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Is this unusual?(34 Posts)
My partner moved in with me late last year - he has a seven year old daughter he sees almost every day with a number of overnights a month and I have a 12 year old son.
Everything has been going really well - we're all getting on fine except for one issue. My partners' daughter is very demonstratively affectionate with me - she's called me Mommy a number of times, she hugs me and sits on my lap a lot and I don't think my son likes it. He got quite upset recently when she called me Mommy and he stormed off. My partner talked to her and I've told her that I'm not her Mommy and she stopped. She's now taken to sitting on my lap and cuddling me when my son is around. She used to try to cuddle my son a lot too which he didn't particularly like and my partner had to talk to her about that as well. I feel bad that she's had to be pulled up so much.
On the one hand, I know she's probably feeling insecure and I want her to be happy here. On the other, I don't want my son to feel pushed out
or his personal space invaded. He's very good with her - he'll play with her and makes her laugh a lot. I've gotten to the stage where I'm quite stand-offish with her when he's not here as I don't want to encourage her - I also want her and her dad to have time alone together.
I spend time with my son alone and I've talked to him, told him that the little girl is a bit confused, that I also find the situation a bit confusing and we need to be patient but is there anything else I can do? Is this normal? Has anyone else experienced it?
I think at 12 your son is behaving a bit immaturely. My daughter is 12 and I can't imagine her getting in a strop like that.
Just make sure you give him lots of reassurance and attention regardless if she is there or not. I think it is cruel to keep pushing her away though. Obviously not calling you mum is fair enough but withholding affection is a bit mean.
Thanks @HelloTerrance - he was upset more than angry. For more context, me and his dad split when he was 9 so it might still be a bit raw for him whereas her parents split when she was very young so she doesn't remember being in a two-parent family unit.
I'd work on your son, rather than the daughter, if that makes sense. Lots of one on one time, maybe get your partner to do things just with him also, loads of praise. Make him feel more secure and he won't be bothered. You are right to stop her calling you mum though.
Interesting that you say about my partner spending time with him too @StormBaby - he's actually asked that the three of us watch movies together when she's not here so maybe that's what he needs.
I think at 12 your son could be a bit more understanding. My dc are very affectionate and are like that with exp's girlfriend- although they don't call her mummy and you were right to stop that. I hope she's not stand offish with them though, she doesn't appear to be when im there. Her dc don't seem to mind thankfully
I think it’s understandable that your son gets upset with the situation, but it sounds like you’re handling it as well as you possibly can. You’re right to be wary of your son feeling pushed out, so I’d carry on discouraging the over the top affection from your dsd. You can discourage without being unkind. Maybe get your son to be on your side with distractions for her so that he knows you don’t particularly want another child all over behaving as if your their Mum and he is part of the solution to make it feel better for you both.
It’s worth remembering that little girls feelings are not more important than your sons just because she is younger.
I think expecting a 12 year old to have an adult ability to manage emotions might be a bit of a reach. It's understandable that he has some jealousy, and he needs some help managing that, but also I'd suggest that it needs to be recognised that his feelings aren't all that unreasonable in the scheme of things. His family unit changed significantly not that long ago, and is changing again. Hes also at a point where he has a lot of changes happening himself, hormones and puberty will mean hes possibly not feeling himself. I imagine hes feeling quite destabilised and vulnerable, and his mum is the person who will make him feel safer and more secure. If he feels like hes losing that security, he will react. My suggestion is lots of love and reassurance, work gently on positive behaviours and empathy on all sides. Dont tolerate any bad behaviour, but give him the chance to be open about how hes feeling and why hes behaving the way he is.
Thanks @NailsNeedDoing and @katmarie. I think considering all the changes he's had my son is doing really well and I've told him numerous times how proud I am of him. As you say he is also very obviously going through puberty so being an absolute superstar compared to some of the horror stories I'm hearing from his friends' mums.
I just don't understand SD's behaviour - she obviously knows I'm not her mum, she's constantly asking to see me and her dad kiss and wants us to get married. I wasn't expecting this at all.
