Group therapy: Should I protect my daughter or tell her to toughen up?

How much pain do you let your kids experience?


My husband and I have VERY different ideas when it comes to letting our kids experience pain.

This summer my daughter had a pretty tough bullying experience at her day camp. And while I let her attend three weeks of camp – the last two of which chipped away  relentlessly at her self esteem and then made the decision to send her to a different camp – my husband was vehemently opposed to my decision to let her come home.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Honey (I always preface every conversation in which I know I will be attempting to get on his good graces by addressing him as ‘Honey’)  our daughter has morphed into a sullen depressed middle aged woman, taking to her bed each day after camp. That spark and excitement she had about the summer – has all but dimmed. I really feel like the best possible thing would be to take her out of this situation.”

The Sugar Daddy: “Our daughter needs to learn to adjust to a bad situation. Not all situations are going to be ideal. She has to grow a thicker skin and adjust and make the best of things.”

Me: “But HONEY, this is the summer – she has eight weeks to just be, to enjoy, to be a kid, to be free and well, she seems like a prisoner of war as opposed to a happy go lucky camper. This camp situation is literally sucking the lifeblood from her. She is saying she CAN’T wait for camp to be over. THIS IS NOT the way her summer is supposed to play out – NOT under my watch.”

The Sugar Daddy: “Prisoner of WAR? I can’t say I agree this camp is on par with prison.”

Me: “YOU are a man. You cannot begin to fathom the way little girls can be to one another, how insidious and harmful their chatter can be – and how it can break a little girl’s spirit. Boys are not the same – or at least as far as I can tell, our son has never had any kind of emotional turmoil from other boys on this level.”

Do you and your partner disagree?

The Sugar Daddy: “She should stay and stick it out. It will strengthen her character and help her to see that the world is not always this shiny place. That life is hard and you will need to adjust to your environment and sometimes be uncomfortable.”

Me: “This was a no-win situation for us. These 11 year old girls could get a slap on the wrist – but their words, whether in hushed tones or via texts would likely continue. There is only so much adults can do to stem this type of virulent bullying bad-girl behavior – sometimes you just have to get them out.”

“Our girl just doesn’t have the type personality to withstand such kids – she is too weak and gentle. She’s not learned yet that sometimes you will need to be a CATTY BITCH to survive and honestly I’m not so sure I even want her to internalize that message just yet. Not at 11 years old.”

I could go on and on with our sparring because it has now been one week and a day since we rescued our daughter from camp and while I have seen her old self reemerge since then, my husband still feels I made a mistake.

So I put it to you dear readers… what would you have done?

Melissa Chapman is the chief blogger at Married My Sugar Daddy, which you can find here.
Any advice for Melissa? How much pain do you think kids should experience? How much pain did your parents let you experience?