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caliroo34 July 28th, 2013 08:38 PM

New to this board, advice appreciated
Hi all, I think it's about time I made my way to this board as I could use some advice.

A bit of a back story: My OH and I are an international couple. He has a four year old son from his previous marriage. They split up over 2 years ago. Prior to my moving here, I had only met his son on my one trip out here. Things went about as good as I thought they could go.

I then moved here in February. We don't have his son all that often in the grand scheme of things. He's here every Thursday and every other weekend. His son isn't particularly rude or mean to me, he just does not talk to me. There are days when the only interaction I have with him is good morning and good night. I try to ask him questions, joke with him, etc...but it's rare he'll actually respond. He'll smile and hide behind pillows or something. Sometimes he won't even say hello when I say hello. He'll cling to his dad's leg and literally two hours later he'll say hello. I just find it so baffling. I know he's shy. But he goes to day care every day so he has plenty of interaction with other people. I also get that while almost 6 months seems like a long time to me, he probably needs more. That would be fine but you guys, there's no improvement. If anything it's worse. I'm finding it hard to summon the strength to keep trying.

Last week, I had to get the remote from him to take a reminder off the TV screen so he could continue to watch his show. He wouldn't give it to me. He went to go hand it to his dad. I about lost it (internally.) Out loud I told him that since I'm the one who asked for it, he needs to give it to me. He reluctantly did after that. He'll ask his dad questions about me when I'm standing right there, instead of asking me himself.

I try to remind myself that he doesn't see his dad much and this probably contributes to it. He's not really here often enough to feel like this is "home" or that I belong here. As far as he's concerned, this is somewhere he comes to see his dad for a bit and I'm interfering.

I really, really, want to improve this situation. Not in small part because OH and I are expecting our first child together. I'm wondering how in the WORLD that's going to work out. I'm also super emotional with all the hormones. I have no friends or family here and when OH's son is around I feel so alone. I'm not invited to play with them or anything because the kid wouldn't want me to. I've brought it up with OH and he explained he feels it's best to not push us on each other. I get that but right now all I see is a lifetime of having a (for all intents and purposes) step-son who won't speak to me. How am I going to raise a child who has a sibling who doesn't acknowledge my existence?

I am not expecting miracles. I don't expect him to automatically love me or bond with me. I understand that may or may not come in time. I just want to be...a friend? Sometimes I see glimpses. I'll help him find his dad when they play hide and seek or once when his dad was outside I helped him with his legos. But it's so, so few and far between.

I do realize it could be 1000x worse. But I know how I'm feeling and when I'm starting to *dread*" the weekends he's here, there's a problem. I want OH to help me out but 1. I feel like he doesn't know how. and 2. I don't want the little time he has with his child to be about me. It should be about him and his boy. I don't know what right I have to really expect anything else. That's why I pretty much suffer in silence. I just let them have their time together and I do my own thing. But it hurts. It's hard to admit that. Any advice would be appreciated.

plan4fate July 29th, 2013 02:05 AM

Re: New to this board, advice appreciated
Dh and I were an international couple, and there's one more on here who was as well. Not quite as international as you.. We are both Canadians and our husbands are Americans.

That said... I've not had any issues with Reme and getting him to talk to me. If anything I wish he'd shut up a little bit because omg that boy can talk.... :p

You said your step son is 4? That is very young and he is likely still confused. That said, your OH has to facilitate the relationship. If your DSS asks him a question about you, your OH has to tell him that you are standing right there and he can ask you himself. It can be done in loving and sweet ways.. it doesn't have to sound as cold and mean as I know it did when I typed it out.

Could the mother be causing issues? We've never had an issue, DH's ex and I get along splendidly.... but I know my sisters mother made my mom's life a living hell by putting little thoughts into her mind about the situations at hand. Something as simple as "you don't have to listen to her, you don't have to talk to her" is VERY powerful to a small child.

I partly agree with your OH.. but at the same time I don't. The reality of it is, you are another parent to this child, and that relationship needs to be established quickly and firmly. For the first month or two yeah... it was fine.. but now things need to get to a normal home life...

They say it takes 7 years to blend a family on average.

