There are a lot of dads on Reddit, dads who think they know the answer and then end up screwing things up worse than they could have imagined. This dad is no exception.
Look, the coronavirus is here. It's a real concern. And this dad, who took to Reddit's "Am I the A-hole?" didn't think his 5-year-old daughter was washing her hands enough. It's a hard thing. Little kids probably don't get why they should all of a sudden be way more concerned about personal hygiene.
But instead of actually parenting his kid — you know, talking to her, actually using his words to explain things — he decided he wanted to teach her a lesson.
He explains that there have been a handful of cases on COVID-19, or the coronavirus, in his area, and he's concerned, which is very reasonable. Immunosuppressed people are the most at-risk to contract the illness, and even though little kids aren't contracting the disease at the rate of older people, obviously parents are still worried.
He writes that it doesn't seem like the government is taking enough measures to slow down the spread of the disease. In his household, he's been encouraging his own kids to wash their hands regularly. But, he writes, "my 5-year-old daughter isn't washing her hands enough."
He gives no other details. I don't know if she's resisting when he tells her to wash her hands or he just notices that she doesn't after using the bathroom or before meals or something.
But she's 5, and he's an adult who's in charge of her. You'd think he could just... make her wash her hands.
March her into the bathroom, turn on the sink, and watch her do it. Explain how serious this is. Be an adult, use his power as her father, a figure of authority. But that is, of course, not what he decided to do.
Instead, he "came up with the idea to throw out one of her dolls and tell her it died of the coronavirus." I couldn't roll my eyes fast enough. What a dramatic response that so clearly will not have the effect he thinks it will! I know that, and I'm not even a parent.
He writes, "She's pretty upset and my wife said it was a stupid thing to do." Uh. Yeah. Duh. He says he just wants to "limit the chances of us all catching the disease," especially since he works in a care home for the elderly.
His concerns are valid! His methods... not so much. And he was quickly branded the a-hole by commenters. "NEVER LIE TO YOUR KIDS," one person wrote. This is a big one! At 5, she's old enough to understand that there is a dangerous disease out there and that washing her hands will help keep it from spreading.
He could have talked to his daughter, but now, I can't imagine she'll listen to anything he says. I remember being a little girl who cared for dolls. I loved those things, and I would be so upset if they suddenly died. As one commenter wrote, "At 5 years old it's likely she'll be too upset to learn your 'lesson.'"
"There are MANY other ways you could have handled that," another person wrote. "Something like that is enough to traumatize a 5-year-old. You could have bought her a special soap or something to encourage her to use it. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT."
This seems like Parenting 101 stuff. You don't tell damaging lies to your kid. You're in charge. Make her wash her hands.
One commenter wrote, "This was manipulative and cruel and emotionally damaging. It's also a blatant lie. And you can't blame a 5-year-old for not washing her hands enough. She's 5. It's your job as a parent to see that she washes her hands, not just devastate her emotionally in the hope that she'll be so terrified she'll do it independently."
He realized he made a mistake, and in response to one comment, he wrote, "It seems I've made a huge mistake. She's been crying for some time now. What can I do about the doll? Can I 'bring it back to life'? Or should I just get her a new one?"
Give her the doll back. Apologize. Explain why you did what you did and how it was wrong and how parents make mistakes sometimes. Little kids may be little, but they're human beings, and they should be treated as such.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.