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Single Parenting/Giving attention to oldest daughter


I am a single working mum to an 8 yr old girl, 5 and 2 yr old boys. The boys are taking all my energy because they are younger and the 5 yr old has behavior/ anger problems. I am irritable and usually shouting at the 2 older ones especially when they are fighting(usually it's my 5 yr old son annoying/hitting my daughter).
I feel she needs my attention and time an I don't know how to give it to her when I'm always taking care of the boys. Also recently my ex got married, she doesn't talk about anything that bothers her even when we're alone (which is rarely), how can I get her to talk and give her more attention and time?

Hi, Leila, thanks for your question. You asked, "how can I get her to talk and give her more attention and time?"

Well, I have to admit that I feel inadequate to answer this question, for several reasons - I know almost nothing about you, your daughter, your situation, etc. I know almost nothing about your culture. I think some of the answer lies in your cultural norms / expectations. The things that 'girls' (women) do (or are 'supposed' to do). If that makes any sense.

If I were advising an American mom, I would suggest that she consider finding a way to get the boys supervised by someone else for one night a week (dad? an elder? a relative?) and then use that time to have a girls night out. That serves multiple purposes at the same time - you get some sanity and quiet back into your life, you get to do 'girl' things, you and your dtr get to bond, she gets a chance to have you all to herself, she gets a chance to be listened to, etc etc etc.

It is likely that if you spend the time listening (not talking) to her, that she will open up and speak. If she doesnt that is OK, because you, by your actions, are speaking louder than words, and your message is "you, my dtr, are important to me". In addition, you will be 'teaching' her that she is woman, just like you.

There may be other kinds of things you can do that are similar. But the important thing to remember is that actions speak louder than words, when it comes to children. They may not remember what you say, but they will definitely remember what you did  

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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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