Hello everyone! I've been a single mom since my baby girl was about 5 months old. The dad hasn't been involved at all and I've basically done everything myself up until this point. I never married her father and have never been married. I've pretty much always been terrified of commitment up until I met the person I'm dating now, and will be getting married to in October. We've been dating for about a year, we broke up over last summer because I freaked out and needed some space (not sure I was ready yet) and we've been dating continuously since October. Things are amazing and he is great and finally won me over with his sweetness and how great he is with my daughter. The only problem is that he has a hard time disciplining her and usually gives her what she wants (she's a few months away from turning 3 years old) which I think is contributing to the bigger problem I'm posting about.
She's really having a difficult time lately. I know she must be going through some hard changes, though she does love Mark (fiance) she's obviously confused about who 'daddy' is. Her biological dad doesn't make any effort to be in her life, and she hasn't started asking about him until Mark started coming around more often. I've explained to her that mama and Mark are getting married so he will be her new step-daddy. I told her she can call him daddy if she wants to, but she seems very confused. How do I explain this to her?
She's also started acting out in other ways, which I think may be the result of Mark and I having different parenting styles. He's not comfortable disciplining her yet, though I've explained to him that it's really helpful for us to be on the same page. The new behaviors she's started exhibiting that really freak me out are: if I barely touch her or nudge her she says 'OUCH! THAT HURT MAMA!' or she'll say 'DON'T PUSH ME MAMA.' I have no idea how to react to this! It makes me feel terrible because obviously I would never do anything like that! Even when I'm trying to help her, she's started yelling at me. I don't know if it's because she's in the phase where she wants to do everything herself, but she seems to not want me around at all lately. One time she said 'it's all my fault' and started crying out of nowhere. I said no no!! it's not your fault, and ever since then she says 'it's all my fault' and gets a sad look on her face. I don't know what to do, that doesn't seem normal. I've never told her that anything is her fault, I don't know if someone said that at daycare or if she once heard me say that about myself? I don't know. She seems to be going through a lot right now and every minute of the day is a challenge.
I guess what I'm wondering is, is this all caused by the changes? Mark doesn't sleep over and we wont be living together until we're married, but he is at our house almost every day so that is a change. She's getting old enough to see that other kids have daddies and she doesn't so I know she's confused. Is this normal for a two and a half year old? Is this a phase they all go through or is it because I'm a single mother? I am just figuring this all out as I go and I don't really know what to do right now. A month ago I felt like things were totally under control and now I feel like I have NO idea what I'm doing.
I'm seriously so worried about this whole thing. Sorry if this post is a little scattered. I just honestly don't know what to do. I've talked to family members, most of which said to ignore the behavior, if she says 'don't push me' ignore it and if that doesn't work explain to her that i didn't push her and that she will go in the corner if she says it again because it's not true. I probably reacted at first saying 'mama would never do that!' and it made her say it more.
Someone else recommended a sticker chart? I'm trying my hardest to only praise her good behaviors but when she says things like that it just kind of breaks my heart that a two and a half year old would say something like 'it's all my fault' and cry. I need some serious advice, I feel like I need to figure out how to help these behaviors and make her feel okay about everything before I even think about getting married.
Your daughter's behavior sounds totally normal to me. Kids that age are just starting to experiment with how social relations work, and how people interact emotionally. You are just getting to that time when it seems like whole days, whole weeks are spent walking on tiptoe to avoid the next meltdown/exasperating behavior, and still getting caught up in them. Kids are weird! They say weird things, they get stuck on them, they play with the reaction from others or their own feelings over the words. I can easily imagine one of my kids at that age, finding some dramatic, tragic thing and saying it over and over.
I would just go with it. If she says something so sad, like "It's all my fault", turn it into a silly melodrama- "Oh, honey, that's just terrible! Come here and let me snuggle you, you poor poor dear! It's so sad, I just want to cry my eyes out!" Start fake crying and pretty soon everyone will be giggling.
Seriously, it's ok. I wouldn't try to punish her or give her rewards or anything. If she says you pushed her, say "Oh you mean like this?" Then pretend someone pushed you hard and fall on the floor. She'll laugh and the moment will pass.
Step mom to Malakie, Cameron , and Aurelia