Advice re DD age 3.5 & bf - step parenting(31 Posts)
1st time poster. Forgive me if I'm rambling.
Some background info ...
My bf & I are staying together part time & are looking to move in together.
My Xbf & I broke up before my DD was born so it's always been the two of us. There has been barely any contact with her Dad over the last 8 months.
Since my bf has been staying more, he has taken on a parenting role which I am more than happy with. My daughter says she loves him & seems to follow him around everywhere. Most of the time everything is great.
My DD can be a challenge at times (doesn't listen to bf, bully's her cousins - winds them up on purpose to get them in trouble/called my bf 16yo brother fat cause he wouldn't do as she told him, greedy - will eat more than an adult if allowed, attention seeking - pees herself on purpose.
My bf is the strict one out of us two. He feels I don't support him & stand united against my DD. We agree on how a child should be raised but when it comes to it I make excuses for DD's behaviour & feel bad that DD is getting a row. Maybe because i'm not used to seeing someone else discipline her? We end up arguing about how DD is behaving. He shouts/I cry.
We need advice/tips on how to co-parent. Am I being unsupportive of him or is he too strict? Is this a challenge of parenting as a couple or is it the pressure of DD's behaviour?
All advice/stories from past experience welcome. Thanks in advance!
This is going to seem a bit harsh but......
You have a young child who is rude, obnoxious and wees herself on purpose??? You say you are not used to seeing someone else discipline her but how do you discipline her when these things happen?
There are very mixed feelings toward letting step parents discipline kids and it depends on how it is done but I take the stand that I expect my step kids to act in a certain way, they know my expectations (basic stuff like saying please and thanks) and they know if they are rude then there are consequences to their actions. Likewise my son knows how my hubby ( who is probably stricter in some areas) expects him to behave and if he disrespects hubby he again will be pulled up on it.
mine are a fair bit older, youngest dss is nearly 9 but since we moved in together we have been consistent in our boundaries and tbh if he did not support me with his kids i wouldnt have wanted them round here and likewise if i hadnt backed him with my ds then i think he prob would have ran a mile.
Dont get me wrong, its tough and not always easy but it is our home and we all have a right to be happy and respected in our own home-kids included and if they didnt know boundaries how could be expected to stick to them.
How old is your dd?
This is one of things to be discussed before moving in as you both need to understand the expectations of the other, however, in this case it does seem as though your dds behaviour is quiet extreme, have you struggled to cope with her behaviour? To be honest that looks like your biggest problem to start with.
Honestly, i'm desperate for advice. Anything to help move forward.
My DD seems well behaved. Says please & thank you. Very confident & chatty. Well spoken. Always complimented on how much of an angel she is.
It's like I've never noticed everything she does for attention & he has now pointed this out. Finding it hard to deal with as I always thought I was quite clear with my boundaries & didn't take any crap.
DD has a bullying nature & seems to act out when we're not with her. For example, DD, 6yo & 2.5yo cousins were playing with a ball in the hall, we were in the living room. DD keeps taking ball from younger cousin until he hits out of frustration. Cousin gets into trouble. Queue attention for DD to make sure she's okay.
I thought the wetting was an accident but bf insists its for attention. Makes sense as she's been toilet trained day & night for over a year.
If she were to misbehave I would use the naughty step. At times it doesn't really bother DD.
Bf suggested she go to her room until DD is ready to say sorry. We tried that but DD was so stubborn, stood in the same spot for over 40mins, refused to say sorry. We've tried taking away her fav toy - she cried but continued to misbehave. Taken out all her soft toys from her room. Even a smack (always said I wouldn't smack but at the end of my tether) :-(
The more we discipline her, the worse she gets. I feel like she's constantly getting a row some days & think this can't be right, surely we must be doing something wrong as parents?
dreams DD is 3.5 years. She is quite advanced for her age & seems a year or two older.
I wouldn't say I have struggled before. Didn't really notice this before he pointed it out. Sounds terrible but true.
Some of the issues are new (didn't happen before I'd met bf - lying has been happening for a couple months, wetting has been within the last two weeks. DD seems to be getting progressively worse.
Bullying nature is a very strong thing to say. Kids of that age will tussle over toys all the time, and maybe as an only child she has to learn about sharing, while the 2 yr old is probably used to having to stand his ground against the 6 yr old. Really sounds like normal kid stuff and certainly not worth a major punishment.
