What to do when a child refuses to use someones name?

Heather - posted on 11/12/2012 ( 3 moms have responded )

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After four years, my significant others daughter will still not say my name. She enjoys spending time with me, shows no other hesitancy in any of our interactions, and says she likes me. All of the adults in her life on both Mom’s and Dad’s side get along with one another – no issues there. She does not have this block with her mother’s significant other or his family – this block is squarely fixed on me and members of my family. Her psychologist did not have recommendations other than to wait it out. She is almost 8 years old and we are really struggling with the issue. Suggestions or insight?

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Dove - posted on 11/12/2012

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If her psychologist is recommending to wait it out... that is the advice I would be most inclined to follow.



Have you asked her if there is a name she would like to refer to you by?

Heather - posted on 11/12/2012

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Thanks Becky - she actually does not call me anything. She will rather "talk at me", tap me on the arm, or something like that to get my attention. We have discussed with her that this behavior hurts peoples feelings and that it is not good manners, as well as trying to get her to put into her own words why she is having a hard time with it. While we don't believe she is worried about anyone leaving her life (we have never gotten any indication there) we do acknowledge that while the divorce was very civil and she spends almost 50/50 time with both parents, it was Dad who moved out and whom her life changed most with. I think it is a mix between control and her feeling I am a threat to her relationship with Dad and to an extent, Mom. Mom and Dad both started their new (and current) relationships within weeks of one another, but their daughters reaction to the two relationships has been drastically different. We are at our wits end as not only could this be a dangerous situation (not being able to call out to me if she is hurt/in trouble) but also very frustrating as every inquiry/question/comment from her is directed to Daddy only.

Becky - posted on 11/12/2012

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What does she want to call you? Has anyone asked her that? What does she actually call you if she wants to get your attention? Maybe she is afraid that you will not stick around, and by refusing to use your name she is keeping herself emotionally guarded. I know that would seem odd after 4 years, but we never know what is going on in their little minds and how they are seeing the world around them. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself if she knows that it bothers you that she won't call you by name. Maybe it is an act of defiance, or a way to gain control of a situation she feels is out of her control?

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