Dear Kid Whisperer,
I have heard you speak and you mentioned that the skills that you teach work on adults too. This question involves a child but mostly is needed for an adult. My boyfriend and I have a six-year old girl and we all live together. Very often he is verbally abusive, to me and my daughter. Especially lately, he has really started to belittle, berate, humiliate and threaten us for no reason. Let me be clear that my daughter is in no way a behavior problem. He picks fights with both of us and intimidates us. How do I set limits with him so I can protect my daughter? -Tayla, Dayton, Ohio
Some of this is sort of out of my realm of expertise, though I am going to give you some clinical and technical advice. Please excuse the technical jargon: dump this piece of garbage as soon as possible.
Should I footnote that?
OK, since you haven’t dropped this human zero yet, I’m assuming you won’t immediately do so upon reading these words. Your question itself reveals part of the underlying problem: you ask about how to best take care of your daughter, but do not ask about how to take care of yourself. I will show you how you can take care of yourself and your daughter by setting limits with this loser that you are continuing to allow to part of your life for some unknown reason. Here’s how I would be extremely calm and strict with this guy if I were you:
Loser: You are worthless. Why isn’t dinner ready? What do you do all day anyway?
Kid Whisperer: Our child and I would be happy to stay here with you as long as you can treat us with kindness and respect.
Loser: #@%& you. I worked hard all day! What did you or your brat do? Nothing! I-
Kid Whisperer: How long did I say we would stay here with you? (Kid Whisperer pulls out a fully packed suitcase for two, takes his kid by the hand, walks out the door and leaves. He says absolutely nothing else.)
Note: only leave in such a way that guarantees your safety. If you think that your boyfriend may become physically violent, leave without him knowing, or wait until he is not in your home.
Also, you should call to get advice and a comprehensive plan from the real experts on abusive situations such as yours. In the greater Dayton, Ohio area, call The Artemis Center hotline at 461-HELP(4357). Nationwide, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline number at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Abusive people don’t listen to what their wives and girlfriends say, but they will notice what actions they take. Of course, I would suggest, for the safety and happiness of both you and your kid that you never go back and you take every safe and prudent step necessary to keep you and your kid safe.
Tayla, life is full of nice people and mean people, and life is too short to spend time with the mean ones. Take care of yourself, and I wish you the best.