to raise your daughter as such a giving person. From the "tilt" of your question I will make my usual assumptions, which I hope are close to reality.

It seems to me that you are talking about a child who is entering or in her teen years and has younger siblings. If such is the case, then your daughter's reactions are very normal. As children get older, they become more aware of things and make more judgments based on the information available to them. This is a good thing, in general, and is a sign of maturation. What a parent needs to focus on at this point is teaching context.

Let me explain: In the overall picture your daughter is seeing, there probably is justification for her conclusion that she is asked to help out more than others and is not getting as much attention as some of her siblings. From her point of view she is correct. However she has not been able to understand context or has ignored the mitigating circumstances that have led to this situation.

The fact that younger children need more help with things such as homework, bathing or bedtime may be getting lost in your daughter's new awareness. The fact that younger siblings cannot help out as much as an older more skilled child may also be overlooked.

Sit down with your daughter during a quiet moment and reach an understanding that will make her feel special. Part of that will be explaining to your daughter the how and why of her role in the family. There is no accident in anything, especially the order of birth. G‑d is very aware of who will be the younger child and who will be the older. This means that older children are meant to help raise and be mentors for their younger siblings for very special reasons. It also means that an older child will have more privileges than a younger child.

Let her know how much you appreciate her and have come to rely on her as a responsible and caring person. Let her feel your pride in her accomplishments and see if you can do more things together even if they are technically work, these are opportunities to bond.

Now, once you've explained this to your daughter, you too have an important point to consider: It is a fact that generally younger children are not asked to perform chores or take on responsibilities at the early rate that their older siblings were. There is a natural tendency to teach the firstborn to do things early; a situation that slows down with each additional child so that the youngest siblings often seem catered to and not included in the family chore system until very late, usually far too late. This will of course result in some resentment from older siblings, but it also hurts the younger siblings in that it delays their development in the areas of responsibility and maturity.

So you have to ask yourself—is your daughter right? And if so, how bad is the discrepancy in terms of responsibilities and attention? Weighing the factors as mentioned above: what are her siblings really capable of at their age and what are their real needs.

Another thought: All children want their parents' attention and this can be very difficult to deal with, especially in an active household with a lot of young children. Many children work some way of getting and holding a parent's attention, some of which are not pleasant, putting a parent in the position of necessity, in that he or she must deal with a situation immediately… With the result that the child who is good, considerate and more mature ends up being ignored. In terms of attention this means that the more problems you have or the more trouble you cause the more attention (reward) you get; and the nicer you are the less attention (punished) you get. Is that really what we want to teach our children?

Take a step back and look through your daughter's eyes for a day. Then decide if her objections have some validity. Next you will have to decide what you are going to do about it. All children need some attention and your daughter is clearly indicating that she feels she does not get enough.

Wishing you and your family all the best!


Bracha Mirsky is a mother of triplets and twins, a Registered Nurse and labor Coach, and a Certified Parent and Infant Consultant, who has a unique ability to see "parenting complexities" from a multitude of angles. Bracha can be reached via her site: whatmakeskidstick.com
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Discussion (6)
October 24, 2011
daughter selfish
Dear Anonymous,

You had me puzzled right up until you wrote;
"when I put the washing (in the) machine to go I pick up her clothes and wash them to help her, "

Don't you see how you are enabling her to escape her responsibilities? Believe me, at the age of 28 she does not need your help in picking up her clothes or washing them.

Unfortunatly both you and your daughter are stuck in a habitual relationship. You can't stop doing for her and she (most of all) can't start doing for her self. My best advice is that she needs to leave the house and is in danger of developing even more dependancies if she stays. This will have a negative effect and your relationship with her is likely to errode further.

Be kind but firm, she is working and earning money. Even if it is more "economical" to live with your parents, it is time for her to leave the nest and stay on her own, allowing her the best hope of blossoming in to the kind, capable and independent woman we know she can be.
Bracha
Thornhill, Ontario, Ontario
October 18, 2011
Tried everything with her
My daughter always been like that. When the brothers and sister would join the family and help to set the table she would whitdrawn in her room and would be creative and paint etc.
Now she is 28 and is back to live with us, she has been living with us for a year and she does not wash one single plate. I ask her and she has the courage to spend her days off enjoying herself eats and drinks and leave the dishes to do for us when we arrive home. I gave her a row a few times and next day she washes her dishes but just for one day, because the following day everything comes back to normal, her normal.

spend my days off cleaning the house and when I put the washing machine to go I pick up her clothes and wash them to help her, she knows and she never is capable to do anything just to give a hand. She sees her dad washing the dishes after a day of work and walks away when she stayed all day at home off. We all work in the house but only me and my husband do the house work and shopping etc.
Anonymous
December 21, 2009
Mothe rdaughter relationship
Dear Bracha
My daughter has gone to stay with her grandparnts after another row she is 16 and I am a non supported single parent.
Our relationship has been frought to say rthe least over the years and I have said very hurtful things to her . I tried to use my parents, with whom she is now staying as someone to lean on but regretably that has become a conflict as they have not helped regularly with both her and my own emotional care. She now says she has had enough and wants to stay there until she is 18. I have called her lazy and vain and selfish and she has been very hurt about this. I am distraught as she is all I have worked for What can I do now to repair the relationship?. She is staying there over the holidays and says she never wants to live with me again.
Anonymous
September 1, 2009
To Anonymous
There is a very simple solution to your case.If your daughter refuses to do you a favor, refuse to do her any favors or give special privliges. When she needs to borrow the car or asks for money to go shopping, tell her no can do.In fact, you don't even have to let her go out with friends.You are required to feed and clothe her and make sure she gets schooling and medical treatment, but anything beyond that are privliges, and privliges have to be earned. It may seem harsh, but she needs to understand that everyone has responsibilities and there is no reason whatsoever why she should not help out.
Kanna-Chan
Cadwell, Georgia
August 3, 2009
my daughter is selfish
As my daughter got into her teens...she has become so consume with her wants and needs! For instance, every year I volunteer at her school. I love doing this! Well, we have added an addition to our family a year ago, and sometimes it is hard to do stuff and to volunteer. I had ask my daughter if she would please take care of her brother for 4 hrs while i volunteer. She refused to babysit and claimed that i was ruining her time. She had made plans that morning to be at the school so she can see who was coming in as freshmen. honestly i thought that was not important. She went on about this and that. Because she has refused to help out on previous times and blew up! I don't think I should feel the way i do toward her. it hurts me to feel this way. I do everything for her. take her and friends places, I buy her what she needs. we are constantsly doing for her, but refuses to contribute to the family chores or babysit. she will only do something if there is something in it for her! help!
Anonymous
corpus christi, tx
February 22, 2009
My daughter is selfish
Thank you.

I needed to take a walk in my daughters shoes.

Somehow I forgot to do that.

She is indeed valued, and kind.

Thank you again, for lifting me up.
Lucky Chicken
Anchorage, Alaska
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Bracha MirskyBracha Mirsky is a mother of triplets and twins, a Registered Nurse and labor Coach, and a Certified Parent and Infant Consultant, who has a unique ability to see "parenting complexities" from a multitude of angles. Bracha can be reached via her site: whatmakeskidstick.com
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