Mother takes pleasure in torturing her Kids

Received Saturday, August 16, 2008. - Perspective & Opinion
My problem isnt about a nanny because I am a nanny. Perspective is probably what I need.
I am in a hard position because sometimes I think I am making a bigger deal of something that isnt there. I dont even know. I work for someone who has kind of a lot of friends and has lots of plans on the calendar. Her husband isnt in the picture and even though he is the childrens father I never met him but saw pictures of him. He lives in London but they are all American.

The woman is a good boss to me. She pays me on time and brings me some treats sometimes. She ordered a jacket by internet and when it came she didnt like it and she just said 'you can have it if you want it'. It was a really pretty and expensive jacket. She is a stay at home mom. Money isnt a problem for her. Even though shes home she doesnt get in my way. She lets me do my job and appreciates what I do.

Here is the problem. The woman has a meanness to her about her kids. She is never mean to them. She treats them regular and nice, but sometimes if it is something physical she can be mean but not abusive. I will have to give examples of what I mean. When the 5 year old was getting out of the car and I was on the other side unbuckling the two year old, the 5 year old fell. Fell right out of the backseat and landed on the pavement. I couldnt see from my angle until I went to the other side. I was shocked to see the boy on his back with his arm under him because the mom who saw the whole thing was laughing. She was laughing loud and hard. Even when she saw me rush to him and bend down and give him comfort, she was still laughing. That is one example. Another example is when the two year old skinned his knees on the sidewalk. I sat him on the counter in the bathroom and was cleaning his knees off with a wet washcloth. The mom came in the bathroom and in one fast move she opened a bottle of alchohol and poured it on his knees. She poured so much it made a mess on his legs, got on his socks and even burned my eyes. But of course, it burned his cut and he started crying. Her response was to chuckle.
This mom does hug her kids too. And she tells them she loves them, but when they get hurt, she is very strange. Its not like a dad who just wants his kids to be toughened up. It's something sicker. When something happens I will be upset with what happened and I guess the word is put off, but then everything continues normal. Until the next time she does something like that.

Another thing that happened more than once is that one of the children will be constipated. It is usually the two year old. I will say to her, maybe you can pick up some prune juice, but she never does those methods. She makes the kids take castor oil right away. She is the mom so I can just suggest. Since I noticed this, I try to not tell her if they are constipated and just make sure they eat lots of applesauce and juices. She combs the boys hair and unless you comb the boys hair yourself too, you might not know that there is no reason for them to be wincing and whining. She is rough on their heads with a hard man's comb when she doesnt have to be. I comb their hair and they dont give me any problems. I am most concerned with how she laughs when the kids get hurt. They never have been seriously hurt so this is why I need perspective.
Maybe they fell off a swing or one of them ran over the other boy's foot with a push bike.
Am I overreacting? If anyone else notices anything wrong with this mom, they sure dont let on. I wish I could say "thats not funny" or "I dont find that funny" but she is my boss and they are her kids. And like I said, it isnt ever anything where they are really hurt, its more like shut a hand in a door or choked on a piece of pizza. The six year old does know something. The last time he hit his head on a door frame, I was in the room with him. I got up and went to him and said "owwww, are you okay" and I patted his head. He looked at me, he rubbed his head and gave me a hug. No cry or no tears, but I really think he really just got it.


Anonymous said...

It isn't funny. Unfortunately I think this something that comes down to how she was probably raised. It's not gonna change (unless she's willing to endure years of therapy to get the root of!). I would just make sure you give the kids the extra love and security they need.

nynanny said...

This is cruel and inhumane what this mother is doing. I wish you could call her on it, but I'm sure you wouldn't be comfortable with that. But you have to do something. You can't just stand by and watch her treat these poor boys this way. I don't know why you would second guess yourself over whether or not you were over-reacting because I actually think you're under-reacting.
There must be something you can do to help them, of course, besides give them the extra attention and love, but somebody needs to say something to her.
Is her Mom still alive? Or another family member or friend that you can talk to? This mom needs some serious help, or her boys are going to grow up doing the same thing to their kids.

vi said...


Nanny said...

I am not saying what she is doing is good, and there is probably something wrong with her, but maybe, MAYBE she is laughing it off so the kids will laugh it off too. There is nothing that makes a child emphasize pain like being like "oh my gosh! are you okay? are you hurt?!"
I mean... that doesn't explain some of the things... but I like to hope that the mother isn't sadistic towards her children...

lovesthegirls said...

