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Ask Rene: My Daughter’s Teasing Backfired In A BIG Way! Help!

Ask Rene:
My Daughter’s Teasing Backfired In A BIG Way! Help!

Dear Rene,

I have two daughters, Zoie 12 and Clarice 14. 

The two girls look nothing alike. One has dark hair while the other is blond. Zoie is short and stout and Clarice is tall with a model’s body. And while they are both cute in their own way, Zoie has always wished she looked more like her sister, but more importantly she cannot understand why they look so different. It’s funny how genes work, Zoie looks a lot like my grandmother and Clarice looks a lot like me.

One day the girls were arguing – they fight all the time – and Clarice told Zoie the reason she doesn’t look like me or her father is because she is adopted.  Zoie is devastated and believes that we’ve been keeping this secret from her. I explained to my daughter that she’s not adopted and Clarice was just being mean but Zoie refuses to believe us. Clarice even confessed to the prank, but Zoie is still convinced that she is adopted.

Rene, how do I turn this bad joke around and convince Zoie that she is not adopted? And what should I say to my other daughter?


Patty, Miami

Hi Patty:

Oh I hate this, not the part about being adopted rather the fact that Clarice seized on something Zoie was already insecure about. Zoie knows she looks different from the rest of the family and even though logically she knows she’s your biological child, there’s an irrational side that probably takes hold every so often and makes her wonder. So here’s my recommendation:

3. Time To Put The Hammer Down

Image 3 of 3

Sit both of the girls down (I would do this together) and talk about how to fight fair. Notice I didn’t say how NOT to fight; they are 12 and 14-year-old siblings, that’s sort of a given. But there is a way to gently tease and then there’s going for the jugular. This teasing about being adopted was mean-spirited and meant to draw blood since Clarice was seizing on a subject that Zoie was already insecure about. That is not good.

Then I’d talk to the girls separately. To Zoie, I’d underscore the beauty and power of learning how to ignore people. Zoie needs to understand that Clarice says that stuff to get a rise out of her and as soon as it stops being effective (Zoie stops reacting) it won’t be “fun” for Clarice anymore and she’ll eventually quit.

For Clarice, I’d tell her through my clenched teeth, if she teased Zoie about being adopted EVER again, I’ll put her on lockdown until it’s time for her to go to college. Hey, you asked!

Good Luck mommy!

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(Editor's note: This piece ran in its original format on 5/18/2011)

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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