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Unsure of how to handle this situation with my boyfriend's 4 year old son...

holyhansolo's picture

My boyfriend and I haven't been dating long, but we got very serious very quickly and so when he spends time with his 4 year old son, I spend time with him too and I watch him at night when my boyfriend is at work. He started calling me "mom" almost as soon as I met him and I figured it was because he's just used to saying "mom" when he needs/wants something like most kids are and when he does that. I didn't want to encourage it by pointing out to him that he shouldn't call me "mom" and have him say it more often and I also didn't want to make him feel bad by telling him not to call me mom, so I would just remind him that his mom was at her house and that he was spending time with me at daddy's house, I thought that would help clarify things if I helped him realize that his mom was somewhere else and that he was at his dad's house with another person.

But now, the last 2 time we've had him, he's asked me if I'm now his real mom. The first time he asked me that, I did the same thing, I told him "Your mommy is at her house right now, and I'm your daddy's girlfriend and we're spending time at daddy's house right now and you'll go back to your mommy's house on _______". But this passed weekend we had him again and this time he asked me "Are you my real mom now?" and I repeated what I told him last time and he continued and said "But you're the one that cares about me, so now you can be my real mom". I didn't know what to say to that, so I told him that I do care about him and repeated the same thing that I had been telling him. He kissed my cheek and said "No, you're my mom now". I didn't encourage it anymore and told him that it was bed time so we needed to do our bedtime routine so that way I could talk to my boyfriend about how he wanted to handle this.

The other two issues I'm concerned with is that he told me that while he's at his mom's house, he's allowed to say things like "What the f@#%". I of course told him that his dad was not ok with him saying those words at his house, and he asked me why he couldn't say it at his dad's and he could say it at his mom's.. I didn't want to be the one to answer that so I told him that we would ask his dad about it.

The other is that she let him watch Paranormal Activity. He specifically said that he's too scared to go to sleep because he had a nightmare about it and he started to describe it very vividly: the ghosts in his nightmare where chasing him with sticks, one ghost hits him in the stomach with a guitar, he falls down and hits his face and there's blood everywhere and the rest of the ghosts throw glass at him. He's only 4 years old and he described a nightmare that would have woken me up in a panic, it was heartbreaking to hear! Although I'm not religious, my boyfriend is, so I told him that you can ask god to take away your bad dreams and that if you get kisses on your forehead, it takes away scary thoughts. He really likes those ideas so we did both before bed time and he went to sleep on time.

I told all this to my boyfriend, but he and I haven't been able to sit and talk about it yet, but he knows what happened and said that I handled it the way he would have wanted me to, but now I'm really worried about how to deal with this and how to let his mom know that her son is saying these things to me. I definitely don't want her to find out from the son that he's calling me his "real mom", I think it would be better to take the initiative and have my boyfriend talk to his ex-wife. This is the first time I've dated anyone with a child and while I do have several cousins/nieces/nephews that I spend a lot of time with and helped raise, I've never been in a "step parent" role before. My impression of the mom is that she's young, immature, and doesn't discipline her son very much. I understand that it's my boyfriend's responsibility to make sure that he and his ex-wife are on the same page when it comes to a parenting plan, but she's difficult to deal with and my boyfriend tries not to stir things up with her and keep things civil. But I really want to suggest to him that he have a very serious talk with her about these things and how it's not good for their son. She never drops him off when she's supposed to and will go off schedule and delay the time he's suppose to spend with his dad and I, and I think that's what's confusing him the most. I think it would be best for him to have a very clear and laid out schedule so he knows when he's going to see his mom and dad and I think he needs to spend time with his dad more often, because right now the mom will only drop him off when it's convenient for her and my boyfriend tries to talk to her about dropping him off more often/on time, but has a difficult time trying to talk to her.

I guess what I'm asking is what my role should be in this, if any, and if I'm doing anything wrong/right by having a relationship with my boyfriend's son. I completely understand that I am not a parent and I have no say in what's best for my boyfriend's son, but I do help take care of him, I spend a lot of time with him, and I love him very much and just want what's best for him even if it's not what's best for my boyfriend and I. Any advice?

lucky7's picture

I think it sounds like you are handling this very well! And I commend you for being such a positive person in this child's life! You are re-directing him to his dad when he comes up with questions that should be answered by a father, and you are caring for him. You have not tried to over-step by talking to BM which is how you should keep it. Let dad handle her and if he won't then unfortunately, your hands are tied. If you happen to have a really good relationship with her, you could maybe talk to her, but if not, it won't be received well. Being a SM is harder than people think... you sound like you are handling it like a pro! Keep up the good work "real mom" and good luck!

holyhansolo's picture

Thank you! I really appreciate that! I've been thinking about it non-stop since his son when back to his mom's on Monday, whether I've been handling this right or if I'm making it worse.. so I definitely feel better now that I've gotten some feedback. Thank you.

I feel like I should let his mom make the first move when it comes to meeting me or talking to me, I don't feel like it would be appropriate for me to approach her. And I definitely feel like things concerning her son should come from my boyfriend and not from me even if their son said those things to me.. I feel like they're the ones that should be talking about it and deciding how it should be handled after I talk to my boyfriend about it.

