I have a 3-year-old, a 5-year-old and an 11-year-old who have just been the most exceptionally worst behaved children on this planet. Between the 3- and 5-year-olds, they backchat, break things, have drawn on walls, poo on walls, have urinated on bedroom floor, shout at me, are a nightmare in the mornings as get up at stupid o clock in the morning and with noise.

Then recently my 11-year-old is having violent outbursts, usually just when I am on my own and my husband was at work or his older siblings are out, they start from/over nothing, and he ends up being physical to my 3-year-old.

My oldest are 21, 19, 16... They had a few silly teen tantrums but on the whole are lovely young adults now...

I am due to have another baby in 6 weeks. Usually I do time out, and consequences and tell them about their unacceptable behaviour. I have the patience of a saint, but unfortunately lately I just can not cope anymore.

My husband left me yesterday as he can no longer cope with the children's behaviour, and my children just remain to misbehave...

My house is constant conflict and I just want to give up, but I can't, as I am a mum, and mums don't give up. And what's more, I now have to cope with all this on my own. I've never felt so internally miserable, desperate, invisible and now unloved so much in my life before. I miss my husband and not being together is not from falling out of love, because we love each other greatly, it is because of the children and their behaviour :(.

However, when the occasional good day happens, I beam with such joy for my children. I know it won't last forever, and they will grow up, but if I could tell you all of the things they do, all of the time it would make your toes curl. I would absolutely love some advice. As I feel so incredibly lonely and feel that my children are just too much.

  • 1
    Dear Katryn,I'm sorry to hear that you are in such a difficult situation! Did you already try to get professional help (family counselling/psychologist)? Maybe there are also other institutions which support families in difficult circumstances like yours - in which country do you live? If I understand correctly, you have also older children, were they also so "problematic" in their early years, or is it just the two younger ones? Did your husband really leave you ("just") because of the misbehaving children? That sounds quite strange to me and surely makes the situation unbearable for you. :-(
    – BBM
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 11:44
  • It really is bad .. It's also very sad. I love my family and feel utterly torn apart.. I have a baby due which is suppose to be a happy time, but everything is clouded with misery.. Why can't everything just be no conflict. My oldest are 21,19,16.. They had a few silly teen tantrums but on the whole are lovely young adults now.. It's mainly my 11 yr old..times are really hard, but I know they will not last forever x
    – Katryn
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 17:33
  • Hi Katryn, how are you and the kids?
    – BBM
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 9:14
  • I wondering that after having 6 children what makes you want another child! It is surprising that after having so many problems with 6 children you are willing to give birth to 7th child which you know will add burden to your single life! Commented May 20, 2015 at 8:57
  • Dear Katryn, it's now about 1 year ago that you asked this question. I would be happy to hear how you and your family are now? Did your situation get better in the meantime?
    – BBM
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


I empathize with you; this is a terrible place to be. Naturally you feel like a bad mother; your husband just left you citing he can't take the kids' misbehavior.

Also, in my experience, there is nothing like an 11 year old to make you wonder about your mothering skills.

Most women are the best mothers that they can be, and I'm pretty sure you fit into this group. We are not perfect, not one of us; we rely on learned behavior to raise our kids, which isn't - in hindsight - always the best. And your oldest are lovely. You've done a lot right.

You need help now, though, especially with the baby coming. A therapist can help you with your feelings. Seeing a marital therapist with your husband would be beneficial as well, if your husband is really just frustrated with the kids. I assume he is the father, and he could probably use some help too.

Finally, it sounds like your kids are a handful. Maybe what worked with the older ones isn't working with the younger ones. You can check some books out of the library on parenting and discipline, read about it here, etc. Kids will try to "get away with things"; it sounds like they don't respect or know your boundaries. For example, there is never a reason for an 11 year old to hurt a 3 year old. That should be a clear and respected boundary with significant consequences. Read about setting and enforcing boundaries in some parenting books. It can't hurt to discuss these things with your pediatrician, either. They might be able to recommend good books, good temporary measures, and good therapists for your own situation.

