Toddler uses foul language she learned from her dad

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, September 2, 2020

DEAR ABBY: Although he has never hit me, my husband has been emotionally and verbally abusive ever since our wedding five years ago. One of his favorite names for me when he’s angry is “B—-.” I know this is my fault because I have tolerated it.
Today, my 2-1/2-year-old daughter (who is usually a good girl) threw a tantrum and called me the same name twice. I try to discipline her, but she doesn’t understand that she’s saying something bad if Daddy can call me that. How can she? He blames me for her talking that way, saying he hasn’t called me that in a month. (He called me that last week. I don’t use that language.)
I have suggested marriage counseling in the past, but he refused. I can’t leave him because I am seven months pregnant with our second child. How do I get both of them to respect me? — DISRESPECTED IN THE EAST
DEAR DISRESPECTED: You know that appointment you wanted to make for you and your husband with a licensed marriage and family therapist? Make one for yourself, right now, because what’s going on isn’t healthy for you or your little girl.
Your husband demeans you because from the moment you married him you have allowed it. Your 2-year-old isn’t being disrespectful when she calls you what her father does. Children her age want attention, and they are mimics. Giving them attention when they use bad language reinforces them to do it more.
Please do as I’m suggesting before you conceive a third child. From your description of your relationship with your husband, his verbal abuse and the disrespect it conveys WILL be an example for your children that will follow them into adulthood.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 37-year-old mother of two (ages 9 and 11). My husband and I have built a beautiful life together. We live in close proximity to his family, whom I absolutely love.
My question involves my own family. My father passed away 2-1/2 years ago. We were very close, so it is an ongoing struggle for me. My mother has since disowned me and my children. She’s a textbook narcissist who has said many very hurtful things and has a new man and new life. Our relationship was always strained, and I knew it wouldn’t be the same without Dad because he was the glue.
I have come to terms with this for myself, but we haven’t talked to our children about it. How do I explain to them that their grandma doesn’t want to be a part of their life? They love her and ask about her often, so I keep making stuff up.
She won’t answer phone calls from me or my husband. I believe she has us blocked. She has also blocked us on social media along with other family members.
I want my kids to know the truth, but I don’t want to hurt them. How can I do this? — MOTHERLESS IN OHIO
DEAR MOTHERLESS: Stick as close to the truth as you can, with some editing. If your children ask about their grandmother, explain that people deal with the death of a loved one in different ways. In your mother’s case, “She needed to look forward and not look back. Because your grandfather’s death was so painful, she is concentrating on things other than family, and although we might miss her, we should be comforted that she has found a way to cope. It may not be what we would have wished, but it is her way, and we have to respect it and go on with our own lives.”
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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