This is definitely harder than taken care of my nieces/nephews/cousins.. but I just want to make sure I'm doing the right things.

amber3902's picture

Next time he askes you are you his real mom tell him, "No, I'm not your mom, I'm your daddy's girlfriend and I do care about you very much."
If BM is young and immature, I can see her blowing up that BD is letting his son call someone else Mom. I carried my girls for nine long months and if my ex was letting my girls call someone else Mom I'd not like it. I EARNED that title and I can see BM getting very upset about this.

I'd also avoid any contact with BM, best to err on the side of caution with this. Sometimes SM and BM can get along, but I'd wait until she approaches you before trying to establish any kind of relationship with her. She may get along with you or she may hate your guts. Best thing is to keep your distance until you can figure out how she feels about you.

I suggest coming up with a nickname for yourself for him to call you -like Aunt Holy.

As far as the schedule goes, you are right that a routine would be better, but this is something that BD and BM will have to hash out. Hopefully BD can help BM see how a set schedule is good for their son. Really, the court order if they have should spell all this out for them and they should stick to it. If there isn't a court order BD needs to get one established so he is not at the mercy of BM as to when he can see his son.

BTW- That was great how you handled his nightmares!

StickAFork's picture

I have very loving relationships with my kids, and the LAST thing I want to ever do is hit them. EVER.
Oh, and I see them everyday and pay for their every breath.

To each his (or her) own. Wink

dontcallmestepmom's picture

Sadly, I do think it is real. It reminds me of some of the high school kids I have worked with, the lack of maturity and the sense of entitlement. My DH's daughter also comes to mind, because if she saw an opportunity to collect a SS check and cause grief and drama, she would do it. She would also want to beat up her "man's" ex-girlfriend, which is what NONMommytoTwinAngels wants to do.

I have no doubt that NONMommy has caused much stress in this whole situation. I almost wonder if her husband is really trying, and she is just making it impossible for him. Her attitude is absolutely disgusting.

amber3902's picture

OMG Please do not listen to Mommytotwinagels. She is not a mom, she does not know what it would be like to carry a baby for NINE months and then have that child call someone else mom.

And please do not listen to the advice about the "double date meeting" with the BM. That is a recipe for disaster and I would not take advice from someone who wants to beat up her husband's BM.

amber3902's picture

Thanks - dontcallmestep
Oh yeah - HERE is how Mommytotwinagel feels about her husband's BM. I'm quoting so she doesn't get smart enough to go back and edit her post.

"haha I have tried to get BM to meet up with me when she says shit but she is too much of a coward. I would love to beat her ass though. I think it will just make me feel good lol I guess that makes me immature but who cares. She tells everyone she tried to get me to fight her and I backed down. Yeah right! SHE is the one who ran out to her car and I followed her-telling her the next time she tries to ACT like she wants to fight, it better not be in front of the kids or at her parents house(which is was that time). I just tried to get her to meet up a couple weeks ago when she was talking shit via text, but of course, she did not lol Oh well, it will happen one day. Most likely after Court. It is the ONLY reason I have not done it yet. She will just be staring at my husband like she does and I am just gonna snap and kick her right in the fucking face lmao"

OP - I would NOT take advice from this poster about how to get along with the BM.

holyhansolo's picture

Well, do you have any advice that could help me in how to deal with these issues? I'm not concerned with who's qualified to say what, I'm just worried about doing what's best for my boyfriend's son.

holyhansolo's picture

It's really not uncomfortable for me when he calls "mom", I like that he feels comfortable with me and that we have a good relationship.. I'm just concerned with him being confused about who his mother is and who I am.. and I don't want his mother finding out that he calls me "mom", that has to be heartbreaking for a mother to hear.

I don't feel like it's my place to meet his mother, I feel like my boyfriend should be the one to tell her and discuss these issues, but i dont know if i should stay out of all the issues or not.. i also think it would be better for his mother to make the first move in wanting to contact or meet me, or is that a bad idea? Have you met your step son's mother? Did it help or harm things by meeting her?

holyhansolo's picture

Those are good points, I like the different house different rules thing, I just think that's what he confused aboout. But thank you, I like how you put it.

amber3902's picture

OP - Yes, you should stay out of ALL issues.
Yes, let the BM make the first move in contacting you and when you do meet her, keep it very cordial and distant. Let ALL communication with the BM go through the BF. There is no reason for the two of you to communicate. This will save you a TON of headache.

I dated a man for two years that had a 7 year old son. I met the BM at the boy’s birthday party. It was hi, nice to meet you and that was it. She acted like she was cool with me. A few weeks later, my BF and I showed up at his son’s football game. First time BM stayed in her car the whole time. The next game she walked right past us like we didn’t exist.

I never talked to her on the phone, text or anything like that. I let BF and BM do all the communication. Granted, there was still drama, but by me keeping out of it, it helped keep it to a minimum.

The son wanted to call me mom, too. I told him no, he had a mom. He could call me aunt amber, or me maw(sp?), or something like that. But not mom. I wouldn’t want my daughters calling someone else mom, I was not going to do it to someone else. Even if that women did not deserve the title, I was not going to take it from her, because that would only be one more thing for her to cause drama over.

holyhansolo's picture

Thanks, I definitely agree with you that I should stay out of the way when it comes to issues about my boyfriend's son, I think all contact should be between my boyfriend and BM. I brought the issues up to my boyfriend, I feel like that's all that is appropriate for me to do.

The woman you call that individual's picture

You are doing the right thing.....Ripley's advice is spot on as well.