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Advice for a Dad on 'blending' families - 3 yr old daughter.(12 Posts)
<Posting this on behalf of a man, would appreciate any advice...>
People who jointed two households (kids involved); need your experiences.
Probably a long read.
Been with my current GF for awhile, and the time has come when we are planning to move in together. This is a rational decision, and we have both thought it through long enough. Our concern is with our kids.
We did not introduce the kids until 8 months into our relationship. We took it very slow, and wanted to make sure her and I worked out first before the kids got involved.
My daughter (3 years old)
- very sharp. Comprehension is off the charts for being 3
- hyper, physical. Always wants to play
- very good kid, little behavior issues. Just normal toddler stuff
- attached to me, always wants 100% of my attention and to play with her. Not good at amusing herself (this is my fault for making her center of attention all the time I was single, and not promoting independence)
Her daughter (3 years old)
- acts more like 3 years old. Does not comprehend as highly as my kid.
- calmer, not into physical playing.
- sweet kid, very sensitive however. Feelings easily hurt and upset easily
- not as attached to her mother. More independent and can play by herself.
For months we have had the kids hanging out, playing, getting them used to each other. It started off well, minor speed bumps however over the last month my daughter has been regressing. She is not into playing with her as much, and is more attached to me while they are around. I've considered their "playing styles" are different, and my daughter lost interest in it, however she is displaying a lot of jealousy towards my GF. It was evident at first, then it went away after continued discussion with my daughter trying to explain things, but it has come back again the last 3-4 weeks.
Now there is an X-Factor. My daughter mother (whom I am on great terms with) also has a BF (who has 4 year old boy, not super behaved), and they got more serious the last month or so, and they moved in. They moved in very fast. I believe they have been dating 3 months, and their kids met within a month. I made it clear I was not pleased with this to my Ex. Ultimately her lease was up at the time, and she felt comfortable enough to move in. I did not know this was going on until afterwards, but that is different story. Now, her BFs kid is very wild, and undisciplined ( not the fathers fault, he's a good dude, but his ex has joint custody, and she is a terrible parent resulting in the behavior issue he is trying to fix)
So I am putting 2 and 2 together, and I am attributing my daughters behavior changes to being around the young boy. Because she has been abnormally hyper, and not as disciplined the last month or so. Trying to figure out how this is tying into the sudden attachment and jealousy with me however.
Back to subject at hand with moving in with my GF......Now to be clear, I'm well aware that this is A HUGE change for a young child, and their minds can't process what is going on yet. So we are prepared for some tough sledding here.
I'm looking for any advice or experiences to help getting the kiddos adjusted. We have been preparing for months and constantly talk to our own kids separately about sharing a household, ect ect. Ultimately we think we will just have to do the " sink or swim" method, and let them adjust and deal with the hardship and repair them as they come.
If her attachment regression is down to the big changes in her primary residence, having another child encroaching on the limelight with her other parent will cause her more distress. In the circumstances, now isn't the right time to introduce another big change to her life, she probably needs/ wants more attention from her father not more competition from another child.
Sorry but poor kid. I think you and your exwife should have had a discussion concerning this. Too late now but l think you need to slow down until your dd feels comfortable.
In my experience blended families can work but it's a lot of hard work at the start. She's gone from being an only to having to share both her parents.
I know this isn’t fair on you and your GF – you’ve tried to do everything right – but I do think that, now that your ex has jumped the gun and moved in with her new partner, that you need to wait a bit longer. Your DD is clearly very unsettled by all the change that’s going on around her and I think it would be better to wait for another year or so before she is sharing both her parents. I do sort of agree with you that, to some extent, you have to make the leap at some point and see how it goes but I think going from being an only child with lots of one on one time with both her parents to sharing both of them with other children the same age is something you need to allow a bit of extra time for.
A couple of questions – are you still spending some one on one time with your DD? If not, I think you need to. Is it possible for your GF to spend some time on her own with your DD? Not suggesting a lot of time but perhaps half an hour on the swings, just the two of them every now and then might help?
Are both the 3 year olds on 50/50 care with the other parent?
You could start by overlapping 1 day per week only, then increasing, but that would depend on the other parent agreeing to a schedule which moves until the exposure to the "step child" becomes more frequent.
In the end, the needs of the child will have to come before your relationship, or should do, sounds like you have enough concern that's exactly how it already is.
Many thanks for the replies so far folks, I'll show him the thread & get him to answer any questions.
Cath - I don't think he got much opportunity to discuss his ex's decision, (which is an issue in itself) but I'll ask him to clarify.
Hello All, I am the father that this thread was posted for..
Some information to answer questions.
1.) I extremely active in my daughters life. I have her 5 or 6 nights a week, and she sleeps at my home 90% of the time. Typically all day Saturday and Sunday as well. My daughter is the center my universe when I am with her, which is over 50% of the week. My Ex keeps her during the day, she works at night.
2.) My GFs child does not have a father in the picture. So she has 100% custody all the time.
3.) Ex's decision wasn't anything I could do about. It happened before I knew it was going on, and its done. So its not something that can change right now.
4.) We are not planning this move right now, but towards the end of the year. For reasons unrelated to the situation, we really need it to happen before Winter.
5.) I spend tons of time speaking and communicating with my daughter about all issues and new situations. I put her needs priority over everything.
I would also go for overlapping the 3yos on different days if possible. It of course means you don't get time alone with your GF but that is probably the best course for the immediate future. And spend quality time with your daughter without your GF too- if she sees that she is special to you- that she doesn't need to compete for your time, she will know she's not being side-lined and that you care for her primarily. Good luck.
Maybe worth just not discussing everything with a 3 year old? It might be a little too much discussion.
Will you have an exit plan in case it doesn't work? Too often a couple move in together and then find that to separate houses again is too tough so they are stuck together.
How long have you been together in a total?
Have you discussed parenting rules? How finances for children will be handled? If one has an activity, new bike etc how will that be handled? What space will you plan to have for each girl.They are only little now but wont be for long.Would they go to sane schools? Step dcs can have greater jealousy as it's harder to be fair when there is 1 parent on one side and 2 on another.Resources are not usually equal.
The key is not to rush it and try to ignore practical timetables, you need to work on emotional timetables.
dh's ex rushed her new bf into the house and it was terribly upsetting for the children.They experience more losses before they get gains.Often the parents are in loved up mode and think only of the benefits that they receive.
I think having two similar aged childreni be challenging as each of you will want to natutalky 'favour' their own child, be it discipline, treats or just affection.How you handle this will be important.
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