Finally, ask your therapist what their opinion is on family therapy. If they know some good ones, they might refer you.

I'm sorry to rely so much on therapists for your answer, but it sounds like this is a crisis point in your life, and in these times, we all need good help. Friends and family can help, but sometimes we need more professional advice. This might be one of those times.


as I already wrote in my comment, I feel with you and it seems that you are in a very difficult situation. Your question leaves many other questions open (surely in such a situation you will not have the time to describe your situation in detail and you maybe will also want to protect your privacy "out here", which is perfectly ok!)

anongoodnurse's answer already gives very good advice. I want to add the following points, as your difficult situation has many "layers" at the same time:

The "layers" of your question:

  • your younger children's behavior is to a good extent not "normal" which is a burden for you and your husband
  • it stresses you all so much that is has even made your husband leave you and his family
  • now after loosing your husband you have even less of the necessary support which you absolutely need
  • you're having another baby soon and so you need even more support with all the work to be done

So in my opinion the 2 key points are:

  • get help to "fix" the children's misbehavior to make the daily life "more fun" (sorry, if that might sound sarcastic in your context, it is not meant like that, but finally raising children - as much work as it is - should also be a positive experience, I wish you that it will change into that direction!!)

  • get your husband back as soon as possible
    (if you really love each other as you wrote here, there should be a way to make clear to him that now in this moment you need his support more than ever and that you both have to find a way to get your family back "on track")

Seek and get help and support!

  • You did not answer my question if you already got professional help from a therapist in the past or recently. You don't have to tell us if you don't want to, but you should definitely go for it NOW if you did not do it already!!

    1. A therapist who can help your children to change their behavior and help you to make them behave "well".
    2. A therapist/counsellor who can help you and your husband get back your loving relationship and take care of the large family together
  • Do you have people in your "social environment" who can help you with house work or taking care of the children - like relatives (grandparents, aunts/uncles, ...), friends, or neighbors?
    (I imagine that you will try to avoid to leave the misbehaving children with other people, or do they only behave like that at home - that might make things more difficult)?

  • are there social institutions who support families in difficult situations in your area?

    • this might heavily depend on the country/area you live in, but if there are such institutions (churches, social security offices, municipality), seek their help!!
    • often there are such services available and we forget that they exist and that we can "use" them

Find the root causes of the misbehavior

This would definitely be the main first goal of a therapy, but maybe you already have some ideas, why your younger children are misbehaving like that?

It seems that you raised the older three children without such extreme misbehavior as you describe it, so it's apparently not a "systematic" problem of your parenting style per se. For sure with such a large family you're already carrying a very heavy load for many many years now (depending on how much help you get with the house work) - even without all those problems.

  • Have there been any events which could have started/triggered the misbehavior of the younger ones?
    Some tantrums (or even many) might be normal at that age, but pooing or peeing on walls or floors etc. is a cause for concern in my (amateurish) opinion!!

  • One thing that struck me while reading was, that you "have the patience of a saint" . This might have worked with the older children when they were young, but siblings can be very different (I'm sure you know that), they can have a different temper and react very differently to the same situations. So might this be at least a part of the problem, that you are very calm and patient and the younger ones are trying to test and push their (and your) boundaries constantly?
    Is it possible that you would like to have everything calm, peaceful and harmonic and for some reason (which has to be found out -> therapist!!) the children unconsciously try to sabotage you, maybe as they feel that your time-outs and punishments are not "authentically you"?

I wish you all the best and I can only repeat my plea:

get professional help - instantly!!

  • 1
    Thank you for taking the time to answer me. Yes I have now asked for the help of anger management and education social to talk with my 11 yr old in school, so fingers crossed the root of the issues will be close to being found out soon, I've asked for it this way so that my child does not feel obligated to me should I be around him when he talks, as I may be the issue for him, so until we know, I can not help to improve the issue area(s).
    – Katryn
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 14:21
  • @Katryn: you're welcome [if you find answers useful, you can upvote them with the arrows on the left] and I wish you all the best and quick progress! Does this counselling also concern the younger children, or is this your next step?
    – BBM
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 19:23

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