My question is related to my almost 3 year old daughter. Her father and I have been split up since she was a little over a year old, and she does not see him anymore (but she still knows who he is and sees his family every week).
My current boyfriend and I have been together for over a year, but she has known him her whole life. Things were rough at first between them, she would cry whenever he would be around or show any affection toward me. I thought it was just jealousy and that she would eventually understand that she was number 1 and that I wasn't going anywhere. It did stop for a little while, until we moved in together. Now things are much worse. She cries at almost everything he tries to do with her (playing, feeding, dressing, etc.)
I don't know what to do at this point. I have tried everything. I will sit with her and try to explain he is just trying to play with her or whatever it may be, But she will just cry and look to me or run in her room, and she can literally sit in her room and cry for 10-15 minutes; but it's not even a real cry, it's like shes faking to get my attention. It is putting alot of stress and fighting in the relationship, and I am running out of options! I need advice on what to do when she cries, how do I get her to stop and how do I get her to realize he is just trying to be nice to her? And what could my boyfriend be doing differently? He is a very nice man and has always been there for her in the nicest way.
I hope you have some advice for me! Thank you
From: Nicole, Portland (state not given)
I have to raise the possibility that something has happened to make her frightened of your boyfriend. Could he have spanked her in your absence, or used a tone of voice that threatened her....? Maybe he's frightened her in some way that he totally didn't realize. This is a tough but important conversation to have with him. I'd also consider the possibility that there is there something about him that could be off-putting? Kids this age can be reactive to smell, texture etc. Too much after-shave? Bad breath? Rough beard?
I also notice that you say your "current" boyfriend. Have there been other men in her life? It's possible that this man is a good guy but someone before him frightened her and she's now frightened of him. I'm also wondering about this because you say it was "rough" in the beginning, that she cried in his presence or when he showed affection to you. Was there violence between you and her father? Between you and another man that has made her afraid of men in general? It's hard to imagine a child that young being jealous in the way an older child would be, which is what makes me wonder about what she's seen in terms of the "affection" you describe. Has something upset her from a young age?
And here's another possibility. While I applaud you for making sure that her father's family is part of her life, I wonder if someone in that family has said something that has poisoned her/frightened her toward your boyfriend. If you think that's a possibility, I would enlist their aid in the most sympathetic way possible, by asking for their help in accepting him.
Developmentally, this is a young age for her to put any of this together and it's likely there's a combination of factors at work including fear that you will leave her. So here's what I'd do for a while:
Keep his involvement with her to a minimum, including playing and care-giving. It's less, not more, involvement over time that will make her feel more comfortable with him.
Don't be angry with her, don't punish her, if she doesn't want him and don't push him on her in any way.
Make a point to spend time alone with her every day, including "mom and me" time, where it's just the two of you doing something she likes, like cuddling, reading to her, etc.
Don't feel like everything you do needs to include him.
Institute as much routine and consistency as possible in her life.
She's too young to understand much, if anything, of your explanations. Actions are what's important. Her sense of security has been interrupted and it may take time for it to be restored. If your boyfriend feels hurt by this and this is the source of fighting between you, that's would be a red flag for me in terms of your relationship.