Parenting Advice Divorce GuiltWelcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!

I recently became stepmother to a 5-year-old girl with some developmental delays due to early-life lead poisoning. She’s a sweet child and I’m fortunate to have a very good relationship with her. However, meals are becoming a nightmare. She’s finally gaining weight and is able to come to us and tell us she’s hungry, so we are frequently preparing small meals for her throughout the day. The problem arises when she selects which food she wants, watches me prepare it, eats two bites, and suddenly “my belly is full.” We tried letting her eat just what she wanted, but we found she’d come back half an hour later claiming she was hungry, yet refusing to eat the leftovers from earlier. When we encourage her to eat what’s on her plate– food that, again, we allowed HER to select– she declines. And if we insist, she melts down. Full-on sobbing hysterics. “I miss Mommy!” She has never, ever said that before. Hmm. “Do you miss Mommy because Daddy told you to finish your potatoes?” “Yes.” “Mommy would also tell you to finish your potatoes, and I’m asking you to finish your potatoes, because this is the fifth time today you’ve asked for food that you didn’t eat, and we’re finished wasting food.” The hardest part isn’t dealing with her inconvenient eating habits, though. The hardest part is that when she melts down to get out of having to clear her plate, her dad picks her up and cuddles her and turns on her favorite movie and basically rewards her for demanding and then wasting her food, while I’m the mean, heartless, bad guy because her tears don’t move me in this scenario. I can’t enlist her mother’s help, because reasons, and trying to talk to her dad just causes a fight, because I’m “attacking his angel.” 
I’m not attacking the little princess; I’m just tired of wasting time and food. Help me?

Whether or not they have a “developmental delay” or not, all five-year-olds are pretty stupid. You just need to outsmart them, which will be pretty easy to do. When you prepare her meals, you need to start cutting the amount in half of what you are giving her now. I don’t care if you are giving her a mouse-sized serving, kids usually end up wasting something. Start freezing anything you can when you prepare meals so you don’t end up starting from scratch every time she is hungry, and then you can just pop leftovers in the microwave. If she balks at eating the same thing she had the day before, be sneaky and art direct it so it looks differently, whether that be adding some tiny slivers of carrots to her potato or melting a little cheese on top. If she has developmental delays, she may just want to eat like a toddler which I cannot fault her for because I LOVE toddler food! Get her things she likes she can nibble on, no kid ever starved from eating string cheese and crackers and sliced up fruits and vegetables. Yogurt, shaved turkey, an egg, toast. Let her help with the shopping and the preparation of her foods and she may be more apt to eat them as well. If she refuses to share mealtimes with you guys when she comes to you hungry explain to her the kitchen is closed so she can have cereal and some fruit. You are not a restaurant. Stop acting like one.
I think the bigger issue is your man is suffering from DIVORCE DAD (whether or not he was married to the baby mama) GUILT and is trying to compensate by giving in to the Princess’s whims and turning her into a monster. Kids like stability. Kids like rules. And kids like it when the adult people in their lives agree and give them that. You need to sit his ass down and slowly explain to him (possibly with sock puppets) that because you are married to him and you are now a co-parents that he has to stop undermining you at every turn. He will no longer reward her tantrums, this is not doing her any favors. The next time she has a meltdown both of you need to calmly explain to her that her behavior is unacceptable. And walk away. If she continues freaking the freak, tell her she has ten seconds to calm down or she is going into time out. And DO IT. Stick her in the corner, on a step, on a chair or anyplace else where she can’t get into trouble. After a few minutes, I would say three, ask her if she is ready to behave like a normal human being. If so, then hug her and tell her thank you for calming down and then move on to a favorite movie or game. All your husband is doing is rewarding bad behavior. It has to stop. If he refuses to get with the program than he is in charge of all the cooking, cleaning, childcare and amusing. Leave. Go see a movie. Get your hair did. Take yourself out to a nice three-glass-of-wine lunch and don’t come home until dark. If he expects you to help raise this child that includes you raising this child to be a nice human and not a brat. Hold firm, girl.

Am I too late for Bad Mom Advice?? I need a father’s Day gift for my husband I can’t think of a damn thing. I can’t afford to get him an iPad or anything fancy, I need something under $50. Halp Halp halp. 

Ties are stupid and boring. So are those coffee mugs that say “World’s Greatest Dad.” Stay as far away from those things as you can. 50 bucks will buy you some excellent picnic supplies including some decent beer. Take him and the kids to a park, buy a frisbee, and let him lounge on a blanket while you feed him grapes. Buy him a DVD he has been wanting, or a CD, and some nice beer or wine. Enlist a sitter and take him to a matinee and inform him you aren’t wearing panties. Don’t wear them. Take him out to a lunch sans kids and ask him all sorts of questions about himself, even if you already know the answers. Ask him shit guys like to talk about, like what was the first concert he went to and what did he want to be growing up? Get him wasted. Sex is always good and sex is free. Men like sex. Hopefully you like sex too so bonus. Make him breakfast in bed, pass out the glitter glue and crayons for the kids to make him cards, and let him do what he wants to do all day, even if it means watching sports all day or The History channel and napping on the sofa. I think all anyone wants on these Hallmark holidays is to feel loved and appreciated. That doesn’t have to cost a lot, if any, money. Buy him something stupid that you know he would geek out over like a Star Wars Lego set or an Itunes gift card and tell him to burn a CD of his Top 50 songs of all time. Get him a cool board game you all can play together (get TELESTRATIONS, zomg I love this game I want to play Telestrations alllllllllll the time) and make some popcorn and spend the afternoon laughing until you cry. Then give him a blowjob. Men like blowjobs.

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