Hey OP

Perhaps keep doing what you are doling... and model it in from of her. It is only a matter of time before the boys, the older one especially begins acting like her when someone gets hurt. Corect him in front of her.. and DO say that's not funny, we must be empathtic to so and so..." Just a thought. I believe she does love her kids, but this will get them into LOADS of trouble at school..... Hang in there, LOVE those boys, and just keep being the BEST model you can be to teach empathy--- and pray she changes and the boys break what I assume is a geneational cycle.

mom said...

How sad. Empathy is very important when raising kids.

I do know that some poeple react to stress with laughter...just like some people cty with happiness. I have had a couple of times when something really stressful happened and all I could do was laugh...much to my horror. But they were really overly stressful things...not bumped heads or skinned fact never about my kids getting hurt.

But I am giving OP credit for being there and seeing that this is something really creepy that the mom is doing...and I think that is so incredibly sad. OP, please show the boys plenty of concern when they are hurt or sad, so that tey will know that they deserve comfort when they are feeling bad...and also so that they will learn to show empathy for others.

What a sick sounding mom this is.

kc said...

I have to agree with nanny @ 10:57. This is probably just the way she was raised and (to an extent) I can understand laughing it off when things like that happen, so that the kids will not overreact. And just to illustrate a point, my husband laughs when something scares him (you should see him get a shot!) so maybe the mom is just laughing out of some kind of adrenaline reaction. But unless this gets worse, I would just keep doing what you're doing.

the fisherman's wife said...

nanny and kc- she's not just laughing at them, she poured ALCOHOL into the wound of a two year old. That's not "just a nervous laugh" that's sadistic and a horrible way for any mother to treat her children.

Now, I will never, ever claim to be the world's greatest mother, but when my kids get hurt, they at least get an "Are you ok?" depending upon which kid it is and what has happened.

OP, this is NOT normal and unfortunately, unless you are willing to risk losing your job you may not be able to say or do anything to change their behavior. I think that the best thing that you can do is to show them love and empathy when they do get hurt and hopefully they will see that what their mother is doing is not something that normal people do.

Best of luck and keep us posted.

cfg said...

Thank you fisherman's wife. As I read some of these comments, I was incredulous that anyone would make excuses for this sick womans behavior. None of what she did is ok, and it's certainly not out of nervousness. She is a sadist.
I bet a psychologist would love to get his hands on her, just to see what would make her lack so much empathy. Most would think thats an emotion thats hard wired into you, not typically something you have to 'learn'.
Anyway, OP, you really should say "thats not funny" the next time something like this happens. And if you can't do that, then make sure you give these kids every bit of love and attention you can.

mary knows said...

I am confused as to why so many of you attribute mom's brutal touch to how she was raised. What does that have to do with anything? If we were reading about a man who molested 8 girls, would you pipe in "oh well we must attribute that to how he was raised". Statistically, there would be a great chance he was molested as a child, but where is the personal responsibility in this? A lot of people endure horrible childhoods and they don't get a free pass to mock their own children and splash rubbing alcohol in their wounds.

I would like to thank lovesthegirls for her comment. Absolutely, you must model appropriate behavior for this mother. You do what is right, out loud and in front of her. If a child needs comforting, you comfort the child. If someone poured alcohol (why do I imagine gleefully?) on a child's open wounds, I would say, "Oh my God, that's going to hurt, X, are you okay? Here let me rinse that off".
And then I would give child extra tlc.

If Mom is as sick as she sounds, you wont be able to change how she treats the children when you aren't around, but she will learn by your consistent example- exactly what you think is appropriate.

Good luck. And keep us posted.

To those of you who suggested Mom was merely trying to help the children "not overreact", shame on you!

Let's stop assuming people who submit their stories and questions are idiots, okay? Obviously OP is troubled by what she was witnessed.

mom said...

Just to add a little to what Mary said above...I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to teach kids not to overreact.

Right way: When your child fals, bumps his head, etc., avoid letting out a blood curdling scream at the moment of impact. Instead, wait as calmly as possible (so as not to alarm your child and cause him to become more upset than he might otherwise be) to see your child's reaction. If he goes on playing without making a fuss, let him be. Or, if you are right there, say something calmly,like, "Are you OK there?"

Right way: If your child cries, still avoid the blood curdling scream part, because it will do nothing to improve the situation anyway (never mind how I know this...aaggghh.)But be sure to calmly comfort him or her (and no, this will not turn your sons instantly gay, or even into weak sissies)until he feels better. Take care of the injury, assuring him that all will be fine, hug him until he is finished crying, and then, as cheerfully as possible, tell him he is alright now and he can go play. Oh ,and be sure to kiss it! There was a time when each of my kids would stop crying instantly as soon as my kiss touched the boo boo...even times when I knew it had to still hurt. They believed the kiss was a magical boo boo healer. (How I miss that! It was the sweetest thing ever!)