I expected us to have more issues than we do.. because.. well... I am mean. I don't tolerate BS out of anyone... and everyone else around me does. And there was some headbutting for the first month or two... after that everything started to settle down and have been mostly smooth since. The big hurdle for us was I had never wanted to be a step parent... but he was part of the deal.

And now, let me tell you, most of the time he is the best part of my marriage :)

AtomicMama July 29th, 2013 08:15 AM

Re: New to this board, advice appreciated
I have to agree with Ashley. I'm not blaming your DH, because I see where he is coming from, but I do think he is kind of wrong.

Yes, your DSS should be given time to warm up to you. However, 6 months IS a pretty fair amount of time. I'm not saying he should really feel any specific way towards you, but to not talk to you, that is a problem. What happens if he feels/acts the same way to your child/his sibling? Will every weekend he is with you guys be you and your baby and your DSS and your DH? I understand that is pretty dramatic, but I would do feel like since this has been going on for an extended period of time, it obviously is something that won't change on it's own. I do think your DH needs to encourage it. Like Ashley said, he should be lovingly encouraging his son to speak to you directly or interact with you on some level.

I also agree that it could be an issue with his BM. That said, there isn't much you can do to change her, only things to change what happens at your house. I'm sure you have, but try sitting down and talking to your DH one day. Pick a day when DSS isn't around, maybe even when he hasn't been/won't be for awhile. That might help show your DH that it is important to you and something that is on your mind all the time. Tell him how much you care about him and DSS, and that you want to do anything you can to make your family work. You are part of the family, though, and clearly things aren't working right now.

Maybe suggest a fun outing for all three of you. Go to the zoo or a park or a fair or anything fun and kid oriented. Maybe even let DSS pick. Just get him out of his element and really enjoying something and see if that helps him open up. Then, if it's going well enough, have DH go off and buy drinks or lunch of whatever to give you and DSS even just 5 minutes alone to interact. Yes, I agree that it should be slow and easy, but at the same time, DSS is not stepping out of his comfort zone at all on his own. I'm not saying force it on him, but give him opportunities to change and help encourage it, even if it means he has to be out of his comfort zone for a little while. At some point, you may even try taking him to a movie, just the two of you, since it's a low pressure situation where he doesn't have to talk, but the two of you are spending time together. While I realize it is very important for him to have time with DH, since he has him so rarely, remember that YOU are an essential part of his family and his life now too. For your blended family to really work, he really does need to get to know you and accept you.

It may still take awhile. Like you said, there is no overnight solution. I would definitely recommend looking for a family counselor, even if just you and DH go. It doesn't mean there is an issue with your marriage, just that you want to arm yourselves with all the skills and tools available to help make your family work long term.

Keakie July 29th, 2013 11:53 AM

Re: New to this board, advice appreciated
Hi there. I'm the other international couple that Ashley mentioned. :) I moved two years ago and met my dsc for the first time a little over a year before that, during their summer visitation with my dh.

I wanted to second (third?) what the other ladies have said regarding the timeline. It is absolutely normal for it to take a little bit of time for a child to warm up to a new person in his/her life, but this far along there should be SOME improvement. I'm not sure what kind of a time line is normal for a more shy child (none of my dsc are what most people would consider "shy" :giggle:), but it concerns me that he doesn't seem to be comfortable speaking to you at all. I was also wondering what the relationship is like with his bm.

How often do you try to initiate conversation with him? I have an almost-7 yo dsd (she was 3 when I met her) and she was a little stand offish when I first met her - she told me that I wasn't allowed to know the names of her Littlest Pet Shop pets - but she warmed up quickly once I started to ask her questions about what she was doing/playing/drawing and especially when I would do some of those things with her (I still colour with her sometimes). She's now the child I bond most easily with.

If you don't already, I would make a point to address him similarly (and not take it personally if he doesn't respond well/at all). I have a mostly peaceful but largely detached relationship with my own stepmom because she always felt that it was *my* responsibility, as the child, to come and talk to her rather than the other way around when she came into my life. It's always bothered me because *I* was the child going through a major life transition and she was the adult.