You also sound as if you are not confident in your own parenting and are deferring to the bf - that must be confusing for DD. Has bf got his own DC?
So until this bloke came along to helpfully point out all the ways your dd is shit, you would have considered her to be a perfectly normal child?
How long have you been together?
Stop, love sometimes we need to step back. Right your first post made your dd sound a little ott but your second is more measured. Your dd sounds no worse then a lot of children, she's polite and you discipline, and she can be naughty just like most children, so I doubt you doing anything wrong really.
He may be stricter but he's going to have to stand back a little, I don't think he can wade in and discipline and tell you what your doing in wrong. You need to be strong and talk together your boundaries for your children (does he have any?) but he needs to take the lead from you. He can't come into a relationship and become the disciplinarian, that would be unfair on your dd, but of course if you want him to parent then he will want and need a say, it's all about communication between you and him.
Blending a amly takes time and is not easy but, there is a poster called Notadisneymum and I know she can recommend some books and courses I think that she's read/been on, hopefully she'll rock up soon for you.
As for the bed wetting, it could be for attention, could be stress and worry with the changes going on in her life, remember having a new partner moving in is a massive thing for a child, which is why he needs to take baby steps with her.
alonglongway she is an only child but has spent a lot of time with other kids - multiple cousins, regularly playdates, nursery, attended Playgroup before that.
The bullying nature are my bf's words. I am normally a confident parent. I've done it myself since DD was born but you're right - I am deferring to my bf. He notices behaviour which I probably wouldn't have or I put it down to DD being 3. He thinks she is advanced so should understand. Sometimes I think his expectations of DD are too high.
Sorry, 3.5?! I thought she was 6' Blimey she's little, of course she's going to wet herself, it's not attention, it's an accident, again with saying she bullies, come on she little and learning.
Listen your the parent, you know your little dd, he doesn't. He sounds lets say a little too enthusiastic at pointing out your wrongs in parenting, that would concern me tbh.
It sounds like your DD is just fine. Your DP's attitude is more than a little worrying. I'd step right back from living together in your shoes as it's likely to only get worse.
Forgot to say, bf doesn't have any kids of his own. His 2 nephews (2 & 6) spend most days at his place if he's not staying at mine.
mcballs DR used to have major meltdowns/tantrums quite regularly. I'd literally have to put her in another room & let her cry it out. This would happen over the smallest of things. Usually of DD wasn't getting her own way. This has majorly improved since bf & I have been together. Both family & nursery have commented on her improvement,
We've been together 7 months.
dreamsturntogolddust when I say wetting, I mean she would stand & pee herself in front of you. Make no effort to even go to the toilet, with a look of triumph!
Got to go out, will be back later. Appreciate all advice.
Back, I'm sorry but your dd has had a big change in her life with your partner moving in, my DS is 4 and sometimes he wets himself too, I think you are expecting far too much of her. You shouldn't tell her off for wetting at this age, just ignore and change her, she'll get the message quite quickly.
Sorry but u and your bf are being nreasonable she is only 3 and is learning
Maybe with a complete change of how you punish her is confusing especially the smack
Parent on your own and don't involve your bf
Thank you all, will keep you updated :-)
this is my first post but I was moved by your description of your DD and when you say "The more we discipline her, the worse she gets." based on my own experience of being a child / being parented (am new mum so can't / wouldn't speak from that! ) it sounds as though your DD is asking you for attention the only way she knows how and by responding with discipline you might be getting stuck in a bit of a negative cycle? children can find it hard to even know how they're feeling let alone say / explain - actually adults too! perhaps she is feeling a bit insecure or hurt? (and I wouldn't think this your fault! we all as people need a little more love now and then for reasons we don't understand well, or help adjusting to change).
I think it's really ok for kids to get the attention and love they are saying they need, within reason, and so would suggest that (espesh as she's so little) you try giving her more affection and attention? - extra cuddles, lots of nice time together, verbal reassurance. talk about changes with DP and how she will always be your best girl. of course you should also be able to let her know when her behaviour is not ok - agree beforehand with DP how you will respond to incidents like provocative wetting and maybe couple consistent, predictable discipline (naughty step) with positive action to try to give her more options the next time she feels that way (perhaps you could work with DD to establish pathways for her to get attention eg asking you for mummy time).
also I would just say be careful of rapidly escalating discipline (ie naughty step, taking toys away). this might make her feel more insecure? and also like a 'naughty child' who has nothing to lose behaving that way. my instinct would be to progress more gently eg more time on naughty step. also you could reward good behaviour? (eg playing nicely and she can choose what you have for tea, or do some baking, you'll take her to park - whatever she woud enjoy).
then if it works, great, and if not you have probably created a safer space to discipline her more progressively in. hopefully your DP will be happy to get behind you if you have a plan and boundaries. ask him for some time (a month?) to work together and see if she responds.
sorry, a bit of a ramble and essay, but hope my perspective is helpful in some way as you work out what you want to do. DD sounds like normal, bright little girl who wants to be treated like she's 3 and feel secure. you sound like a loving mama who is feeling unable to act on your instincts because of (understandable) desire for harmony with DP / making space for his views. that is admirable but you are momma bear and must be able to say what is ok and what not. DD will also respond better to this as it is familiar. if he is a decent bloke he should be open to that view (try to find time to talk and plan when you / he are not frazzled by recent strop from DD?)
anyway good luck, you sound lovely xoxo
Sorry but this behaviour sounds horrendous!
That is the behaviour of your bf!
He sounds like a total bully, who is bullying your DD, and undermining yourself confidence as a mother.
She is 3.5, accidents are normal and common even in year R and year 1 children at school. A child of this age having a melt down, should never be shut in a another room to cry it out; unless you are doing this as otherwise you would lose it and harm them.
Please protect your DD from this man. Find a local parenting class and learn more about good parenting. Maybe even do the Freedom Programme to find out why you seem drawn to such men.
You've been together 7 months?
She's only 3.5.
My DP & I have been together since I was pg (she's not his). He used to be over 2/3 nights a week. We didn't move in together till 7 years later (wanted to take it slow).
When dd was 3.5 DP was still mummy's boyfriend who came over and had fun with her. The only time he ever had to enter into the discipline arena is if she was playing us off against each other (I can't think of any specific examples) -say we'd need to be united- and it was ALWAYS me who took the lead. He could have opinions (they rarely disagreed with mine anyway), but he looked to me to lead.
Once we moved in together, when dd was 7, it was only then that for example he took on some of the child care (school runs and the occasional saturday that I work), it was only then that he started having proper participation in her discipline. It still feels like it's me who has the last word though -DP & i hardly ever differ but if we did, there's no way in hell I'd allow him to discipline or treat her in a way I disagree with. (I'd find that difficult even if he was her real father actually!) And it was dd who chose to call him her 'stepfather'.
IMO your boyfriend needs to BACK OFF and let you be the parent, because he is NOT her parent. Not yet. How dare he throw his weight around like that 7 months into a relationship?! That's how I feel, anyway.
OK I'm going to write this as I see it - no pleasantries. Not trying to upset you OP, but really, come ON: your DD is only 3 years old. She is not a bully Your boyfriend's assessment of her is awful, mean, and frankly it makes him sound manipulative and jealous.
You say that it's always been just you and your DD until now .... so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to explain why she's behaving the way she is! She's attention seeking, yes, but have you thought about why?? Poor kid is probably missing her one-on-one time with you and, being only 3 years old, is unable to articulate this and is behaving in the only way she knows how in over to get your attention: i.e. badly.
Your DD sounds normal. Please address why you're prepared to listen to your boyfriend's assessment of a child he hardly knows. And then start listening to your DD instead.
Oh, and forget all this "she's advanced" nonsense. She is a 3-year-old child; she is unable to behave in the way an older child would, regardless of how many words she can read or how early she crawled/walked etc.
Oh oh oh, and I believe you about the deliberate wetting herself. It's the only way she can get your attention.
7 months seems early on in the relationship for your bf to be playing such a major role in parenting your DD. I've been going out with my bf for 9 months and we're taking things pretty slowly in terms of integration with my DC. They have met but I can't imagine him disciplining them - that isn't his role.
Maybe leave the moving in plans for a while and think hard about how you want the relationship to go on from here - both yours with your bf, yours with your DD and the relationship between all three of you,
I wouldn't say I have struggled before. Didn't really notice this before he pointed it out.
Maybe it isn't true then.
Some of the issues are new (didn't happen before I'd met bf - lying has been happening for a couple months, wetting has been within the last two weeks. DD seems to be getting progressively worse.
if your dd is getting worse and worse, then that could well be because she is stressed and unhappy. None of her behaviour sounds abnormal or awful to me; your bf gets so angry at her that he shouts at you and says she is a bully/attention-seeker. You need to get some perspective on this, and come back to your child's needs. Your bf sounds horrible, and not at all suited to being a step-parent. And it is far too early for you to be talking about him as her parent.
I agree with everything MrsMcEroe wrote.
Please reconsider moving in with this man. He sounds like a really nasty person and a threat to your DD wellbeing.
Thank you for all constructive advice.
When I say advanced, I mean her speech is similar to a 5 year old & she is beyond capable of communcating such as asking for Mummy time etc.
I was asking for advice on how to control my unruly toddler who i am more than aware will be upset she no longer has constant 1 to 1 time with myself. I'm sure this is a common problem for most kids & a new person in their life whether that be a new baby or adult.
I was not asking to be judged on the duration of my relationship or my choice to move in with my bf. I gave the info that I thought was relevant & didn't feel the need to justify how loving my bf is to my daughter.
To update, we are working with a reward chart. We have agreed on "house rules". Each day a pass on a rule = a sticker. Full stickers = a fun activity with myself which DD chose (eg dressing up, painting) & finally a full week of stickers = an activity for the 3 of us to do (eg cinema, swimming, zoo etc)
Thank you sanityseeker75 I believe I do need to back my partner up. I was the one who chose for my bf to be a "parent" type figure, he didn't not push for this.
After some reflection, I do think the behaviour became worse around the time contact was started with My Xbf. DD didnt see him for 6 months after allegations of abuse. Visitation was slow & under supervision of his Mum. This has since stopped because DD was wetting herself & they weren't changing DD. The wetting/behaviour has progressively got worse since then.
that sounds really positive, Fatty. good also that you have some idea of why she might be acting out (hope visitation with ex BF has been stopped?! )
best of luck!
also - thinking - new info about xBF possible abuse makes me even more certain that what she is asking for is love and reassurance. would try to be gentle with her even when disciplining if poss.
OK so, even though I don't really go in for the reward/punishment thing, when dd was 2 we were having battles every day, always around something I needed her to do- change nappy, get dressed, put coat on.... in the end I gave in to a sticker chart, if she got all the stickers or a certain proportion of them (I've forgotten which) each day she got a chocolate at the end of the day. It worked wonders, I have to say, and transformed our relationship, the battles diminished and dd loved the sticker chart (and the chocolates! ). So, sticker chart is a good start.
BUT, sorry to burst your bubble and i'm not sure if i'm reading too much into this, but I feel really uncomfortable about the reward for the stickers being your time or something fun with you/the three of you. You should be doing that anyway, not rewarding her behaviour with your time . It could also get confusing, because if you are planning on doing those sorts of fun stuff anyway (I hope you are/do!!), it'll be too confusing! If you aren't doing those sorts of things already, why not? and if not I think if you start spending that sort of time with her it'll go towards helping solve the problem anyway without even using stickers! For the sticker chart, I'd think of a different, specific reward and factor in that fun time regardless.
Sorry to hear about the ex-BF, that sounds awful . Your assessment of some of her behaviour being connected to that might well be true. Do still keep an eye for relations between her and your bf though, I still maintain that something's not right, or at the very least a little rushed, there. And let yourself be the judge of what's going on for your little girl, not him! Nobody knows dd as well as I do, and i'd imagine the same goes for you and your dd!
Just because a child is advanced in one way, it does not mean that they have developed at an equal rate in all areas.
My DS1 is 10. Academically he is working at a 14/15yo's level. But when it comes to the emotional side of things, he reacts just like any other 10yo boy.
Just because she has the SPEECH of a 5yo, it does not mean that she can manage her emotions in the same way as a 5yo. She is 3.5yo. Treat her as such. Stop putting such pressure on her to behave like a 5yo when she is only 3.
Thought it would be nice to update :-)
We are good. I've got much better at supporting my BF on his role as a step-parent. My DD has adjusted to having him around & dotes on him. We've increased our activities seperately (DD & I) & as a family.
Thank you all for your advice :-)
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