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10 Ways Having A Toddler Is Like Being In An Abusive Relationship

By Naomi Odes |

Angry FuzzToddlers. Those puzzling little creatures. Cute as buttons, but underneath? Trouble.

Seriously, having a toddler is fantastic and fun and amazing…sometimes. But other times it can make you want to put your head in a vice and crank and crank and CRANK!

Sometimes it’s hard to remember good parts when your toddler is screaming “MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of his lungs while simultaneously writhing on the floor.

I’ve put together a ridiculously cute slideshow of toddlers looking so precious, while revealing 10 of the ways they remind me of being in an abusive relationship.

***DISCLAIMER- This post is not intended to make fun of abusive relationships. I fully understand this is a serious topic and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This post is only intended to help parents of toddlers laugh a little.

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10 Ways Having A Toddler Is Like Being In An Abusive Relationship

I find myself apologizing profusely for doing things "wrong"

Whether I made the "mistake" of putting the toothpaste on my toddler's toothbrush for him, or I walked through the door before he doesn't matter. I screwed up.
Photo credit: Flickr, Makelessnoise

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About Naomi Odes


Naomi Odes

Naomi Odes Aytur is a blogger who's contributed on the parenting channel of Babble. She chronicles her experiences of being a new mom on her personal website, I Am Still Awake. Read bio and latest posts → Read Naomi's latest posts →

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45 thoughts on “10 Ways Having A Toddler Is Like Being In An Abusive Relationship

  1. Danielle says:

    Ha ha! I can relate to some of these, but fortunately I have girls and there seems to be less biting and smacking. Although, I’m sure some girls do this. But, the screaming, whining and grunting to get what they want…drives me bonkers.

  2. Vegetable Gardener, Cook, Homesteader, Miser, Homeschool mama says:

    Yes, I can relate! It’s good to remember you aren’t dealing with an adult!

  3. Alyssa says:

    My bloody lip from my 18 month old agrees!

  4. zchamu says:

    Hey, I guess I need to cop to having no sense of humour. I realize you put a disclaimer, but I don’t really find a comparison to abuse funny at all; I find comparisons to things like hiding injuries or violence/affection cycle very insensitive and minimizing. I realize you mean it as a joke and don’t intend any harm. I also think there are things that aren’t appropriate to joke about.

  5. Jessica says:

    The very first one, putting the toothpaste on for him or going through the door first. I have done both, and the resulting meltdowns were enough to make me want to get my tubes tied!

  6. Noelle says:

    Even with the disclaimer, I think this is in poor taste.

  7. Annie @ PhD in Parenting says:

    This is absolutely in poor taste. I think it minimizes and trivializes domestic abuse. I also think that it unfairly demonizes toddlers. Yes, being a parent is hard. But it isn’t abuse. If it is, get help.

  8. G says:

    Having been in an abusive relationship, I think I am a better judge than a PhD of whether or not this is funny. Get the broomstick out of your hoity toity chair before you sit in it and maybe you’ll be able to smile a little, thereby giving you the ability to laugh (publicly) at something a little off color! This is a great (and unoffensive) piece. Thank you for making my day.

    1. Naomi says:

      @G it really helps to hear from a person who can find the humor in this and has also been in an abusive relationship. Thank you so much for your comment.

  9. Sarah says:

    Note: Babble is a supportive, diverse community. We encourage a range of opinions,but any unduly hostile comments will be removed. <- Love this. Alright what about hostile articles?
    I've survived an abusive relationship. I now am married to an amazing loving man and have a beautiful daughter. I wouldn't ever compare these two times of my life. I have a great sense of humor but this is plain rude and uncalled for.

    1. Naomi says:

      @Sarah, @Annie @ Noelle, @zchamu and anyone else who can’t find the humor in this piece, I’m very sorry for that, and again I had no intention of belittling anyone’s experience in an abusive relationship or making fun of abusive relationships whatsoever.

