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Obsessed with each other

JBDmom's picture

My SD has major attachment issues with her dad. Seriously she has to literally be touching him all day long when he’s here and when he’s not she will have random crying fits at least 3 times a day where she screams and cries about how much she misses him. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do about this. I can sympathize with her to a point because I miss her dad too when he’s not here, but for her to literally sit here and scream at the top of her lungs multiple times a day about it I can’t stand. I know she’s only 4 but it seems so unhealthy and weird for her to be so obsessed with her dad. When he is her she hangs off of him all day and begs constantly for his attention to the point no one else is allowed to sit next to him or talk to him. She gets very jealous if he holds our 1 year old and will sit on top of him while holding her. She will sit in between us if I’m next to him when they’re is plenty of room on the other side of him. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even want to be around them. They’re so attached and weird and touchy with each other. He’s just as obsessed with her affection as she is with his. I don’t know how to deal with it at all. It grosses me out. 


SteppedOut's picture

I have a couple of questions...

Is this a new behavior, or is it always been like this? 

Have you discussed it with your SO/husband?

JBDmom's picture

It’s always been this way and we’ve discussed it so many times but nothing has changed except he thinks I’m being mean.

SteppedOut's picture

Did it just recently start bothering you? If not, if you saw this behavior and it bothered you and after discussing it and realizing he was ok with it and thought you were wrong... why did you move in/have a child together? 

It sounds like either you will have to learn to be ok with it, or remove yourself from the situation - when sd is there or permanently. 

If he does nothing to resolve this behavior, it WILL continue... 6, 8..13.

Sounds like a mini-wife in the making. Yuck.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Sounds like she has never been taught to self-soothe. She's 4 and been through some pretty massive life changes: BM and Dad no longer being together, Dad having a new SO, new sibling, maybe new living arrangement, not seeing Dad or BM all the time, conflicts on how she is supposed to feel about you, etc.

I can understand why she wants to cling to Dad. He's warm and comforting. He's her teddy bear.

But parents have to teach their kids that bad emotions happen, and feeling bad is part of life. That means kids have to learn how to soothe their own souls and control their own emotions. Teddy bears and security blankets exist to help with that transition of always having Mom or Dad be the comfort to having to comfort themselves in times of minor despair.

Try approaching it from a parenting perspective. "DH, you are doing a disservice to both DD and SD by not teaching them how to comfort themselves. They both have to learn how to soothe their own small wounds, otherwise they will seek others to soothe them for them when we aren't around. I don't want either of them to think it's healthy to NEED someone, maybe anyone, to make them feel whole. I'm not saying don't love them and cuddle them. When they do it for attention or out of jealousy, think about what you're teaching them. You're saying it's okay to physically push another out of the way or cling to someone to make themselves feel better. Eventually it won't be you that they are clinging to. It's going to be a boyfriend. And if you don't teach them how to not let their emotions override them, and you teach them that men are comfort objects, they are going to seek men - any man - for comfort. So let's talk about healthy boundaries with both of them, and call me out when I'm letting them be too clingy, too."

JBDmom's picture

Thank you! I have such a hard time explaining this to him but you explained it perfectly. I will definitely try discussing it with him again.

marblefawn's picture

I think the behavior might be nornal for a 4-year-old. I don't know anything about kids, but I think there's a developmental stage when the kid is finally cognizant of a parent exiting, so now the kid fears abandonment when a parent leaves, but soon puts together that dad can leave in the morning and return later and everything will be OK. It's a stage that passes quickly for normal kids who observe dad or mom regularly going and always returning.

I think the jealousy of the sibling is pretty normal too and as the little kid becomes more engaging, the older one will have more to enjoy and less to envy (hopefully).

The worrisome part of your post (and maybe it's just because I'm an unfortunate SM) is that your SD is competing with you. Maybe this is normal even with a BM, but that SD jealousy caused a lot of hardship in my marriage because my SD acted the same as yours, but she was 20-something! It was so weird to me that a daughter would feel this way about a parent.

It didn't work out well for me, but the damage was already done by the time I came on the scene -- my SD was a full on mini-wife nightmare. Your SD is very young, so you have a chance to address and counter this behavior now.

I think the best approach to break your young SD's inclination to mini-wife/jealousy behavior is a united front: to very firmly mark the difference between the parents (as in, the ones with the authority) from the skids. SD can't EVER be put on the same level as a mom/wife/SM/dad/teacher -- any authority figure -- just because she wants to be or feels she's the equal of any adult (and I've noticed that many parents elevate their kids to adult level nowadays -- it's weird to me). That means you and your husband BOTH discipline her, you both make decisions outside her presence, you back up your husband and he backs you up when it comes to decisions about SD, you spend time alone after she goes to bed, you leave her with a sitter and do things alone, etc.

That means your husband has to learn to say no to her. Good luck with that.


NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

I have a four year old daughter.  When she is feeling anxious, she has to touch someone's elbow.  It could be mine or any of her sisters. Heck, we took all the kids to see the Nutcracker for my 11's year old birthday in November and she was sitting next to a party guest who reported back to my daughter, "your little sister kept touching and holding my elbow during the scary parts."  So all I can think of is maybe she is constantly always feeling anxious and that's not healthy.