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Stepdad Help!

(16 Posts)
CraigSwaddle Wed 09-Nov-16 15:17:23

Hi all,

First post on here, hope I can get some advice!

I've been with my partner now for the best part of 7 months, we live quite a distance apart (Newcastle and Carlisle) but when we see each other, it's usually for about a week at a time.

My partner has an amazing toddler, who will be 3 in December.

I know obviously this is still early days, but I was wondering from experience how long it took your toddlers to get used to your partner. She is happy calling me daddy, and she will sit with me and get cosy watching films, or play with me sometimes, if mum isn't around, but as soon as mum comes back, she goes straight for her. I can take her up to bed, and get her settled fine and things like that too.

Another thing which i've noticed is, if i'm trying to talk to the toddler asking what she's doing or if she's ok, to me, she will 9/10 answer "no", but to her mum/grandma, it's always yes, or she'll try and have a conversation with them.

Note to add, she hasn't had any contact with the biological father at all.

Any advice you could give would be great, I know she's a toddler, and it isn't personal, but quite honestly, it does hurt! haha

Thanks all!

Bahhhhhumbug Wed 09-Nov-16 15:33:11

Hi Craig , the only experience similar to this I have had is when I first met my now DH who regularly looked after his 2yr old DGD who were extremely close and she only had eyes for her granddad and little interest in me and in fact hated me hugging or kissing her DGF and would instantly leap between us and push me away.
I found the only thing that worked for me was stepping right back and letting her come to me. I asked my now DH to stop insisting she gave me a cuddle too when she was leaving etc unless she offered one.
I did however join in with games we all played together and would do things like spinning coins on the floor and so on that she would come over to me to investigate and I would show her how to do stuff then and built up a rapport with her gradually.
Eventually she came to me more and more on her own terms and we became very close and ten years on I consider her one of my DGCs.
Young children can be contrary little beings and sometimes if you are 'trying too hard' they pick up on it and steer away from you even more. I suppose it is a good thing in a way for them not to instantly trust a stranger and get close to them so I don't think we should try and do away with their natural initial shyness.
Hope that helps a bit. Best of luck you sound like a lovely partner and stepdad and I'm sure you will be very close one day, you have all the time in the world .

CraigSwaddle Wed 09-Nov-16 15:39:53

Hi Bahhhhhumbug! Thanks so much for your advice!

it's just one of those things really! She let's me bath her and stuff like that, my partner has told me, ordinarily if it was someone she didn't like, she'd scream the house down etc. She reassures me that it's her age, and she will act out and such until she realises what's actually happening and such, it's just reassuring to hear that i'm not the only one going through this!

Thanks so much!

Bahhhhhumbug Wed 09-Nov-16 15:52:54

Your welcome Good luck and at least you're interested a lot of partners aren't interested in someone's DCs or just play lip service to it. Yes me and my DstepGD grew very close within six months or so of me being there but playing it cool for want of a better expression ,but then I saw her regularly whereas you have more distance and less frequent time together so it may take longer.
Strange analogy I know but I used to train dogs and it actually works with dogs too , they respond better to someone letting them come to them and sniff their hands etc and only then give them a pat rather than walking straight over and looming over them and patting their head 'uninvited' Sorry , I said it was a strange analogy grin but it is based on the same theory.

SarcasmMode Wed 09-Nov-16 15:53:31

I don't mean to be rude but only 7 months in with only occasional visits sounds too soon to be calling you Daddy. What if you broke up and she met someone else?

I think time will cure most of your issues here. As she gets more used to you and gets older, the dynamic will change.

CraigSwaddle Wed 09-Nov-16 15:58:29

SarcasmMode, it wasn't any kind of implementation of ours, she picked it up herself and we didn't encourage it. But she saw other kids at nursery calling their fathers daddy and to her it made sense, every time she saw me or a photo of me, it would be "daddy".

I agree with the time part though, from what it was when I first met her, it's already moved on so much from there, i appreciate your honesty.

TheFormidableMrsC Wed 09-Nov-16 16:02:49

I appreciate you're trying really hard here and that's great...but why on earth are you allowing a very small child to call you "Daddy" 7 months into a relationship? I really don't think that's OK at all. It is far too early to know if you're going to last the course. My DD had a stepfather for 14 years, she called him by his name, never ever by anything else.

I agree with others, the relationship will grow in time. She needs consistency, routine and two stable adults. You really can't be "hurt" by a child that hardly knows you and has only known her mother in her day to day life. Take it slowly.

Good luck.