      My sense of humor is dark, and that’s how I write. I can’t apologize for that. I appreciate your comments and hope you’ll continue to read posts by me and others on Babble regardless of what you think of this one.

      Thanks to all that have chimed in who enjoyed the piece and can relate: @G, @ Danielle, @Jessica, @Alyssa, @Vegetable Gardener et al.

  10. Jackie says:

    People are way too uptight. Very funny article.

  11. Stephanie S. says:

    If you need to write a disclaimer, you probably shouldn’t write the piece. You knew that though, that’s why you had the disclaimer. That aside, I was really expecting the piece to be funny, and it just wasn’t >.<. Instead, I just feel bad for the parent who can relate to all of that.

  12. Kick me says:

    i though it was cute.

  13. Anna says:

    As I sit here holding ice on my fat flip from the head butt my toddler gave me this morning, I found myself chuckling through all of these. Thank you for the the reminder not to take ourselves too seriously!

  14. J says:

    It was relatively funny yes, and if you are overly sensitive, don’t read it. How about that? It’s not rocket science, even for housewives. Instead of whining ‘abusive relationships are nothing to joke about,’ if you are A: in one, get out of said relationship, or shut up, or B: not in one and thus have no idea what you are bitching about, see the last part of A.

  15. Tracy says:

    I think the difference is that toddlers are just being toddlers when they run up and head butt you in the crotch like my son just did (it doesn’t only hurt men you know!) and a grown man who purposely intends to inflict pain and control. I’ve never been in an abusive relationship so I will stand back and appreciate those who have had that nasty experience voice their opinions about whether or not they feel this article was in poor taste.
    That said – I have a sardonic sense of humor myself so I can separate the harsh from the funny – and this piece was intended to be funny whether you agree with it or not. I don’t think Larry the Cable Guy is even remotely funny – but I won’t tell others not to laugh. :)
    Just my 2 cents.

  16. Raven says:

    I am so sick of everyone being so sensitive. Perhaps those who have no sense of humor are the ones who need help, not parents who can relate. Having two toddlers of my own and one hell of a morning with them, I think this article is fantastic. Anyone who read the disclaimer and THEN felt compelled to read the article anyway just needed a place to whine. Thank you for making me laugh today!

  17. Ary says:

    I thought this was very funny! You know what’s sad, though? People saying that “if you need to put a disclaimer, you probably shouldn’t write it.” Well, so sorry, but if you don’t like it, don’t read it. If you’re that sensitive to non-PC topics, then once you get to the disclaimer, do everyone a favor and stop reading it. I figured out that it just *might* be offensive to some people just by reading the title. I enjoy dark humor and satire, so I find things like these funny. I find some types of humor and jokes ridiculous, so I choose not to read or watch them. But I certainly do not tell others not to watch it because I found it offensive/ridiculous /unfunny, and I definitely don’t chastise the writers for writing about their opinions.

  18. They are all grown, thank God! says:

    I have been in more than one abusive relationship (slow learner, survivor of toxic, alcoholic parents…what can I say???) and have also raised 3 children as a single mother (without hitting or alcohol) and I find this absolutely hysterical. Also right on…if I had not developed my sense of humor as a young person, I would porobably have committed suicide…so lighten up people! If you don’t like it, don’t read it!

  19. They are all grown, thank God! says:

    At least toddlers are cute and nap a lot…which is more than I can say for my 2 abusive exes….

  20. Glynis says:

    Those commenting on disliking this article because of the reference to abusive relationships need to realize that every (grown) person who is in an abusive relationship is there BY CHOICE. Yes, it is very hard to leave sometimes, and yes, many times there are huge financial hardships going ti alone, particularly if you have children to tend. And yes, there is a possibility you may have to split custody or visitation of those children. But still – Choice. You make the choice between this known evil or that unknown evil. And yes, I lived in an abusive marriage for years. Some of those years I didn’t realize what was wrong, but the latter part, I knew something was really askew, but I stayed – out of fear, finances, and for the kids. It had a terrible cost. But I HAVE to admit it was a choice. The ONLY people completely innocent or blameless in an abusive relationship are minor children – and only the young ones. Even older children can get help getting out, or even SPEAK OUT to authorities. (Yes, a risk, I know.)

