seeking advice on blending parental styles

Noemi - posted on 12/09/2008 ( 1 mom has responded )

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Hi everybody-

we are a family of five kids, a 16 year old, nine year old, and one year old that belong to me, and a going-on-three year old and a nine month old that belong to my partner. We are fairly new to this, having moved in together only two months ago.

We've worked out a lot of stuff in the past few months but we have a lot of mini-conflicts around the two-going-on three year old. I feel really bad because she is a really smart, sweet little kid, but she is a little lost and confused, I think, and she throws a lot of tantrums, which are driving my half of the family nuts. Me and my partner do a lot of intense "discussing" on the days she is with us about her behaviour and I am sure it is really lonely and sad for him to have his fathering questioned all the time, as well as his daughter's character.

I try to remember that she is still a toddler, but my memories of my daughter at that age have faded somewhat. To me, she seems really demanding and willful, immature for her age and clingy. She won't let me take care of her at all, freaks out when I try to take her out of the car seat, and is rarely interested in interacting with me at all. She clings to her dad, who has a fair amount of guilt as well as being extremely connected to her emotionally (a classic Daddy's Girl) and he has a hard time (in my opinion) disciplining her.

On the other hand, he says I have forgotten what a two year old is like. I say she needs to learn to use words to express her anxieties or needs, and that tantrums and screaming are never acceptable and needs immediate disciplining (nothing serious; like a time out or a consequence). the last time she was over here she also threw a sippy cup at her little sister and it hit her on the head. She does these negative-attention kinds of things a lot but only when we are all together.
When I have been alone with her she is really sweet, peaceful and conversational. At these moments I like her a lot.

His other daughter is delightful and no problem at all...my question is this: have I forgotten what almost-three looks like ?(Her third birthday is coming up in January) Is this a manifestation of stress because of her parents' separation and the advent of myself and my kids? It certainly is more chaotic over at my place than what she is used to, and her dad is more distracted..how do I help her, and how do I keep from getting mad at both her and her father, and what is normal adjustment for a kid of her age going through all of this? Does it sound normal to you? will she eventually stop? How do we help her ? Does it sound like a problem dynamic between her dad and her? Does he need to start setting boundaries or do we need to be patient?

Help me out if you can, cause this kid is driving me batty and I don't want to do the wrong thing with her.

Thanks a lot in advance for your help...

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Renae - posted on 01/20/2009

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My second daughter was 2 1/2 when my current husband moved in with me and she did the exact type of things to me when ever we were all together too. My hubby used to get soooo mad at me when I would pick her up and hold and cuddle her when she would throw her fits. After many fights of the same thing I finally realized that I he was right and that I was the one that had to do something about it cause it got worse if he tried. I would take her into her bedroom and I was ask her in a calm voice why she was acting the way she was and if she would not answer me I would tell her that if she want to throw her fit then she can but she has to do it in her room all by herself and when she is ready to talk about it she is welcome to come and talk. For the first little bit it took an hour or so and then she would either come out or fall asleep. I noticed with her that it happened mostly when she was tired. After sticking with the same routine when she behaved in that manner for about 3 months I know that seems long but they have to realize that dad in your situation means business, she just all of a sudden quit. I know that is really hard to deal with it but with him being the (bio) dad she needs the punishment to come from him. Allow her to come to you when she feels comfortable and when she does not want you pay extra attention to her sister and let her watch and then she will begin to move toward you to get the attention that you give her sister. If she hurts her sister do not say anything to her and only pay attention to her sister because she is just testing you to see how you will react to her and if she figures out that her being mean gets her no attention she will more than likely quit but you have to catch her do good things and praise her. When she is with you and being good make sure to tell her that you are enjoying spending time with her. I think that it is all a test in their little heads and this is just worked for me.

Good luck with everything and remember if it gets to hair hide in another room for a 1/2 hour and cool down cause the fights that stem from frustration are the worst!!!!!

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