Stepmom to toddler who only wants daddy

Danika - posted on 09/04/2015 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Ok, so I am not exactly a "stepmom" yet, but my bf and I have been together for almost 3 years and I do see marriage in our future, I am 27 and he is 25. He has a daughter from his previous relationship, she is 2 and a half. Just to explain, he and I started dating around the same time she was born, he and the mother were not together and do not get along.

I was not "allowed" to meet or be a part of their daughters life for the first 18 months, those were her mothers wishes and I never did anything to disrespect that. Her mother would only allow my bf to visit his daughter at her house under her supervision, he was not allowed to take his daughter anywhere without her. Finally they went to court and he was granted joint custody, so now we have his daughter at our house every 2nd week from Thurs-Sun and then one day during the week in between. She is a wonderful little girl and I love having her around. I have only "officially" been in her life for the past 10 months, but our relationship has grown a lot since the first day she came over.

Now here is why I am writing this post. I have been having a lot of trouble feeling "accepted" during her stays with us. She loves playtime with me, we sing, dance, color and play hide-and-go-seek, however when it comes to me trying to help my bf with parenting, it's a challenge. If my bf has to step out of the house for a bit, all I hear is "Where's daddy?" repeatedly. Sometimes if I even try to help get her dressed, put her in her carseat or even if I simply try pushing the shopping cart at the grocery store, she'll start crying and says "Noo I want daddy to do it!" She won't let me give her a bath and if I try putting her to bed, she only lets me read a couple stories but then starts to cry because she wants her daddy. I panic if my bf has to leave the house for a few hours while she is sleeping because I can't sooth her when she wakes up crying. I have started picking her up from daycare because my bf has to work a bit later, and this has given us some alone time together which is great, but she will still ask constantly "where's daddy?" and only wants him for most things when he is around.

I'm at a loss, I feel like I have tried to be understanding, I know she is just a child but I feel so unwanted and unappreciated at times. It's to the point where I don't even want to try and do those things anymore just to avoid the feeling of being rejected again. I know my bf tries to understand but he really doesn't. When he asks if I want to try and bathe her or put her to bed and I say no, he just says she won't warm up to me if I don't try. Maybe he's right? But I just don't feel comfortable "forcing" her to accept me if she doesn't want me, especially when she is crying out for him.

So, should I keep trying anyway and will she eventually accept me? Or should I just leave that kind of stuff up to him, since she is his daughter and not mine?? Has anyone gone through the same experience? I'm really hoping for some positive feedback and advice.

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Dove - posted on 09/04/2015

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She's 2.... even if you were her bio mom she could have a preference and only want daddy. Or she could have a preference and only want you and daddy would be the one feeling left out. Her behavior is completely NORMAL.

And since I am not a step parent... I will just have to agree w/ everything Raye said... because that is how you handle it when it's the bio parents and a child has a preference as well. You sympathize w/ the preference and accommodate when it works out... but otherwise you just stay calm and reassuring and do whatever needs done even if the child is upset about it.

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MaryAnn - posted on 09/04/2015

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Raye is right on point. A tip from my personal experience... Find a thing that you two can do together. Once the comfort level hits with everyone, try taking her out on your own for an adventure. Like... Maybe a walk where she gets to pick out her own apple from the store. Something short and sweet.
On a broader note, though, get used to these things. As step parents,often times we feel as though the issues we face are step family issues... When really, theyre just family things that are simply just signs of age appropriate development. You dont always have to read in too deep. SD just LOVES daddy, and why shouldn't she?

Lisa - posted on 09/04/2015

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Great reply Raye. I think Raye is right, your feelings of being unwanted are pretty normal in your situation, but they really have no bearing, because your 2 year old does not understand that she is "rejecting" you. You are doing a great job, and you BF is right, keep stepping in there and helping out so she gets used to you. It will happen. Hang in there!

Raye - posted on 09/04/2015

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I'm 40, so I won't have any children of my own, only my two step kids. I feel bad sometimes that I don't feel that tight bond with the kids that they have toward their natural parents. But they are all I have and I love them as best as I can. You have to know it's good enough. You have to be strong and know that YOU're good enough, especially on the days you don't feel like it. It may be a little harder on you, because you don't have her with you very much, but give it time and don't give up.

Raye - posted on 09/04/2015

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I am a step-mom of two, and I can tell you it's one of the most difficult things I've ever done. But it has it's rewards, too. It's natural that the girl would want her daddy. Do not feel that it has anything to do with you. She doesn't do it to be mean or manipulative. She's a child, and she may be feeling insecure about the changes that have happened in the last year. You don't want to "force" her to accept you. But it seems like she likes you, and that's a great start. It sounds like you're doing fantastic.

Every time you're out somewhere and she asks for her daddy, just say "I'm sorry, but your daddy's not here" and continue with what you were doing like it's no big deal. Don't baby-talk to her or make over her, just go about your business. If she cries, try to distract her or make her laugh. If she wants help with something and is crying for daddy but he's not home, say "daddy is not here, he'll be back in (number of hours). Can I help you with something?" If she says no, and cries for her daddy, then tell her that it's ok for her to wait, but maybe she could play quietly for a bit while she's waiting. Try to get her mind off whatever is upsetting her and try stay calm and not to let her rattle you. She will eventually come around on a lot of the stuff, but there will probably always be some things she will want her daddy for. Don't begrudge her that bond with her father.

What does your boyfriend do when he IS there and she wants him for everything? Maybe he should suggest to her that you help her with something. If she says no, that's ok. But next time, he can suggest again that maybe you can help her. He can also explain to her that, when he's gone, you're in charge and can do all the stuff that he can do. He shouldn't force her, but he can keep making suggestions and trying to get you more involved and increase her comfort level of you. Being on the same page with the father is the best thing that you two can do. Be united as a parenting unit and be consistent.

I don't mean to sound rude, but your problem with feeling accepted is just that, your problem. I know, because it's mine, too. You are not a replacement for the mother, and it's hard to know what your place is (and harder for the kid to figure out how you fit in). My husband has primary custody, and I do a lot of things that their mother doesn't do for them. And my son (8 y/o) still has trouble figuring out exactly how I fit in the family. He feels I'm like his natural parent, and he doesn't understand why his mom would get upset over me being his mom, too. It's so hard for us, and harder on the kids, and it's sad. You just have to focus on the joys, and know that you being there is a good thing, and continue to try to help them as much as you can without stepping on the bio-mom's toes. It's a balancing act on a tightrope sometimes... but you can do it.

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