  21. Shanna says:

    This made me laugh so hard! I have totally, totally felt every one of these!!

  22. leslieann43 says:

    I found this article wierd. It seems like it is way to desperate to be funny. The author may have thought she had come on a good idea for a funny article but missed by a mile. She should have bypassed this poor excuse and thought a little longer.

  23. Lisa says:

    This is very poor taste.

  24. BrandySinger says:

    Democrats don’t like something and want to take away a person’s right to watch/experience something for themselves. Republicans don’t like something and change the channel.

    You don’t like it, don’t read it! But DON’T be telling other people not to write something like that – a lotta people like Stephen King and a lotta people don’t, but he made a lotta money writing novels that I don’t much care for, but would not take away someone else’s pleasure in reading them.

    So DON’T be telling somebody she shouldn’t be writing an article like this – that it’s disrespectful to abused wives/mothers. I was one of those too, but I found this article refreshing in its honesty…my toddler son was constantly hitting me and arguing with me, and my four-year-old daughter would answer a question with a question (which, as an adult, she still does today!!)

    If you don’t like something, change the channel – don’t get the program removed from the TV lineup just because YOU don’t like it – how controlling a personality is THAT!! Remember, in this country we are free to choose for ourselves and our children. Stop being so bossy and lighten up!!

    So there ya go.

    1. Naomi says:

      @BrandySinger – nicely put and deep gratitude to you.

  25. Jay Noff says:

    The article was funny. I have grown kids now…but the analogy was spot-on. Thanks for it!

  26. Meghan says:

    I don’t think that people that are offended by this are lacking in a sense of humor. I find this to be very offensive. Would you make fun of child abuse or sexual abuse?

    1. Naomi says:

      @Meghan – in my opinion, child abuse is a completely different league. Although abuse in any form is completely not cool, like one of the other commenters suggested, two adults in an abusive relationship are still two adults and both are there by choice (however difficult it is to leave).

      and I’m sure that many comedians (although not me) will take a stab at making fun of the recent child abuse news. Some may even be successful.

  27. Tara says:

    If you can’t laugh at a bad situation, then you’ve lost an amazing gift. Humor was a gift from God to help alleviate stressful situations. If this article didn’t do anything else, maybe it opened one person’s eye enough to realize that her situation is abusive. I know it certainly gave some worn out toddler mommy’s a grin, at least.

  28. sarah says:

    with all the negativity i just wanted to say that i thought it was cute. mine is just turning into a toddler, so i need to arm myself with some humor. (btw i lost a friend to domestic violence, and i’m not offended.)

  29. Pan says:

    Yeah, because being terrified to leave because of threat of more severe beatings or death is TOTALLY free choice right? Not being able to get out because you have no money, no job, and no support system means that you must really secretly want to be there. Sticking with a guy who makes you feel like you’re dirt between the treads of his shoes because he’s told you every day that you’re nothing without him is completely free will.
    Sounds like you’re not only ignoring the fact that having kids is a CHOICE, but it seems like you’re still blaming yourself for being stuck with an abusive person.

  30. kindmachine says:

    It’s bizarre and amusing how so many of you are so upset at being called out for laughing at domestic violence. How you all reach for your pathetic “oh, don’t be so sensitive,” and “stop being so PC!” cards.

    Here’s the thing: you’re all indignant and sulky because you’re forced to realise you’re laughing at a piss-poor excuse for humour using an analogy between toddlers throwing fits and grown men BEATING WOMEN AND VERY OFTEN KILLING THEM. Oh, yes, hahaha, doesn’t get funnier than that, does it? The physical and psychological abuse of human beings is just ~too hilarious!~

    @J : HOLY MOLY. Who knew being able to laugh at shoddy crap like this was so important to you? Also, LOL ignorance.

