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slides: Mum’s the Word: When Your Child Wants a New Family

Friday, June 05, 2015


She also has begun to notice that our family is a little different than others.

My daughter, Lia, is now at the age where she notices everything. She notices when my hair is “messy,” and she doesn’t hesitate to compare my hairstyle to people like Charlie Bucket from the Chocolate Factory or Cindy Lou Who from Whoville. 

See Slides Below: What to do When Your Child Wants a New Family

Lia notices when we drive past a McDonalds.

“I haven’t eaten in three hours. I’m so hungry, Mom.” 

She also has begun to notice that our family is a little different than others. 

Now that she’s aware that our family isn’t like Caillou’s and that she just has just a mom instead of a mom and dad, she has taken to saying things like “I want to be adopted by someone else,” or “I want a different family.”

When she first began saying things like this, I remember it hurt my feelings and made me feel inadequate. I even began to plan elaborate trips to prove to her that even though I couldn’t give her the family she wanted, our family was better because I took her to the circus and the zoo.

However, then I remembered that I used to feel similarly when I was child, and I grew up in a home where both parents were present (way too often in my opinion). 

The desire to have a new family is something that occurs in most kids no matter what type of household they live in, and it’s important to remember that.  

In fact, this happens so often there are several movies about this from Coraline to the Incredibles to that somewhat disturbing Sissy Spacek movie, Trading Mom

So don’t feel bad for even a second if suddenly your child doesn’t seem to like you anymore. 

However, I know that sometimes it’s difficult to remember this when you’re in the heat of the moment.  So in the meantime, here are four things to remember when your child is threatening to trade you in.

See slideshow below.


Related Slideshow: Mum’s the Word: When Your Child Wants a New Family

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Don’t take it personally

Children will say basically anything to get attention. Most likely, when they say they want a new family or even that they hate you, they are just trying to get attention. 

So even though my knee-jerk reaction is to cry and eat a bucket of ice cream, it’s important not to take it personally. I’m not saying you shouldn’t address the issue and tell your child they are being hurtful, but  don’t start second guessing yourself or feeling like you need to make your child feel happy 100% of the time to be a good parent.

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Ask them why

When we were getting out of the car yesterday, Lia mumbled that she wanted “someone else.” In fact, she wanted to be adopted by another mother. 

Instead of becoming upset, I decided to ask why. She responded, “Cause she’ll give me McDonalds.” 

Asking the question was good for two reasons. One, it helped me realize that I had no valid shortcomings that was making Lia not want me as her mother. Two, it gave Lia and I the opportunity to talk about her emotions and help her to understand that I do care what she's feeling.

I continued to refuse to go to McDonalds, but by the end of the short conversation Lia was apologizing and in love with me again. 

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Make time

Let’s face it, usually when children say they want a new dad or mother they are just being buttheads. Somtimes though, it can be a sign that something is actually amiss. They might be feeling like you don’t make enough time for them. So when you hear your kids start to say things like “I wish I had so and so’s dad,” stop and pay attention to what might actually be going on in that little one's head. 

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Mix and Mingle

A good way to help your child appreciate your unique family is to spend time with different types of households. Spend time with your friends who have nuclear families, and then spend time with other single parents. Next, spend time with the aunt who has taken in her nephew or niece. 

Exposing your children to the different types of beautiful families in the world can help them to understand that even though their own family is different, they aren’t worth any less than others.


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