She craving the normality and comfort of a 2 parent family especially as she's never had it it will be more pronounced. My elder dd is the same. We bumped in to a male friend at the park that I'd not seen for years and she was all over him by the end and whispering to me if he could be part of our family. There have been several instances similar to this in the past. Her dad was really not there for her, mostly ignored her then love bombed occasionally when he could be bothered, then we split when she was 4. It's obviously really affected her. Him being back on the scene and having a stable gf who tolerated her is helping
I agree with midnight. She might not have had that family experience growing up so far, but she will have been surrounded by depictions of the 'standard' family set up and although she probably isn't consciously aware that it represents stability, she will know it's a good thing. You and her dad are happy, and she will want to hang on to that. She wont understand that shes alienating her step brother with her behaviour. She already knows families can break up. I think though that it's her dad who should be taking the lead with her, lots of love and reassurance but also clear boundaries, so that shes clear where she is in the family, and that shes very much loved, and she doesn't have to worry.
That's so helpful, thanks. I had thought that she hadn't had that two-parent family experience so she wouldn't miss it. I think my son will understand that and be more accepting. I'll talk to him.
I'm not sure myself how my partner can let her know where she is in the family and how to manage her expectations. It's all new to all of us.
Totally agree on lots of 1:1 quality time with your DS. Which will have the added benefit of your partner getting lots of nice 1:1 time with his DD.
To be honest I think both children are behaving normally for their ages under the circumstances.
12 is still a kid and those saying he's immature don't get it.
Your SD probably craves your affection and you need to be careful about being standoffish with her, or she may feel rejected.
That's not saying she is more important than your son.
I'm going against the grain: she sounds manipulative, especially knowing your Son doesn't like it. She is 7, not 4.
12 isn't so old. I know mine is still quite childish...and good! I agree that it would be positive in if your partner spent more time with him too. He might feel it's more balanced.
My bf kids are/were very much like this. We don't live together though so I certainly had to deal with it far less than you. In addition they were very vocal about their mums shortcomings.
It can be quite overwhelming. I have always taken it as a compliment, they must like me and approve of the relationship.
I've tried to keep some boundaries especially about their mum and slagging her off to me/why I'm so much better.
I'm a few years down the road and they have both turn out to have some emotional/mental health issues. I don't believe this means the same for your sd though.
Sorry no real advice. I think you are probably doing all the right things tbh.
My first thought was that she was being manipulative also, especially if she only cuddles you when your son is around. Does she cuddle you as much as when he’s not around?
How do you feel about her cuddling and affection all the time? From how you write, I sense up you find it a little overbearing at times.
I'm going against the grain: she sounds manipulative, especially knowing your Son doesn't like it. She is 7, not 4
Agreed. My first thought was she's manipulative too. I'm surprised by people saying he's too old to act that way, he is 12, very young. The mommy nonsense should have been stopped immediately. Concentrate on your child rather than the child of a man you haven't been with long and maybe won't even stay with. Poor boy.
I would have been extremely upset by that at 12. And you only split when he was 9? That's an awful lot of change in a very short time. He needs of one to one time and understanding/compassion.
The perspectives of posters who say your son is immature are outrageous (and they would never say this if he were a girl). He is a young boy going through huge and complex familial changes. Listening and understanding and demonstrating your love for him is essential. Ignore the earlier terrible advice!
@Standrewsschool - yeah, she only cuddles me when he's around as I spend more time with the two of them then. When it's just her in the house I leave her and her dad to hang out and when it's just my son I spend more alone time with him. They're not always here at the same time.
I hate to say it but I do find her overbearing, she gets right in my face and pulls out of my clothes. My partner does tell her to calm down but I'm in a quandary where I don't want to reject her but I'm really not comfortable with it. She's almost eight so I would have thought she'd have calmed down by now.
@Abracad - thanks for your support. I know my son isn't immature and he's had a lot to cope with.
Sorry, what do you mean ‘pulls out of your clothes’. Is this ‘pulls your clothes’.
I think you need to gently start putting in boundaries/discipline. If she does something you don’t like, reprimand her, but make sure you praise any good behaviour. I appreciate you don’t want to reject her, but you don’t want to be a pushover either.
Maybe make time for just her and you and do girl things (crafts, cooking etc) so she spends quality time with you.
I agree with pp, she sounds an unpleasant child, deliberately doing in front of your DS, demanding your and DP kiss, it would make me very uncomfortable.
I think you and DP need to be firm with her or it’ll get worse and you’ll be stuck with a manipulative child and it will cause more problems, nip it in the bud asap.
This thread is so extreme. The 12 year old boy is immature and the 7 year girl is manipulative :/
This is typical blended family issues. I have a DD the same age as your step daughter and at that age it is possible to talk and put boundaries in place.