Wrong way: Acting like every minor bump and scrape is a life threatening injury. Be sure to tell your husband, and anybody else who will listen, loudly, dramatically, and in front of your child, several times, how he could have been seriously injured or died when he stubbed his toe at school, or Timmy hit him on the playground. Ask your child several times per hour, for the rest of the day, how his scraped knee feels, and do not let him resume normal activities even after he asks to go play again. Go to the doctor every single time he has a wound that scrapes or breaks the skin.

Wrong way: Laughing at him or ignoring his pain.

Marypoppin'pills said...

Excellent post, Mom. And your 100% correct.
First, let me say that a good friend of mine with two kids has one child that can hear fine, and the other is completely Deaf.

The one that can hear is quick to cry out when he is hurt because he's used to his Mom saying, "Oh honey, are you o.k.?" in a very sympathetic voice.
The other child, who is Deaf, has never heard his Mom's reaction to injury, so when he gets hurt, he usually shrugs it off .... unless of course it's a real injury that would cause any hearing person real pain.

Now, my situation. My son had a rough beginning, so I was extremely sympathetic to any injury he had. Not quite as bad as the stubbed toe, but not too far from it. So anytime he got hurt I was right there, "Oh honey, are you o.k.?" And of course whenever my son got hurt, it's almost like I would see him look at me real quick before he'd even have a reaction .... so, this told me that I had to work on this. I was concerned I would turn my kid into a hypochondriac, because it was getting to where he'd complain about every little thing.

Like I said, I've made mistakes, so it was time I started working on this one. I sat him down and had a little talk with him, and I was completely honest with him, and explained that I may have gone overboard. He (smart little kid that he is) - said he "liked all the attention he got from all his boo-boos".
Yeah, I figured as much, lol.
Anyway, I asked him if he could start being a big boy now, and if he's really hurt, I want to know ... but that he needed to calm down on all of the whining and complaining for every little thing.

It's been several weeks, and it has come almost full circle. We also implemented the Physician's Pain Scale, where on a scale of 1-10, you pick a number describing how much you're in pain.
I told my son's Pediatrician and she thought it was brilliant, explaining that when they use it on young patients, they find that they are really honest when picking a number for their pain.
It's working very well for us, and he is no where near as whiny when he gets hurt now!

nanny said...

I still don't know why I am trying to defend her.... but Mom: just as some parents react in your wrong way #1, they can also react in the wrong way #2. I didn't say she was right... I was just hoping that maybe, just maybe, it was less than torture.

UmassSlytherin said...

From the way OP describes this situation, it made me feel just cold all over. I feel for these kids. They are so very lucky to have such a sweet nanny who shows them such love and kindness. I can't for the life of me, though, think of any advice for OP. She really is in a tough spot. I agree that one should not "flip out" when a child is injured but rather should deal with the situation calmly so as not to upset the child any further. But what this woman acts like, her behavior just sounds so off and not right. And OP only used simple language and described exactly what happened, this post was written so honestly that it makes me feel so bad for the kids. It really does sound like this mom has issues that need to be adressed.

UmassSlytherin said...

and mpp so glad that idea is working out, it was brilliant. you are a great mom! :)

Marypoppin'pills said...

You are sweet, Umass. I can only try my best, right? :)

Marissa M. said...

This woman sounds a little creepy to me. Is it not usually the mom who is "over responsive"?

I respond by an "oopsie daisy" when it's a fall or bump of some kind. Pretty soon the kids (toddler age) say the same and little bumps are not over reacted on. Though I never blow it off. I try to make it better. I give hugs and kisses. Blow on it. Ask if they are OK or if and where it hurts.

I think the scale of pain is a great idea. I might have to steal that one.

I would have no problem telling mom that's not funny and I would purchase non-stinging ointments an just say: Let's not use a product that hurts when we have child friendly ones. That's uneccesary.

mom said...

