Am I overly concerned? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 05-10-2010, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a new step-mom and my 4.5 yr old step-son is wonderful. I am a stay at home mom/wife right now and my husband shares custody and parenting time with his ex-girlfriend. My step-son and I have a terrific relationship (we clicked right away 2yrs ago) and have really bonded over the past 8 months (he calls me his 'favorite' and tells me he loves me all the time). He is a gifted child who is exceptionally creative and hilariously witty. He loves being challenged so I make a great effort to teach him new things daily and constantly move thru different activities that include art, science, puppetry, reading and indoor & outdoor play.

Unfortunately, my relationship with his birth mom is not good (non-existent I guess as she hates me) due to the fact that I do not agree with her verbal abuse (she yells at and demeans him regularly), her spanking him, her introducing him to her rotating boyfriends (who are 20yrs older than her on average and also into bondage/fetish), her narcissism, her cruel attempts to alienate my husband from his son and her fetish and bondage lifestyle (she posts naked pics and videos of herself all over the net and has left naked images lying around where my step-son has found them).

This woman has been co-sleeping with my step-son since he was a baby (he has only ever spent one night in a crib). He has had his own bed with us since september 2009 but because she co-sleeps with him we have to be in his room in order for him to be able to fall asleep every night. We have to wait until he's asleep and then we quietly leave his bed and room. We are teaching him about being a 'big boy' and how all kids have their own beds and sleep on their own and he seems to be ingesting this idea. His mother refuses to consider not having him sleep in her bed with her and I am concerned about his development being hindered. Will he grow up less independent? He is very attached to me now -very demanding of my attention -family members have commented that he is very attached to me. I will admit that I feel sad about how selfish his mommy is and I give him constant positive attention. I am concerned with how he will fare in kindergarten this fall. My husband and I would like to help him be more independent.

Any ideas on how to help him fall asleep on his own in his bed or be more independent in general would be great.

Thank you!
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#2 of 10 Old 05-10-2010, 09:51 AM
 
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It is obvious that you care for the boy a great deal. But... These really are issues that Dad and Mom should be working on together.

I really can understand why she's not fond of you - this is her son, and you seem to be getting a bit too close to trying to take her place. I'm sure it's not intentional on your part - just a manifestation of how much you love him - but it is going to raise her hackles. I know it would mine. Leave it to Dad to deal with her, and stop making your opinion of her parenting clear. It may ease things quite a bit. She is, after all, half of the boy.
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#3 of 10 Old 05-10-2010, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"It is obvious that you care for the boy a great deal. But... These really are issues that Dad and Mom should be working on together.

I really can understand why she's not fond of you - this is her son, and you seem to be getting a bit too close to trying to take her place. I'm sure it's not intentional on your part - just a manifestation of how much you love him - but it is going to raise her hackles. I know it would mine. Leave it to Dad to deal with her, and stop making your opinion of her parenting clear. It may ease things quite a bit. She is, after all, half of the boy."


Well unfortunately the problem is his mom is not interested in co-operating in any way. She is a narcissist and that means she is completely selfish -she's not really interested in the well-being of her son. He has problems with pant wetting, emotional breakdowns (usually about how much his mommy hurts his feelings), and never wants to go back to see her (even runs away from her down the street -screaming and begging to stay with us). She also negatively coaches him by telling him lies like that I am a kidnapper and I steal kids and take them away forever. She also brings him along to sleep over at the homes of her various boyfriends (she has dated as many as 4 men at the same time and they have changed as quickly as in the same month). Any time my husband or I have brought up our concerns, she completely denies there are any problems or anything is innappropriate and is completely disinterested in discussing anything. She's not even interested in visiting any schools for next year. That's up to us too -so we've been doing that by ourselves too. We have begun to take him to a child therapist for his behavior issues and traumas but she viciously tried to stop that from happening and has made it clear she is not interested in being involved. So we are well aware that we are on our own -to deal with my step-son's issues alone.

My question was whether any veteran parents have any ideas on how to help a child learn to sleep on their own or on how I could help my step-son not need to be next to be every waking moment since full time school is looming around the corner. He follows me everywhere I go. He even camps out outside the bathroom door when I have to use the toilet or take a shower. He likes to try and match colors and clothing with me, likes to eat the same foods and drinks (as in same juice flavors). He always wants to be doing every activity he's doing with me involved too. He even has begun to call me 'mom' here and there to test the waters. Admittedly, I don't have a problem at all with him wanting to be around me so much but it worries me that he may grow up to be too needy.

Thank you!
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#4 of 10 Old 05-10-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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It sounds like you have more serious problems than co-sleeping and "growing up too needy."

How do you know about these behaviors in the mom? Is there any way you can document them? Start doing that, and talk to a lawyer about getting full custody.
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#5 of 10 Old 05-11-2010, 10:49 AM
 
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It sure is frustrating, to have markedly different values and a markedly different approach to parenting than your step-child's mom. My husband has custody of his son from before and Mom lives acros the country. So, in a way it's nice (for me) that my step-son's exposed to our ways, the majority of the time. But it's still frustrating, when Mom does things so differently and you just have no control over it. You're in a position to feel like the kid's mother, but someone else actually is. There's no getting that pebble out of your shoe!