Bahhhhhumbug Wed 09-Nov-16 17:14:13

I know what you mean MrsC and Sarcasm but otoh the child's father isn't on the scene and never has been so it's not as bad as if she was in contact with her father or had some sort of relationship with him as that could be seen as treading on his toes. But it sounds like the little girl really wants someone to call 'daddy' and some couples can be pretty certain of their relationship very early on and is going to be long term (well as much as any of us can be). Also biological fathers can disappear from a child's life just as much as a stepdad can and it can and does happen for several reasons but we wouldn't dream of discouraging a child from calling them 'dad' just in case. It is a difficult one though but part of me thinks 'what's in a name?' She could love her stepdad and miss him just as much if they did split up whatever she called him in the meantime.

Ayeok Wed 09-Nov-16 17:17:57

My DS was 4 when I met DP, he liked him straightaway but it took a year or so before he really truly bonded with him. Like he would still come and ask me for things instead of DP or if he needed help it was me he asked. Now they're as close as father and son, although he doesn't call him dad (his choice we've never put any pressure either way) and he treats him the same as he does me.
I do think 7 months is very early for you to be "daddy", would you still be in her life if you and your partner separated? Not a criticism, just an observation.

Bahhhhhumbug Wed 09-Nov-16 17:44:46

yes I think that is very relevant aswell Ayeok. I asked my DSGD's 'real' grandparents if they minded her calling me 'Nana' once and their DGM said 'only if it's for good regardless what happens between my DD and your DS' So I thought fair enough and am still her 'Nana' even though my son and her mum split up years ago (not the same one as in my PP in case anyone's confused that was my DH's DGD)

swingofthings Wed 09-Nov-16 17:45:47

Toddlers are a bit like alien creatures, not easy to understand, however, most parents learn the language through every day contact. Your issue is that you have only seen her a very limited number of time, so you haven't really got the chance to know her. Then by the time you will, she will have changed her attitude again, because that's what kids do.

My advice is: don't try to interpret her words or actions and if you can, try to read on children psychology, because if you are already getting hurt by what you've described, you are in for quite a shock to come!

Just focus on being yourself and let time do its trick. You are not her father and I personally don't think it is a good idea that she should be calling you dad when you've known her for such a short time and you and her mum are not even living together, but that's her mother's mistake.

Ayeok Wed 09-Nov-16 17:59:14

Bahhhhhumbug my DP has two "DSDs", he's the only dad they've ever known and when he and his XW separated and then divorced, and he met me (after the separation!) they have always been treated as his daughters, no difference made. He is their dad, our DCs are their siblings, that's it. That's the only time I think it's ok, if their commitment is to the child, not just the parent.

TheFormidableMrsC Wed 09-Nov-16 18:02:25

Bahhhhhumbug...I'm really sorry, I just don't agree with you on this at all. I don't think it's "just a name" at all. I would never ever encourage my children to call somebody who wasn't actually their Dad by that name. Maybe it's me. Same applies to grandparents. My DD always called her "step" grandparents by their names as I feel that is appropriate.

Bahhhhhumbug Wed 09-Nov-16 18:19:22

Thats fine Mrs C , there are so many different scenarios I suppose especially these days families are complicated and I fully get your pov too. But I meant really more from the child's perspective it might be more hurtful to be told not to call him 'dad' and if they do split up she will miss him not because of what she has been calling him but because of how much she thinks of him and whether or not he still sees her if that makes sense.
Also as in my nightmare at times very complicated family I have a step DGD who is nearly grown up now and who's dad has never been on the scene and in fact 'did one' as soon as he knew about her and my son has been the only 'dad' she has ever known from a baby and then he and her mother had a child of their own a couple of years later who is obviously my biological DGD. So I could never imagine one calling me 'Nana Bahhhhh' and the other one being corrected if she did so or me considering one my DGD and her sister not. They are just my two DGDs but I did check as I say that it was ok with everyone in the early days when she first called me it.

Bahhhhhumbug Wed 09-Nov-16 18:25:43

Disclaimer - I didnt mean my family are a nightmare in any way there. I meant working out who is who etc at times and what to call everyone in some cases.

Somerville Wed 09-Nov-16 18:31:17

The reason she isn't as comfortable with you as with her mum is because you live far apart so don't see her all the time, on top of only knowing her 7 months.

Personally I think that as you haven't moved in with her mother, let alone married her, that the child should have been gently corrected with your first name when she started calling you daddy. If you don't plan a long-term, live-in, commitment to her then I think you should still suggest that.

For what it's worth my own children call my fiancé Papa. (Because my late husband was, and will always be, Daddy.) But they began doing so when I got engaged - before that, and still when they are referring to him when he is not here, they called him his first name. They are also older than your girlfriend's child so had a big say in this with us being able to consider all the pros and cons with them. The reason they wanted to is because we are applying for parental responsibility for him, they would remain living with him if I die, and he may even legally adopt them.

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