MPP...we've all learned by trial and error with our kids, so don't feel bad. What you came up with is great. I love the 1 to 10 scale. I am going to use that with my daughter, as she is at that early teenage girl stage where she is a bundle of minor physical complaints. (Seems all the little girls are falling apart at the seams at about age 13. Coincidence? I think not.) I try to give her a bit of sympathy, but then move on without dwelling, because I have seen other friends with girls this age who move on to full blown hypochondria when they get a bunch of attention for their various and fleeting ails. A few weeks ago we were all eating dinner and my daughter piped in with something like, "I have a headache," or "My side hurts," one of the usual....and I said "I'm sorry to hear that. Let me know if it still hurts in the morning." Then our former conversation resumed. My husband said, very sarcastically, "Wow. What an amazing display of sympathy!" right in front of my daughter. (She makes 99% of her complaints directly to me.) Everybody laughed and I repeated to my daughter that I wanted to know if it still hurt in the morning, and then said to my husband that I would discuss it with him later. Out of my daughter's presence I informed him that she has at least two completely random complaints per day of a physical nature and that I was trying to let her know I am listening, and care, but also trying to avoid giving her a lot of attention/reinforcement for being perpetually infirm. It's a fine line for sure. And teenagers always feel maligned and misunderstood the line is pretty much invisible. I think this is why kids are born as babies...'cause who would voluntarily birth a teenager!!! Heheeee

MPP, the picture you once posted of your little boy showed a very sweet, innocent little guy...probably very quiet, compliant and well mannered...wanting to please...and I'll bet he wouldn't hurt a fly, right? Something in his eyes made me think he is much like my second son. And that is the one I have said here that I had a really hard time NOT defending on the playground. He would never fight back and so I was always watching him like a hawk. My other son and my daughter...they held their own just fine. More than once I found myself running across the sand to his rescue...all the while wondering if I was going to make it even worse on him in the long run. Where is the line between letting your kind hearted, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly child get the crap beat out of him and turning him into a wuss? I'm happy to say that he eventually grew out of that phase and learned to take care of himself. I am also happy to say that he is nice and easy going enough that he hasn't really had too much occasion to do so.

I do have one friend who STILL continues to do all of the "don'ts" I mentioned in my post above...even though her child is 18. She even interferes with the high school as to what they do in athletics if she doesn't think it is right for her boy. And guess what? Most of the other kids don't really care to be with him. That's really sad for him...and kind of unfair, since the kid didn't really ever have a chance. He STILL falls on the floor and pretends to be in agony wth some fake injury if they do any exercises that are too hard for him...or if he makes a bad play...or for any other reason that he deems appropriate. He will wail things like, "My kidney, My kidney!," or "My heart! My heart!" because when he was little, whenever he would get hurt, his mother would exaggerate whatever it was into a near death experience and talk about it endlessly...mentioning specifically the organ that might now be permanently damaged as a result. (She was the inspiration for my post, actually.)

Good for you MPP for looking at the bigger picture as soon as you noticed a pattern of behavior you didn't think was going to benefit your little guy in the long run...and finding a way to include your son in the solution. I think your little guy is going to be just great!

Metronanny said...

Just a thought.

I react terribly when someone gets injured. I laugh.
I also have the urge to laugh hysterically at funerals and whenever bad news is given.

My doctor suggested therapy and I learned it is a coping mechanism for the brain. I've learned to control it but it's still a problem for me.

mom said...

I considered that as a possibility (which I mentioned above.) But later as I thought about it (because this has happened to me two or three times and it is horrifying when it does, I realized that it does not prevent a person who might have this happen from picking the child up, apologizing for the inappropriate response to his injury, comforting him, and cleaning his wound as delicately and painlessly as possible. Even if she somehow couldn't control the laughter, she has complete control over her behavior.
What's with pouring alcohol on it! My kids are older, and even when they were little we had things to use that didn't burn like alcohol would. I can only imagine how easy it is to find a painless disinfectant nowadays.

No, there is someting sadistic about this mom.

mom said...
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mom said...


Marypoppin'pills said...

That happens a lot with you Mom! LOL

mom said...

Well, in my defense...tonight it didn't look like it was working, so I clicked a couple of times. Actually, I htink we're lucky it didn't psot 4 or 5 times!

The other day...I have to claim oblivious.

Marypoppin'pills said...

That's o.k. Mom, you know I'm just teasing! :)
Sometimes I wonder if it's not some kind of glitch. There's actually been quite a few double posts tonite.

UmassSlytherin said...

I wish people would come to my blog and double post.

Marissa M. said...

Not that I think it's related to the moms behavior but I am so happy to hear to hear that I'm not the only one who laughs when someone falls or something minor.

My husband just doesn't get it. I think it started in high school when I fell down 7 steps or so and my best friend burst out in laughter. I did too and ever since that's been my response.

Anyways. It's good to know other people laugh too at minor stupid acts.

Mom of the post though needs someone to throw alcohol all over her next bloody knee scrapes. What a mean person. Maybe she does it to get revenge for their behavior which would be pretty pathetic.

