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Do you think this is just jealousy...?

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your email, I am a single mum with two daughters aged 9 and 11 (nearly 12). They spend every second weekend with their father and he treats them well but he refuses to communicate with me in any way whatsoever which can cause problems obviously.

I have a very good relationship with both of them but the eldest in particular has always been very strong willed and often appears very angry. It is difficult to get her to identify her anger and sometimes it can get out of control.

They have had a particularly difficult time over the last year or two with the break up. It was a particularly traumatic breakup and they witnessed some truly awful stuff when their father was trying to get me to move out of the house by intimidation and other methods for which there is now a police prosecution pending. Eventually he was made to leave the home by the courts.

As part of my 'parenting schedule' I take each of them out individually once a month for some ‘one-on-one’ time alone with them. It was my youngest daughters turn this week, and the older girl was going to spend the afternoon with her friend (supervised by her friend’s mum of course). When I picked the girls up from school however the older daughter was in very bad form and was being very difficult so much so I was concerned something had happened in school. When I approached her she got very angry with me … shouting, and so on. She was crying and shouting quite a bit and then refused to go to her friends house.

I told her that she was spoiling my special time with her younger sister and she got her time too so that was unfair. In fact her younger sister was very upset too as she thought our afternoon together would have to be cancelled. Eventually I persuaded her to go to her friends but with difficulty and I was really quite angry with her for spoiling the afternoon. I work part-time so I am with both of them every day after school but still think it’s important to have some individual time with them also.

Do you think this is just jealousy? She really can be very difficult. Should I have actually 'Punished' her for her behavior??

This probably sounds very trivial a problem but her mood swings can be very difficult to handle and very upsetting also. I also worry about her anger which seems mainly directed at me but can also be directed towards her sister and can at time spill over to her friends also.

Thank you for your time,



Hi J.,

Going on what you’ve told me, it does sound like jealousy [with a touch of sibling rivalry] since she refused to go to her friend's house. In these cases, reassurance from the parent is much more effective than punishment.

I also like the idea of ‘one-on-one’ time with each daughter. An even better scenario would be if you could add time with the both of them (‘one-on-two’ time). There’s an added element of mother-daughter bonding that occurs in a threesome (i.e., the whole family spending time together) that would not occur otherwise.

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