It's important to conciously distinguish between the issues that are really problematic and the ones that are largely trivial differences in personality and parenting style between you and the Mom. That's not to say you'll gain any control over the things that are truly problematic. But:
#1: You'll reduce the number of issues that make you sit and stew and resent the mother. That negative energy isn't good for you and the more of it you generate, the greater the chances the kid will be aware of it and the Mom. Part of the reason she "hates you" is because she senses that you disapprove of her so deeply and hold yourself above her. I'm not saying you're wrong! But how can one expect her to feel about you, considering what you think of her?
#2: If, in the future, you and your husband come to the conclusion that one of the significant issues - say, the exposure to Mom's sex life - requires action, like reducing her custodial rights, you'll make stronger arguments in court if you can stay focused on the important stuff. So, practice now.

Co-sleeping, for example, is common all over the world and plenty of people in this country do it, as well. The age when kids adjust to having their own bed varies wildly. Plenty of kids who grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted and secure were still sleeping in their parents' bed at 4-1/2. If he's still sleeping with his mom as he gets closer to puberty, some intervention would be warranted, but you're far from crossing that bridge. If you want him to sleep in his own bed at your house - where you do have control - that's fine and it sounds like you guys are working on it.

Ater a reasonable bedtime routine (kisses, tucking in, story), just one adult should sit in a chair and read to themselves or work on a laptop. Minimize interaction with him as he goes to sleep. If he keeps trying to engage you, ignore him for a few minutes, then - before he gets really upset - look up and smile and explain, "This is your time to go to sleep and my time to read. I don't mind doing my reading in here, if you want me to, but this isn't talking time. I'll talk to you about (whatever's on his mind) tomorrow." Repeat. Remain patient. As days pass, move the chair further and further from his bed until it's in the hall. Once you're in the hall, get up every once in a while and say, "I have to go check on Daddy/the dog/my tea kettle, but I'll be right back." At first, come right back. As days pass, stay gone longer periods until you're not so much sitting in the hall watching him go to sleep as doing other things in the house and checking on him from the hallway every once in a while.

He's only 4. You don't have to explain all your reasoning to him. He doesn't get to debate with you why your chair's further from his bed tonight. If he debates with you, he will think he has the power to change your mind. A simple, "This is where I want to sit tonight. The light's better for my reading. It's time for you to go to sleep," is plenty.

I'd also avoid all the, "Big boys sleep in their own beds," stuff. There's no need for you to plant the seed in his mind that what he does at his mother's home means he's treated like a baby there. It's enough to say, "At our house, we like kids to have their own beds. Isn't yours nice? Look what a handsome blue comforter you have. Isn't your pillow soft? I'd love that bed, if I were a kid!" No matter how much you disagree with the Mom, it's not good for him to think she's bad or that she doesn't parent him properly. If he comes to that conclusion on his own when he's older, so be it. Don't push him into thinking it - even inadvertently. If he thinks his mother's bad, he will think part of himself is bad. It's important to remember that. I have to remind myself of that a lot, too.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#6 of 10 Old 05-12-2010, 09:52 AM
 
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I know a wonderful mom who has a boy who still wanted to cosleep until about age 8 or 9 ish. She wondered if it was ok, but listened to her heart and her son. Now he has graduated from college and chose to move thousands of miles away for a fantastic career opportunity. He is very independent, healthy and has a great life.

My opinion: wanting company at night/cosleeping is normal. Other behaviors you mention raise red flags. Thank you for caring so much about him.

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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#7 of 10 Old 05-12-2010, 10:03 PM
 
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Like the others have said, co-sleeping isn't the issue. The only way it could be is if mom has the boyfriends also co-sleeping. That would be cause for concern. And the PP is right, he doesn't get to argue or question your decision. Some things just are.
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#8 of 10 Old 05-13-2010, 05:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brookie514 View Post
...if mom has the boyfriends also co-sleeping. That would be cause for concern.
Yes, of course! In my mind, that would merit going to court and asking for no overnights at Mom's. And I think that's a pretty harsh thing to ask for.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#9 of 10 Old 05-14-2010, 12:17 AM
 
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In order for children to learn to be independent, they must first learn to be dependent. They need to know that adults can be relied upon, that someone will be there when they wake up in the morning, will tend to them when they cry, will feed them when they are hungry.... most kids learn this as infants and grow up feeling securely attached to a parent or caregiver, and they are able to venture out from this secure base and try things out on their own. Some children, especially if they have chaotic, inconsistent, or unresponsive caregiving, don't learn this as infants. In the best cases, they run across a caregiver during their childhood who is consistent and responsive and they are able to learn this trust. Some of these issues may still linger, though, especially if they continue to experience inconsistent or unresponsive caregiving from one parent.

So consistency, reliability, predictability... all these things from a parent help kids learn that it is safe to be independent. You may be overcoming the way his brain wired itself as an infant, so I'd expect it to take lots and lots of time and repetition to re-wire it. Here's a good article from Bruce Perry with tons of info on this topic: http://www.childtrauma.org/images/st...r4_03_v2_r.pdf

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#10 of 10 Old 05-27-2010, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for taking the time to share your terrific suggestions -I really appreciate your kindness and generosity.

Have a beautiful day!
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