I also think that your SO needs to play a more active role in the fostering a relationship between you and his son. While I understand not pushing you on each other, the fact that so much time has gone by and nothing has improved should signal to him that his approach isn't working. It can be something as simple as doing activities together, as a family, which IMO is non-threatening and doesn't place either of you on the spot because it keeps your SO there as a buffer but still allows you room to bond. He can also make the effort to bring you into his conversations or playtime with his son. It doesn't mean he needs to force his child to call you "mom" and give your hugs and kisses against his will. :)

It sounds like your SO's son needs to feel that you're a safe person to be around, and your SO reinforcing that you are one (by integrating you into activities and conversations) is probably the best way to start that process. I don't think it's intentional, but your SO may be inadvertently sending the OPPOSITE message by ignoring his son's obvious discomfort with you and failing to step in. It creates an obvious divide (i.e. daddy's relationship with me vs. daddy's relationship with her) as opposed to a more unified family feeling, and divides are NEVER a happy thing when it comes to blended families. It will lead to a feeling of discomfort for your entire family during visitation periods, and likely resentment in you (and possibly in your SO if he (unrealistically) expects you to conjure a relationship with his child without any help from him and you can't do that).


Originally Posted by caliroo34 (Post 27547801)
I try to remind myself that he doesn't see his dad much and this probably contributes to it. He's not really here often enough to feel like this is "home" or that I belong here. As far as he's concerned, this is somewhere he comes to see his dad for a bit and I'm interfering.

Honestly, I have a 4 yo dss and I really don't think most children at that age think this way. He may feel uneasy if he isn't there all the time and is accidentally (or not, if the bm is encouraging the stand-offishness) receiving mixed messages about who you're supposed to be, but the kind of resentment that you're describing here would be, IMO, unusual for a child that young. :)

In addition, it sounds like you and his dad are starting your own family and you're planning to be together for a long time. While his one on one time with daddy is absolutely important, I don't think it's a negative thing for him to view visiting with you guys as visiting with his family on his dad's side vs. visiting his dad and you're just sort of there. Your SO should really be encouraging that in an age appropriate and gentle way, ESPECIALLY with a new sibling on the way.


You said your step son is 4? That is very young and he is likely still confused. That said, your OH has to facilitate the relationship. If your DSS asks him a question about you, your OH has to tell him that you are standing right there and he can ask you himself. It can be done in loving and sweet ways.. it doesn't have to sound as cold and mean as I know it did when I typed it out.
:ditto: It's not mean or forcing anything to say, "She's right there. You'll have to ask her yourself. :)"

caliroo34 July 30th, 2013 12:14 AM

Re: New to this board, advice appreciated
Thank you ladies :) I totally agree with what you've all said and will take it to heart. I have had conversations with OH about some of the things you've mentioned and while it got better for awhile, he slowly stopped doing what we'd talked about. I think part of the problem is every time we've spoken about it I've already been upset and that doesn't foster communication very well. This time I will speak to him when I'm not already in a bad place.

My OH would love nothing more than to see me and his son get along, so I know nothing is intentional, just more that he's not sure how to go about it. I will pass along some of the suggestions. I've thought of some of them myself but it's good to hear it from other people, so I know that I'm right in thinking of trying out this course of action.

As far as BM goes, I have no idea what she may be saying. I know OH would never believe she was saying anything bad, but I think sometimes he underestimates her. But like someone pointed out, not much we can do to change that any way.

Also I have the same fears about it being me and the baby on one side and OH and DS on the other. I also fear it may go another way in that DS will take a keen interest in the baby, but only continue talking to his dad about it. I really, really don't want is to be a case of OH and baby and SS having quality time while once again I'm left out. That is just so not going to work.

Thanks again, guys. I will speak to OH soon, maybe even tonight. Hopefully we'll be able to put some of the tips in play this weekend. I'll keep you all updated :)

caliroo34 July 31st, 2013 12:16 AM

Re: New to this board, advice appreciated
I spoke with my OH and it went well. He said he hadn't really realized it was an issue and now that he knows he'll work on it. I was kind of like 'how could you NOT notice?' but as long as he acknowledges it now it's OK. When I pointed out the various examples, he agreed with me that there's things to work on.

So we'll see how it goes! He's here tomorrow so first trial coming up.

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