I read Sarah Fader’s post “3 Year-Olds Are Assholes”.

I cannot get it out of my head.

Me at 3. Kinda looks like I am up to no good.

Me at 3. Kinda looks like I am up to no good.  Interesting bang choice.

Not because of the profanity.  I think it’s a little boring after a while, and I don’t exactly understand why so many mommy bloggers seem to need it.  But it’s a free country.

Not because I’m shocked that someone would think of their child in that way.  Turns out that Sarah Fader was not the first author to write that 3 year olds can act like assholes.  Ray Ray did it in August.   Scary Mommy did it very successfully.  Google it.  You will see others as well.

Not because I disagree with her theoretically.  My own maternal experience and talking with parents for 25 years would tend to support her theory.  3 can be an age of uproar.  Lots of curiosity and pushing back.  And that’s if things are going well.

I couldn’t quite get what was irking me until I watched the author’s interview on AOL.  In that interview, Ms. Fader answers her critics by saying that the piece was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.  Comedy.  She talks about how much she loves her children, and how funny it was when they poured something very flour-y all over the TV while she was checking her email.


Okay, she’s letting us know she can be laid back.  I am sure she does love her kids.

It was when she said these words that I knew what I had to write about.  “Oh, they know what they were doing” – referencing their asshole-like behavior.  She states that most  parents think it.   “You are an asshole”.

I wanted in on the action. Looks like I was on my brother Spencer's team.

I wanted in on the action. Looks like I was on my brother Spencer’s team.  Or I was stealing his stuff while he was otherwise occupied.

I cringed.  I hope for the good of all 3 year-olds out there, that’s not true.

This is why.

Children are deeply attuned to whether or not they have your acceptance.

What you think about them or their behavior – how you label it – will affect the way you look at them, the way you discipline them, the way you touch them.  If you think of them as an asshole, you are likely to treat them like an asshole.

And just how do you treat the assholes in your life?

You can argue that it’s only a thought.  And it’s funny.

It’s simply not helpful.  It can very easily turn into little Jimmy misbehaving at the grocery store, and out pops, “Stop that, you little asshole”.  A line has been crossed.  Once crossed, much easier to cross again.

I know parenthood is difficult.  I know children can be extraordinarily hard, especially if the “fit” between parent and child isn’t an easy one.  I recognize and appreciate that moms and dads these days are talking about how rough it can be.  The myth of parenting looking like a breeze is over.

Laughing about it together, even the occasional “asshole” commentary with other parents — great by me.

But be careful.  That kind of thinking can very easily become entrenched.

Attributing aggressive or manipulative motivation to children when they are just doing what children do – learning what children need to learn – can be harmful.  Discipline, guide, laugh, cry.  Whatever.

Today, I watched my 3 year old nephew jab his 1 year old sister. Several times. With no warning.  And there was one really good head butt. Bam. She cried. He looked blasé. “You are doing something I don’t like and I’m doing something about it.”

I don’t think he’s an asshole He is three. Parental intervention occurred. All is well.

Be careful, please, what you think.


You can now listen to Dr. Margaret on her new podcast, SelfWork With Dr. Margaret. Each podcast features a different topic, and you can listen while you’re driving or walking – at your leisure! Just click here!

Author note: Ms. Fader and I have become friends, having talked with each other about her post and my reaction. She is the founder of “StigmaFighters”, a great site where people write their stories of having mental illness. She is doing fantastic work!

You can hear more about mental health and many other topics by listening to my podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to my website and receive one weekly newsletter including my weekly blog post and podcast! If you’d like to join my FaceBook closed group, then click here and answer the membership questions! Welcome!

My new book entitled Perfectly Hidden Depression has arrived and you can order here! Its message is specifically for those with a struggle with strong perfectionism which acts to mask underlying emotional pain. But the many self-help techniques described can be used by everyone who chooses to begin to address emotions long hidden away that are clouding and sabotaging your current life.

And there’s a new way to send me a message! You can record by clicking below and ask your question or make a comment. You’ll have 90 seconds to do so and that time goes quickly. By recording, you’re giving SelfWork (and me) permission to use your voice on the podcast. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap