Advice please!(23 Posts)
My partner (S) is an amazing dad to a gorgeous 2 year old (L). He and I have been together for just over 1 year and all three of us spend lots of time together at the weekend. My partner works full time but has almost sole custody (the mother has had a few issues in the past i.e drugs) and I work full time but we do not live together.
The issue is that L keeps expressing 'disapproval' when S and I show affection towards each other... For example, when we kiss (a peck) she gets angry and says "no!" or "stop it!" She always protests whenever we hug, hold hands, kiss etc. We're not talking full on making on it front of her, just little signals that we're a couple. It never used to be a problem, but as she's getting older and becoming more vocal, she is definitely expressing a negative attitude towards these gestures between S and I.
Apart from these little tantrums, she and I have a good relationship; we're playful and she is comfortable with me.
What do we do? It seems as though it's just a little jealousy - as if I'm an intruder to her daddy-daughter unit and pinching some of daddy's affection. I feel that she's too young to explain herself, so there would be little use in talking to her/ asking her to explain why she is upset. Do we just continue to demonstrate our affection and reassure her that we both love her too?
My DD was like this when I met my DP she was around 1.6 and that was year ago now but we carried on because it was never in your face just if we were out for a walk and she was toddling ahead and we'd hold hands shed notice and want to hold my hand instead which I always did or shed hold both of ours and want a swing which was fine so she still knew she was important and didn't feel pushed out and now she doesn't even notice
My kids do too...and they are 12 and 6. they live with me full time, see their dad once a week if lucky, and if my partner (who doesn't live with us) and I are affectionate with each other, there used to be alot of moaning and sulking about it all. So we save it for when kids are in bed, or on the rare occasion we don't have them....so they get to sit next to me on the sofa, hold my hand when we are out together...if that's what they want....it's kind of how it has to be, and what's comfortable for them and clearly what they need at the moment. I'd just hold fire on all the affection and hand holding until when she's not about until she gets more settled, then you may well find it will creep back in with less issue, that's what we've found anyway x
I don't think this is particularly a step-issue, tbh; lots of DCs about this age will react in a similar way when their parents show physical affection towards each other.
Thank you for your replies!
InNeedOfaNap - it seems in your case that your DD wanted affection from both of you, but in my case, she becomes quite hostile towards me. I would love to just cuddle her and hold her hand and give her lots of kisses of reassurance but she gets very possessive of her dad and tries to cut me out...
Fiddle - How do you act when all of you are together? You just don't hold hands or anything? Isn't that hard? Seems a shame to 'hide' your relationship...
Peruvian - Interesting... I was assuming that my issue was because I'm not her actual mother and she sees me as an 'outsider'?
My 4.5ds does this - we get him to join in and we have 3 way hugs and kisses. He seems happy with this.
bumble if you check out the toddler parenting boards, you'll see it's quite common; toddlers launching themselves at one parent in rage because the other has dared to kiss them or hold their hand, pushing them apart if they're cuddling, getting upset at displays of affection.
Not unusual at all!
Peruvian - do you not think it's because I'm not her 'real' mother...? It sounds like you're saying it's common for a toddler to get angry at parents (as in birth parents) and I was under the impression that my DD is hostile in these situations because I'm not her 'real' mother so how dare I have this kind of relationship with her dad...? Am I wrong?
Thanks to all who have replied. x
We have this too, my DS (almost 2) gets a bit stroppy if DH and I show affection, he shoves me away to get Daddy's attention. So not a step thing at all, just a fairly common phase of toddlerdom
Reassuring her you both love her will be enough and I'm sure she will grow out of it soon enough.
I think you're beng too hard on yourself and that this behaviour is common of many toddlers.
It's easy to attribute every little thing to "not being her mum" - but in a lot of cases, it'll be "because she's a toddler" and the relationship won't make a difference.
If it helps, I've seen jealous, egocentric toddlers hitting out at their grandmas for daring to give grandad a kiss goodbye.....
It might be a step- issue, but to be honest, I think it's far more likely to be a typical toddler stage.
Actually, when I was discussing this with my partner, he pointed out that L also gets angry when he gives his mum a hug! He said "L has to learn that it's okay for me to kiss my girlfriend and hug my mum!"
Thank you for the reassurance!! But how shall I handle it? S thinks that we should just continue to be affectionate in front of L so that she gets used to it and I think I agree (although her reaction can be hurtful... maybe less so now that you have all reassured me that her reaction is normal.)
