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I have 4 kids 16, 12, 10 and 7 and have been a single parent for 6yrs. Wind back 5 yrs and my children were very loving to each other and I always got comments on how close they were and kind to each other. Now all they do is fight.

The 12yr old has always been kind and sensitive but now he can get mean and say some horrible things. The 10yr old throws tantrums and screams and when I tell her I need a few minutes to myself she gets worse. The 7yr old annoys everyone and when I am talking to him he just smiles even when I am angry, he says he can’t help it. The 16 yr old boy gives me attitude and gets grumpy when I ask for help around the house.

I don’t know where I have gone wrong. It is driving me crazy.


Posted by lisa4, 16th April 2015


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  • I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong nor do I think you’re failing as parent. It may well be that you’re kids have all grown up quite a bit in the last 5 years. It could be they are seeking attention too, four kids and one parent would be a handful


  • Yes, you’re not failing as a parent and didn’t go wrong anywhere. I agree that teenagers and kids entering the teenage years can be a handful and they can have an attitude and be grumpy. It’s good and totally ok to walk away sometimes and take a minute for yourself, I do that too.
    Some tips. Make sure you fill your own bucket. Catch up with friends where you can, grab a coffee, spoil yourself with a visit to the hairdressers or nail bar, go for a massage a join a choir.
    Make sure you spend every day some one on one time with each of your kids, whereby they can decide what to do( even when it’s just 5-10 minutes). With my older kids I do a neck massage, a wee walk, or cook/bake something together. With my 9yr old I do often a wee game like line up 4, memory, battle ship or a craft. And with my youngest it can be a book or do an alphabet game or a visit to the playground. Accept any help ! Being a single mum can be hard. Do your kids visit their dad ? Do you have any help from family members ?


  • You are not failing as a parent!
    You’re dealing with a hormonal teenager & then more hormonal almost teenagers!
    Don’t take it to heart, they’re growing up.
    They will go through this nasty phrase, but rest assured it will pass & your sweet natured children will return.
    Be there for them, let them know they’re upsetting you, remind them it’s not easy being a single parent & hopefully soon you will notice a difference in your household.


  • Welcome to motherhood of growing up children. You have a teen, a nearly teen and a close to nearly teen. Expect conflict. You’re not failing


  • I’m sure you haven’t done anything.. kids go through phases and some are nicer than others. I’m sure they will swing back to those loving caring siblings


  • your not failing as a parent they all go threw this


  • I dont think you are failing I think you have a house full of stroppy hormonal teenagers, your 7 year old sounds a bit like me in the sense of smiling when in trouble, I do that also I cannot stop it, its like a nervous Spasm in my face that I cannot control. maybe he is honest and he really cant help it, although that obviously doesn’t help you and your anger.


  • You haven’t done anything wrong you are a wonderful parent doing your best you have some difficult ages .


  • No youre not!


  • Thank you for the support and great answers. I will try some of the ideas. Spending one on one time is difficult as I work full time and the 16yr old is intellectual impaired (was born 3mths to early) so can’t to much expectation on him. I think I was just having a hard day and needed to vent.


  • Jw.org for some good practical answers. But from my experience of being a single mum from 30yrs old, and whose children are in their 40\’s, ( where did the time go??), you can only do your best as you perceive it to be. To be perceptive you need to read good sound information on your concerns and make your own decision on what is the best for each child\’s personality. In the end we are not perfect so mistakes are made. Children may not understand that, but as adults they will because the evidence will show all you did you did out of love and the best intentions for their welbeing and happiness.


  • There are some really good answers posted here. Thankyou for asking your question, and thank you to the mums who have replied. My first thought reading your story is how familiar it is. My husband and I have children aged 14, 12, 9, and 2. The oldest two have hormones and high school and peer pressure and pushing boundaries. The 9 yr old sounds like your 7 yr old. And Miss 2 is my bundle of energy. Even with 2 parents, I’ve always got at least 2 kids yelling or hurting each other. If I’m too tired, I don’t cope well. I’ve worked out I can only take one day at a time, try to spend one on one time with each, set and stick with the ground rules, open up communication, and still understand and accept that some days will still fall apart. I don’t believe you are a failure. Far from it. I think you are a parent that has enormous love for your children. Chances are in another 6 years, the kids will be best friends again, and probably forgotten that they argued at all (or at least not thought it was as bad as you perceive now). Best of luck.


  • It is tough trying to be the best parent you can be. It seems as though these changes have developed since you became a single parent and after six years on your own, you must be exhausted – I know I would be! The other change is that the kids are six years older as well and what has worked in the past won’t necessarily work now they are older. Their needs have changed just as yours have in that time. You now have four kids in full time school, one in high school, two on the verge. Are you able to find time to look after you? Or is that time you need to “take” from the kids time at home with you? Can you find one on one time with each of them? Can you find something special to share with each one – cooking, gardening, footy, celebs, whatever? I hate hearing myself saying to the kids I “just need FIVE minutes to myself, please?” Cos I know it means I am not meeting either my needs or theirs in how I am managing things day to day. Take a breath, forgive yourself and try to have a plan for a better tomorrow, with time for you, and time for them with you and with each other…..have some fun, bring them on board with how to keep the family home running, what they can contribute and how together you can make things work better. Parenting is the toughest job, the only one that is 24/7, no pay and no Union! The fact you are aware there is a problem and wanting to change things tells me you are not failing as a parent, rather you are working at being the best parent you can be for your kids


  • Raising 4 kids on your own is such a massive achievement. You are definitely not failing as a parent. It sounds like they are just being normal kids but you are having to deal with it all so it feels like you are doing something wrong. You need some time out, time to relax, to think and care about yourself for a little bit. Any chance that you could get someone to look after them for a night?
    My nephew is 16 and was exactly the same. He just started his first part time job and his attitude has changed dramatically. He has a responsibility to show up to work, he gets money to buy things and it’s a bit of independence. The 12 year old – is there anything wrong at school with being bullied. This could be the issue and they are just relaying it back onto you and the other kids….. The 10 and 7 years olds could be just bored and need something new to keep them entertained. Any chance they could do a sport or even reading etc? Hope this helps. You are doing a wonderful job – don’t ever question yourself.


  • You are doing a great job I agree with all these Mum’s… You are not failing as a parent. You are doing the best you can. You must reach out for some help from family and friends.

    Sit the kids down and tell them you are concerned and feel overwhelmed. They will have to sit and listen just as they would in a classroom situation. Ask the kids to help make this home a happier place to live.

    Set some goals like overnight stay’s for the kids to look forward to. You will be very surprised how the dynamic’s of the home change with one family member not home for the night.

    The sixteen year old would benefit from a part-time job and his attitude will change for sure. Suggest working for a juice bar or a coffee shop or a hamburger shop where young people have fun whilst they work. I bet Year 10 is a busy year for him and he would like a happy house too!

    I always spoke to my young children if they were in trouble I would ask them to come to me and have him stand in front of me and we would talk eye to eye. I told him what he was doing wrong and asked him to not do this again. I let him tell me why he thought his excuse was relevant and then we would work out a plan that made both of us happy.

    Your little one who smiles whilst you are angry is doing this as a defensive behaviour just ignore it. Make a list of rules to follow put them on the fridge. (Classroom’s have rules of respect other’s used the sames rules at home) Ask the kids what would work as a family.

    You need time out so get a bay-sitter in and go out to dinner and the movies once in a while. The kids will love having someone else looking after them for a few hours.
    Best of luck Super Mum!


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