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"I want my Mommy"

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I need some advice please.....

My 3 1/2 year old stepson is very attached to his mom. He has a difficult time with the transition from her house to his dad's house. When we pick him up, he cries and does not want to leave with us and when she drops him off at our home, he does not want her to leave. When we pick him up from daycare, he cries at the sight of us, and wants his mommy. Within five minutes of each occurance, he settles down and is a happy little boy. He may, later in the evening, cry for his mom again, but most of the time he is just fine with us. How can we help him with the transition? What can we say to him to let him know that things will be okay? Mom and dad separated before he was born. He has always been with dad three days each week. This is not a new routine for him; it is all he has ever known. Should we keep a picture of his mom for him to help calm him when he gets upset about being away from her? We are just at a loss as to how to comfort him when he cries, "I want my Mommy". We always reasure him that he will see her very soon and anytime he ever wants to talk with her, we always have him call her. What do you all think? He did start to go through separation anxiety when he was about 18 months. This is a little different though. Thank you in advance for your advice!
post #2 of 12
My stepson was a little older than your stepson when he started spending overnights with us. When he missed his mom, we did just what you do. We let him call her whenever he wanted, told him he would see her soon, etc.

His mom made a tape of herself reading stories to him, but he was never that interested in it. She also made a photo album that he could carry around, with pictures of her, his dog at her house, his grandmother. Maybe something like that would help.

If this has always been his routine, it may just be a developmental stage. Does he cry when she leaves him at daycare? Or has there been major changes at her house? Maybe he's feeling anxious because of things that are making him anxious at his other home.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your reply. He does sometimes cry when she drops him off at daycare. Most of the time though, the drop offs go well. We have the same issue though. Sometimes when we take him to school, he is less hesitant to go and other times he walks right in. I know that nothing, as far as major changes, has taken place at her house. He has been in the same routine since birth with mom and dad. I think we may give him a picture of her and let him know that when he misses her, he can look at the picture and always be with her. Thank you again for your advice.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
More advice is welcome! Thank you!
post #5 of 12
does he have a lovey that goes everywhere with him? It might help. Talking and photos, very good, and sometimes just the "hey, I know you feel ------, would a hug from me help?"
post #6 of 12
Is he staying overnight with you guys? My stepson lives with us and didn't like staying overnight with his mom unitl he was 6 or 7 . He needed to come home to daddy at night.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

"I want my Mommy"

Yes, my stepson stays overnight with us. He has stayed overnight with his Dad since he was an infant. As I have mentioned before, he has "moments" that he wants his Mommy and will cry for her, but he is fine five minutes later. I need advice about what to do or say to make those moments easier on him. A lot of moments occur during transition from our house to his mom's and vice versa. Other than thise moments he does great with us. Thank you for your reply.
post #8 of 12
YOu sound like you are doing what you can. Kids that age have problems with transistions anyway, and some cry when changing. My son crys to leave our house to go to grandmas and cries when it is time to leave grandma's, too. (Just a few minutes, like you said.) I found with my stepson, when he was young, when he was upset about anything, he often said "I miss my mommy," and um, it MAY have been true, but it seemed like what he was just use to saying when he felt sad.
post #9 of 12
Hi! Chiming in here as a mom who sends kids to dad, not a stepparent...

I'd definitely suggest getting him a picture of mom Sounds like something that can help him keep the connection might be appreciated.

Is there a chance that he's feeling a bit distraught by having two separate households? Seems like 3.5 (or an infant!) is such a young age to have such long placements away from mom/his attachment figure. Perhaps this is an expression of tension over that? Have you checked into a counselor for an evaluation?

I don't mean to step on toes at all, and hope you aren't offended by my post. As a parent trying to work out visitation for my own girls, I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about what the girls' needs might be. We went to overnights very gradually, and always had the policy that "If she cries and wants to come home, bring her home." The point of visitation w/ Dad was not to meet some sort of set time standard, but rather to have an enjoying time together. We both agreed that if she isn't enjoying herself she'll just grow to resent it. (this is all the perspective of my youngest, who was born after the separation. My oldest hasn't had any problems going to dad's, but she lived with him for more than 2.5 years. And I also think it helps for there to be two of them...for instance, before dd2's first overnight, dd1 had an overnight alone with her dad. The next morning dd2 was really wondering where her sister was. When I explained she was sleeping at dad's, and that dd2 would be going over there at night, she was eager to do so. But there dad lives far away, so visits are clusterd with many days/a few nights every 3-4 months).

Anyways, just thought that maybe, since this seems to reallly concern you as being a problem for him, that it might help to get some outside opinion as to how he's adjusted to it. Even if it's what he's been doing all his life, it still might be hard to get used to shifting so much. Just a thought.

Sounds like you're a wonderful stepmama!
post #10 of 12
I have a 3.5yo DSS...he does the same thing. We let him call her. He usually feels better after that.
post #11 of 12
Not sure if you have good communication with "mommy" or not, but it might help if she preps him a bit, like when she drops him off at daycare saying "Daddy is going to pick you up today, I'll see you in 3 days." I know 3 is a bit young to understand or remember, but it may help. Otherwise it comes as a total surprise, which can be upsetting even for adults.

We were having some issues for awhile with DSD, where her mom was saying "I'll miss you so much while you're at your dad's" and stuff like that. I think it makes the kids feel guilty when parents say things like that. Not that we've managed to keep biomom from making those comments, but I think as DSD gets older (she's 7) she understands that she's allowed to have fun at our house, in spite of her mom's jealous remarks.

Also, if her mom has forgotten to tell her, I am generally greeted with "Why are YOU here?" at daycare. Normally, she knows I am coming and is fine about it, but if she is expecting her mom she is often unimpressed to see me. On those days I often get the "She's not my MOM!"

post #12 of 12
I want to echo Laggie's comments. He sounds like he is happy with you (once he gets over the transition) which is good. I would then wonder about the feelings in his "main" household about him coming to your house. Could he be on the receiving end of mixed emotional messages?

Maybe even at such a young age adults around him have made him feel this wasn't a "good" place to be coming (sub-consciously... I don't think they would do this deliberately). Once he settles in he finds, for himself, that it is fine and he is okay and gets on with it (until he hits a bump in the road and that old 'conditioning' flairs up).

Hey this is just a theory, but I would wonder how much he is reflecting the emotion of the predominant parent.

If that is the case, I would relax, let him cry (and process that emotion), reassure him, etc. and then get on with the business of showing him what a wonderful place your house can be: different to his main carer's but equally safe and with its own charm and a different set of stimuli and adventures to be had.

I also agree having a talk with the mom and if possible getting her to reinforce positive images/emotions about him coming to your house would help... but she may have mixed feelings herself, which could be exactly what the kid is picking up on. Do you feel she is happy to let him go? Or is she sub-consciously trying to hang on...?

Good luck and keep doing what you are doing - being there for him and showing him you care.
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