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Building on a Step-Parent/Step-Child Relationship

(12 Posts)
getyourfingeroutyournose Thu 10-Mar-16 01:39:08

DP has been in our life since DS was over 1 (probably closer to two) and is a good SD. But they push each others buttons. I think DS (4 yrs) is trying to push at DP to see if he leaves like EXDP (DS dad) did.

What can I do to encourage a good relationship?

DP supports us financially and we all live together but even I have noticed that DP favours the family cat over spending time with DS. It may be because the cat can't have a tantrum over anything but I think I'm fair in saying he needs to be prepared to deal with that side of it if he is to continue to be in a relationship with me.

Cabrinha Thu 10-Mar-16 07:45:06

Of course it's fair.
I'm not sure that your son 'pushing buttons' is a sign of complex emotional behaviour pushing because his dad left. Not at this age, with his dad gone so long and this man being around so long. I think it's just a 4yo being 4. And your boyfriend's lack of involvement thing could just be cos he's a lazy dick and he'd be the same with his own child.

Time to stop being financially dependent on him, so you have options.

Cabrinha Thu 10-Mar-16 07:45:52

Not sure why you say he's a good SD in the same post as saying he'd rather spend time with a cat though hmm

Lostandlonely1979 Thu 10-Mar-16 11:14:20

I am a SM and if it helps, I sometimes get scared that SD doesn't like me and would always just rather be with her DM. So I can tend to shrink away a bit, which is stupid and I have to very quickly have a word with myself. Bottom line is the adult should be doing the leading and your partner needs to start working ASAP to build a relationship. It might be rocky at first but your DS needs stability and love, so your partner needs to be working as hard as he can to provide that in partnership with you. That's what you sign up for when you date someone with children and if you can't do it, you need to be outta there.

I've just been reading the step thread and its opening my eyes even more to the importance of my role in SD's life. I love that girl to bits but I need to work harder, too.

Lostandlonely1979 Thu 10-Mar-16 11:15:58

Sorry didn't offer any actual suggestions for activities! It's stereotypical but SD and I sometimes go shopping together, leaving my 2 DDs with DH. Is there a 'Laddy' actitivy they could do together? I think Just kicking a ball about at the park would be amazing for your DS.

QuiteLikely5 Thu 10-Mar-16 11:23:06

I think after all this time there should be a strong enough attachment and relationship pattern established between them?

On a lighter note I too would (at times) prefer animals to my children!! grin

getyourfingeroutyournose Thu 10-Mar-16 11:50:12

Obviously it's not all as black and white as "my son argues with him so he must be a terrible SD". I do get defensive of my son a fair amount with him but feel sometimes that I'm only doing that because I'm overly scared my son will hate him if SD tells him off too much.
Lostandlonely, I think I feel the same as you even though I'm not a SM or even the SD. I'm scared he'll favour his own DF (the dreaded present giver who only bothers to see him every few months if I force him). I would like my son to have a relationship with DF but at the same time, I fear he's going to let him down as royally as he did when DS was 1 (left for months with no contact and saying he never wanted a kid, returned once saying he wanted another baby and left again when he didn't get what he wanted and then returned when DP came onto the scene).
I think ultimately I feel guilty that my son is stuck with a blended family and my only experience of that is where the parents just pretend the kids don't exist.
I love my boy more than anything but I don't want to avoid telling him off where it's due just in case he hates his SD for dishing it out. And I do need SD to dish it out if I don't see it.
I also now wondering if this is my issue and perhaps I just don't trust DP enough with it?

Lostandlonely1979 Thu 10-Mar-16 12:00:16

It might help you and DP to attend a few counselling sessions together so that you can figure out how to parent DS together. I know exactly what you mean - step situations are rarely black and white and there are an awful lot of feelings for everyone to process.

I think the best thing I've done for my SD is show her (gently but firmly) where the boundaries are - with DH firmly on my side. Ball kicking and shopping trips are lovely for bonding with our lovely steppies, but they need to be in addition to solid parenting and firm house rules. Especially for my SD who doesn't have boundaries at all with her DM.

Your DS is probably picking up on your wobbles about DP's attitude so it's crucial that you both get on the same parenting page PDQ. DS will love you both for it. I wish you a tonne of luck!

Lostandlonely1979 Thu 10-Mar-16 12:02:19

Oh and FWIW, I think a great SD can more than make up for a crappy, absent, lazy dad. Your exP needs to start proving himself or DS will make up his own mind about whether he wants to bother with him when he's older. and if he has a great relationship with his SD, that's going to pay off megabucks at that point!

getyourfingeroutyournose Thu 10-Mar-16 12:41:22

Thanks so much Lost.

We've had the counselling suggested before when I did a child behaviour course the woman who ran it suggested that it sounded like DS wash pushing DP away to see if he would walk like exP did. I did talk to DP about this and we agreed on how to handle his behaviour but it gets lost a lot because the routes we chose were based on ignoring bad behaviour (as the course told us to) and that's far easier said than done when a 4 year old thinks its hilarious to whip you round the face with his hoodie sleeves and throw things at people -.-

I don't hold out much hope of exP proving himself. He's always been far to self invested which is why I put so much into trying to make this work for DS because he needs a dad. He often refers to DP as Daddy-DP (his name where dp is) and then just calls exP by his actual name. He does love exP but he cries a lot over his leaving. I've always tried my best to show I'm there but I think he wants what other kids around him have and I'm certain DP can provide that (and he says he wants to).

We'll definitely try the counselling route, if not maybe another parenting/child behaviour class so we can both learn and implement it rather than just me.

I do want to get married and have another child in the future (loooong way off for us financially) but I want what we have to be solid first before we introduce anything else to the mix. I get that DS will be a kid though and he's often going to push boundaries and occasionally be a butthead but I want to make sure he realises he has a loving family at home too.

Lostandlonely1979 Thu 10-Mar-16 12:57:25

Haha yeah kids are butt heads whatever's going on! I don't think ignoring bad behaviour is necessarily the right route as he might see it as his cry for attention being ignored. You sound so caring and sensible, and waiting to expand the family is an extremely wise decision.

I don't know your DS obvs but it sounds like what he needs is clear boundaries and a lot of love. A tricky balance to strike on even the best of days!

Maybe see if you can find some books on the topic? I think counselling might be more fruitful that parenting classes as you're working with some deep rooted issues, not just bringing behaviour into line. Sounds like communication is probably the key here and your DP will probably welcome you trying to help. He could well be feeling a bit 'spare' if you get what I mean. Which he shouldn't be using as an excuse to hide but then men aren't always emotionally aware enough. Counselling might help him to realise what's making him pull away.

I really hope you can find a bit more harmony. You're doing the right thing by looking for answers and it'll work, it'll just take time flowers

getyourfingeroutyournose Thu 10-Mar-16 13:36:58

Yes, emotionally aware isn't how I would describe DP. He's not very good at emotions when it comes to other people lol. I definitely think counselling is the best route then and maybe it can sort us all out in the long run.

Thank you so much . I'll definitely be taking this all on board. I just have to corner DP and get him to put some time aside for counselling now.

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