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Single Parenting/my daughter says her father's girlfriend spanks her


I am the mother of a 3 and a half year old little girl that has told me several times that she doesn't like her father's girlfriend because she gets mad at her when she misbehaves and spanks her. I am not sure how to handle this situation cause when her father asks our daughter if this is true, she denies it. Her father and I are not against spanking after several warnings if she is misbehaving, but we also agree that we are the only ones allowed to discipline our daughter in that way. A couple of days ago, when her father asked our daughter why she says that to me if it's not true, she said: " I say it only when I am alone with mommy." Later that night, when we were alone, I told her that it was very important she told me and her daddy the truth, and that we both love her very much. For the first time, she said to me that it was not true. Without getting upset, I explained to her that it is important she always tells me the truth because that way I know I can always believe what she says and help her if she needs me. One minute went by, and she called me, and told me again the same story that his father's girlfriend spanks her. At this point, I don't know what to believe. Is it likely she is just jealous and that's why she is making those things up? Also, I know from my child's father that his girlfriend used to be beaten as a child by her step father which makes me think she could be re-enacting what she grew up with with my daughter now. My daughter is in love with her father like most little girls are, but lately she has asked him to stay and play with her here, where we live, instead of taking her to his home, where he lives with his girlfriend. Should I just wait and see if my daughter starts refusing all together to go to his father's house? Is there anything else I can do to help the situation? I would appreciate any suggestion on how to find out the truth, or help my little one feel reassured if she is just being jealous over her father

Hi, Carola, thanks for your question. Boy, it's difficult, eh? Well, I will try to help you as much as I can. Here are some thoughts.

1. the good news is that kids are pretty resilient, as long as they have one person in their life who is warm, loving and respectful. They can endure a lot of abuse if they know they have at least someone.

2. I don't mean to come across as critical, so please don't take it that way. However, I think it is VERY important that you stop asking questions of your daughter and stop asking her to 'tell the truth'. Three your old kids are much too young to be put in the middle between parents. Doing so, even if by accident, is more harmful than you realize. Instead, be accepting of the things she says. Besides, 3 year olds do not have the same concept of 'the truth' as we do. Kids say and do a lot of things, and much of that is not on purpose. Asking a kid to 'tell the truth' is asking them both to understand things beyond their level, and then to comport their understanding to adult 'truth', and then to make sure it comes out in a way that adults can understand. You may not believe me, but please consider altering your behavior - I am certain that this is harmful.

3. not all spanking is abusing. However, if you think that it is, you can report it as abuse to your state's abuse abuse agency. That leaves you out of the situation, and the agency can take it from there.

IDK if I've answered all your questions. If not, follow up, please

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.


Questions such as 'what are some options for dealing with this problem' are easiest to answer. It's difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose anyone over the internet.


I'm a licensed psychologist, since 1994. I have raised several step-children.

American Psychological Association Florida Psychological Association National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology


Psy.D., Miami Institute of Psychology, 1993

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