LindaLou said...

i show my kids sympathy when they are really hurt. i do try and wait for some cue from them before i intervene. a lot of times, kids will fall down, then pop right back up, unphased. i try to treat the kids the way i would want to be treated. if i hurt myself, i don't want my husband trying to manipulate me in to a different response or acting dismissive. i don't think that's any way to treat someone. so far, none of my three complain about ailments that don't exist or over act for sympathy. i'm always impressed at the empathy they show when a playmate gets hurt. i don't think parents need to do anything to try and control these situations. an honest and empathetic response isn't going ruin a kid.

To the mom of the teen: said...

I was a sick teen. Always had stomach aches, joint pain, fatigue, etc. My parents thought I was stressed, had anxiety, overtired. Whatever. But they also clearly didn't always believe me that it hurt as bad as it did. Even doctors thought nothing was wrong. At 23 I was diagnosed with Crohns disease. I don't blame my parents for believing my doctors over me. But I know they still feel guilty for dismissing my complaints in an attempt to not make me a hypochondriac. It is a fine line and please tread carefully. Many chronic illnesses show up in the teen years.

mom said...

I hear you! Believe me, the last thing I would want to do is ignore a truly sick child.

But there is also a fine line, as this is also typical behavior for young teenage girls. At PE time, there is a line of girls standing in front of the teacher claiming they can't run because of knee, ankle, headache, pms, etc. pain. probably half the class actually.

My daughter wanted a note to get out of running in PE every single day because of knee pain...and even borrowed my knee support to wear....but after school, when I would say, "Does your knee hurt so badly that we ought to skip karate?" she NEVER ONCE accepted my offer to stay home and rest. Why? Because she LOVES karate and HATES to run. And karate is far harder on the knees than running.
Odd that that knee bothered her only between 2:00 and 3:00pm every single weekday...hehehe.

Too many mornings she was too sick to go to school, but then well enough to get up and eat an entire pizza and watch a movie a couple of hour later.

So I stopped letting her stay home on mornings when she was suddenly sick out of the blue. Oddly and coincidentally enough, she began mentioning on occasion, just before bedtime, that she was feeling ill. Having been a teen girl myself once, I mentioned to her that I sometimes did that to my mom at her age after she had caught on to the fake sick in the morning thing. A sly smile spraead across her face and I said, "That's what I thought."

This summer, my daughter was retelling a story of how I made her go to school when she was really sick one morning, and she had to be sent home that afternoon because she got a fever at school. She was feeling most victimized, until I said, "Well, how was I supposed to know it was for real when you had already faked being sick a dozen times?" She was unable to hide her guilty smile and said, "Yeah, I guess you're right."

I'm telling you, teens are a challenge...and a mystery.

Someday my daughter will have a job, and I don't want her to be one of those people who calls in sick with a hangnail. I want her to learn to distinguish between a real problem and a small ache and behave accordingly.

I think the biggest problem, especially for teen girls, is how brutal teen girls are to one another. Junior high is an emotional misery for most of them. Frankly, I don't blame them for wanting to just stay home and avoid the entire three year ordeal...but again, we have to learn to deal with life...not hide from it. I have seen my daughter really grow through all of this and am so proud of how strong she has become.

I think I am going to try MPPs approach and just tell her that I have trouble assessing her various complaints because they are so frequent, and that I need her to filter the minor ones out and give me a number from one to ten on the ones she thinks I need to do something about.

kathleencares said...

There is definitely something strange about this mom's behavior. From the way you describe it, it sounds like she loves her kids (she tells them she loves them, hugs and kisses them, etc), but it does sound like she has a bit of a sadistic streak. Like you said, she is the mom so there really isn't much you can do. It sounds like you are really loving and comforting, which is great – the kids need that! I would just continue to be those things to the children and let the mom be as she is.

Kelsey said...

This woman is sick and she'll only get worse over time. I'd suggest that you place an anonymous call to social services and tell them what goes on. They'll probably check on the boys to make sure that they're okay and give the mom a warning. Couldn't hurt to try..

gabriela said...

kelsey, you seem very sweet.

i cannot believe how many times on this site i will read:

"call cps"

"leave a note for dfacs"

or something else. i feel bad for the kids, too, but everyone that leaves these comments must be SO SHELTERED from real life that you have no idea what true, earth-shattering abuse can be like.

perhaps its my callous southern upbringing talking here, but..

while i understand the empathy for these children (i love children, too!) it seems a bit out of control to start calling a government organization every time you see someone call their child fat in public or fail to react as you would to a skinned knee.

Hmmm... said...


How would the mom react if an adult received a minor injury or had a pain? Have you ever seen her be empathetic towards a friend or anyone? Is she different to her kids when other moms are around?

Think about these things and let us know. Because the mom could have a real mental problem and you never know what she could do.

Anonymous said...
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