    @Naomi : how’s that internalised misogyny working out for you?

  31. Kamla says:

    Been in an abusive relationship have ya? When your partner cuts open his arms with a cup he smashed on a door frame, then holds it to your throat – maybe then we’ll talk eh?

    Go back to being a parent with the billions of other parents in the world. It’s nothing special.

    And if this is too hostile – oh well. I’m feeling hostile.

  32. betsy says:

    @kamla: i see where you’re coming from, but your anger and rage seem a little misplaced here. this is meant in jest. i don’t think the author was implying that taking care of a toddler is akin to having a piece of glass held at your throat. and i think if you had just a bit more perspective, you’d see that.
    @kindmachine: i know you’re coming from a good place, but man, i encourage you to go get a good massage or have a glass of wine or three.

  33. Kamla says:

    ‘A bit more perspective.’

    I’d love to not dignify your patronising little reply with a response, but sadly, I AM full of rage – at the man who manipulated me when I was a young adult, who raped me and various other fun things. I’m also full of rage toward articles like this. Believe me, Betsy, I’m well aware of metaphor and humour. Unfortunately, I don’t find this particular metaphor humourous in the slightest. Abuse and rape need to be treated with dignity and respect, and the women who live through these experiences deserve the same. This article, despite a fluffy little disclaimer, provides neither.

  34. Aly says:

    I won’t say that this is offensive or that people shouldn’t read this, but this article does strike me as just odd. I’m not a parent, nor do I ever intend to be, but I have watched five nieces and nephews go through their toddler stages. I have also been in an abusive relationship. I just don’t think parenting a toddler and an abusive relationship can be compared, even as a joke. Apples to oranges, you know? Toddlers don’t know what they’re doing. An abusive adult does. Therein lies the key.

    Like I said — not particularly offensive to me, but really not that humorous, either.

  35. kimberly says:

    you r so right about so many thing u just said. oh the drinking part. kids r in bed i should clean up for the night and go to sleep too. but ill have few beers first. hahaha. lol thanks so much for sharing that was laughing the hole time, very cute pics.

  36. Stephanie Gray says:

    That was very funny. For those that didnt enjoy it, oh well thats your opinion and you are entitled to it but all the negative comments, change the channel if you dont like what your seeing.

  37. Elizabeth says:

    O M G. Laughed till I peed!!! I went out tonight to races with my (formerly abusive, now in counseling) boyfriend & my 2 year old daughter. Theres a bottle of rum in my purse. He has smacked me then gone for my boobs, so have my kids. LMAO they all got at least a 7 out of 10 on the checklist. THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. kmw says:

    wow people lighten up…I’ve experienced this with two of my children and will soon again. It’s comical. People are such babies anymore. Seriously sounds like the toddlers man up more than most of you complaining.

  39. Kashfa says:

    100% correct

  40. katie says:

    I guess I am ‘overly sensitive” because joking about abuse is not funny. Every year people DIE as result of abuse-I have been in an abusive relationship and I assure you it is NOT funny…it is devastating…..I realize people will tell me to ‘lighten up’ and whatever…but…I won’t–not about this anyway…

  41. tamynco says:

    Geez guys seriously! There is more than 1 kind of humor out in this world but the way some of u r acting it seems like no matter what is said ur gonna run it down. If u had have read it properly u would have know that u were warned! And maybe some of u that haven’t moved on from whatever has happened or is happening put just a little more effort into either moving on or making others more aware of abusive relationships and what they can do, then maybe there wouldn’t such an issue here. But it seems 2 me that some people just want 2 jump right in and ‘abuse’ others just because its not to their taste. Isn’t it time 2 grow up?

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