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Mixed Signals

newstepmomma's picture

My step-son is “all about me” when I’m not there, but when I am there he ignores me or acts like he couldn’t care less. Has anyone else had this issue?

It’s been more confusing for me than anything. All I hear from his dad is that he asks for me constantly when I’m working and gets upset when his dad tells him I’m working. Similarly, when I don’t go with his dad to pick him up from daycare he gets bummed out that I’m not there. But when I am home or do go to pick him up, he ignores me or is all about his dad. A lot of the time, when I try to talk to him he’ll ignore me or get an attitude with me.

 We’ve had a bit of a “rocky” relationship, as I’m sure every step-parent goes through! We have our good days and our bad days, but lately it just seems like he literally wants nothing to do with me when I’m there

Background info:

- My step son just turned two years old, so he’s young

- I have been around him regularly for about a year

- He is already a MAJOR daddy’s boy, even when it comes to his bio mom, which has made forming a relationship with him a bit harder because whenever he’s with us, he wants to be glued to his dad. 


I think all any step parent wants is to feel like they step-child loves them or is even ok with them and not constantly asking for the other parent when they’re spending time together (I.e. bath and bed time without daddy). I know with his age and the short amount of time I’ve spent around him, it’s not unusual for him to not “take to me” like his “mom”, but the mixed signals are driving me crazy!

MrsStepMom's picture

This is pretty normal 2 year old behavior, step parents or not. Also, how can you have a rocky relationship with a two year old? They barely speak!?

newstepmomma's picture

He surprisingly talks a lot/pretty well for a two year old! (He’s been in daycare pretty much since he was born so maybe that’s made a difference). But I just mean the usual “go-throughs” of being a step parent - I.e them only wanting their parent, or screaming/crying for their parent constantly when they’re with you. For example, we have made bath time “our thing”. If I’m home for bath time, I always give him a bath. It’s our way of having time just to the two of us, for better/worse. He used to cry all the time at bath/bed time and scream for his dad. He also is extremely clingy to his dad in general, which he always has been, but I feel it’s exacerbated when I’m not his biological parent. Likewise, he will instantly reach for his dad when I would get him out of his car seat, etc. I’m sure that’s all “normal” for young children and step parents, it just all plays into the feels. 


Its not necessarily that I think anything is wrong, moreso just venting cause being a step parent and doing essentially EVERYTHING a mom would do for a kid and then having them have absolutely nothing to do with you is HARD. 

SteppedOut's picture

I'm going to agree with MrsStepMom, how can you have a rocky relationship with a 2yr old?

Perhaps you should step back a bit? It sounds like trying to "be a step mom" is causing you some anxiety... maybe you aren't ready for all that?

futurobrillante99's picture

If your stepson is asking about you, it probably has a LOT to do with his sense of permanancy and stability. Checking to see if you're still in the picture, since his parents obviously didn't stay together. I'm not saying he wants you gone or doesn't like you. I'm saying he's checking to make sure his world is still the way it was for a sense of security. And when he gets home and you're there and dad's there, he can relax and do his thing even if that means being up his dad's butt.

newstepmomma's picture

That’s kind of what my fiancé and I were thinking. Or even along the lines of him being protective.... the idea that when I’ve got eyes on her I know she’s ok. He literally will freak out and start yelling for me even if we go to the grocery store and I go over to the next aisle! 

newstepmomma's picture

I have tried stepping back a bit since the “start” and we noticed a change. If he’s doing something he’s not supposed to do, I let his dad handle it. I’ve also stopped trying to “force” the relationship which has helped a lot! Being a step parent in and of itself isn’t stressful at all to me. We all have a great time together and I know that he really does care about me. It’s just learning how to navigate the temperament of a 2 year old, especially one that isn’t biologically yours. 

hereiam's picture

Maybe your BF is exaggerating when he tells you that his son is "all about you" when you are not there. Not that he's intentionally trying to cause a problems, but to make you feel like your SS loves you and you are all a family. Sometimes creating that illusion is really important for some guys! He may feel he's making it easier for you to love and accept your SS, if you think SS loves and misses you.

  My SD was 5 when DH and I got together and, at that age, she stuck to him like glue. Didn't bother me.


newstepmomma's picture

He doesn’t seem hyperbolic about it! Just says my SS asks about me if I’m not there when we usually do something. I.e he will come in and wake me up in the morning if I’m not working. If I am working, he will want to come say hi and be upset if I’m not there. I also can hear him in the background on the phone often when I’m talking to my fiancé or hear him yelling my name from the aisle over in the store. I’m sure he definitely tells me about the other times that I don’t hear to “make me feel better”, but I don’t believe he’s totally making it up. 

hereiam's picture

I didn't say that he's totally making it up.

Missing you when you aren't there, and ignoring you when you are, sounds like a typical 2 year old!

I wouldn't read too much into it BUT even at two, he should not be allowed to be disrespectful, like ignore you when you speak to him or give you attitude. His dad needs to call him out on that crap.

MrsStepMom's picture

My actual advice is to never be with someone with kids. It’s a miserable life. You have a better chance since the kid is young, but doubtful if BM is around still. 

tog redux's picture

OP, you are way overthinking this. He's TWO. He's barely human.  And he may never love you like his parents. He may always want them ahead of you, in fact, it's likely.  When my SS was 10 or so, he said to me, "No offense, I like you and all, but I only want my parents to tuck me in at night".  

You are in for a world of hurt if you are already obsessing over a two-year-old's acceptance. 

flmomma08's picture

It sounds like normal 2 year old behavior to me. My daughter is 3 and her dad and I are married but she does the same thing. She is super attached to me and cries when I leave her and even if I go upstairs, she's looking for me. It's normal for kids to have that attachment to one parent. Doesn't mean they don't like anyone else.