But Fiddle seems to be taking the opposite route and downplaying the relationship in front of the kids...
How do we proceed?
I have a 19 month old who gets very angry if I dare to cuddle anyone but her! If I'm cuddling my 4 year old and she spots it, she will scream and launch herself at me. I don't stop cuddling my 4 year old, I just include the baby in the hug too. Same for my DH, DS6 etc. Sharing is part and parcel of family life..affection included!
I agree it's probably nothing to do with you being a 'step'. I'd just include her in the hug or do as another poster said and swing her between the two of you.
We'll we do just that, we down play it...I can still be affectionate, a look, touching his arm...I don't feel inhibited in anyway...but I've made sue that if the kids want to be next to me on the sofa, when we are out walking and we are holding hands, that we let them do that...and it's what makes them happy.
Incidentally, they moan about my ex's wife a lot, and the fact she's always interfering in their time with their dad....so it's def a kid thing...in my eyes, my kids have been through a lot of upheaval, ex had long affair then left and married her....and has been in and out the kids life....I'm the solid one in their life, and I guess that they need that reassurance a bit more than other kids maybe. Which is why they find it hard...that's how I view it anway. It's not upset me or partner in anyway, but we did have a conscious discussion about it.
Thank you for your advice crossroads. This is how we both naturally respond, by including her, but the problem is that she just pushes me away. I go to give her a kiss to but she will run away from me, she refuses to hold my hand, she screams and cries and won't talk to me... She's fine with her dad, but she physically cuts me out. So if I try to kiss her, it makes it worse and she screams more/ gets angrier. That's why I don't know whether to push it or not?? It's awful being in a cafe or a shop and have her screaming, I don't want to make it worse but I don't want to just 'leave it as that'...
What everyone has said before about this being normal 2 yo behaviour, I agree with..
And at that age, they are so cute and interactive it's natural to want to get in on the affection... But also girls are very cunning and love people to want them and love playing hard to get !! My 2 yo is the same towards me me/my partner/other siblings, she picks and chooses.
I guess she has a very tight bond with her dad. And a need to show you he belongs to her, cos he's all she's got.
But dont be upset.. Take a step back and play at her game, maybe she'll come running to you for some affection
My 16-month old DD is pretty much surgically attached to me, but there are times when only Papa exists, and woe betide me if I attempt to join their cuddle (she loves it when we pick her up and include her in ours, though, even if she was mad that we were cuddling in the first place). I accept and understand all this as a normal part of her development. Not a problem. However, I also have a DSD who was just 1 when I met DH. We never had this particular issue with her, but we had plenty of others - things which I now see as normal development (or just the way DSD is, because actually much of her development has not been standard), but which at the time I blamed on the 'step' situation. I see now that I gave myself far more to worry about than was necessary - and in any case, I don't think a child of that age is capable of thinking, 'hmmm, mummy and daddy should be together, but instead daddy's with this woman, and I'm going to make sure I keep her out of it'. I know it feels like that's what they're thinking sometimes. Try to relax and enjoy your contact with this lovely little person. There are definite benefits to coming into a DSC's life so early - DSD is totally clear about who her mum is (she does try to call me 'mummy' occasionally, but I think that's more because she doesn't want DD to have something she's not got ; I give her a hug and tell her I love her, but she only has one mum), but I have a bond with her (and with her brother, 18 months older) that I just don't have with their older sister (11), although we get on well.
My stepdaughter reacts like this and she's 15!!
This is normal for a toddler. My DD was like this at that age when I showed any affection for her father or brother. 'No, my mummy' was a regular cry.
I suggest carrying on with your DP as you do now. When she objects he just tells her that he loves her and can still hold hands etc with you. Don't worry about a physical affectionate relationship with her, let her take things at her pace.
Agree with PPs. My DD is 18 months old and is my DP's DD. Bit she gets jealous if DP and I hug or kiss.
Yes sorry I do understand... but my own toddler does that. They are too young to see - if you could tone it down for a while - ease her into it?
I actually tone down any kissing/cuddling even with my teenage step daughters - just out of consideration. Not cut it out completely - just keep it more private.
I think your DP has the right idea. My advice would be to carry on regardless. It is good for children to see the adults in their lives showing affection and they all need to learn to share!
As long as you still give her plenty of kisses and cuddles so she doesn't feel left out there is no reason for you to hide your relationship like its a guilty secret.
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