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Crossing the line OR Just being a loving father...?

LoLo777's picture

So my boyfriend and I moved in together almost 5 months ago. Been together about a yr and a half. He has a 3yr old girl, which we have 2 day/night out of the week. I have a 12yr old girl, who 99% of the time is with us. Im struggling BIG TIME with a couple things, and unfortunately this isn't something I feel co mfortable talking to my gfs about, in fear that they will pass judgement--- because let me tell ya, IIII am having a hard time not passing judgement. 

Anyways....when we first moved in and we had his daughter for the first time overnight at our new home, he told me he enjoys cuddling and laying in bed with his daughter whenever he has her(WE now). I suppose when he told me that I naturally just assumed he meant he enjoys to lay and cuddle with her UNTIL she falls asleep, but THEN would come to bed in our room. 

Boy, was I wrong. And it shocked me. And this is an issue I am SOOO far RIGHT about, and HE is SOOO far LEFT about. And if we are to make this work then we need to meet in the middle. So I compromised. I suggested that since we had only been in the house for like a week, and this is all new and different for her, then maybe I should be a little more patient and give it some time as long as he is willing to compromise as well. 

Well that was in Aug. It's now Jan. And in 5 months, the only progress or effort I feel like hes made is...right before bed, when she comes in to say goodnight to me, he tells her "Ok now just like I told you last week, Daddy is going to lay with you until you fall asleep but then I am coming back into daddys (OUR) room." And of course she does the whole, "Ok daddy" with a huge grin on her face, knowing damn well whats really going to happen. And it wake up a couple times and by the 2nd or 3rd time he ends up just staying in the room with her, and door shut. 

I can add so much more to that, and my issues and concerns with it, but I'll spare you because this next incident has me at a loss for words. Tonight was the first time I've actually been home when it's time for bed and when we have his daughter. Normally I am at work till 11, so I dont ever get to see their bedtime routine.

Tonight I walked in our room, expecting to see him giving her a bath since I heard the water running, but instead he was taking a shower with his 3yr old daughter in the shower with him! 

Please tell me if I am overreacting. And please, if you have ANY advice on how I can approach this conversation with him. And have a healthy and constructive discussion about it with out arguing....

Please. And thank you !

Kes's picture

At age 3, I wouldn't worry too much about the seeing your bf naked etc, although in a year or two's time it wouldn't be appropriate, and frankly, I don't think it's all that appropriate now, to shower together.   However what concerns me much more is that firstly the child is not learning good bedtime habits if she has her Dad sleeping with her.  She needs to learn to fall asleep on her own after a story or whatever and a goodnight kiss and hug.

But equally importantly, your bf needs to pay attention to your feelings about the situation, and sleep with you, rather than his daughter.  It will not be that hard to teach her to do this. If she wakes and comes to your room, he just needs to escort her back to her own room, reassure her, and put her to bed.  He may have to do it quite a few times the first few nights he does this, but eventually the number of times will reduce to nothing if he is firm.  But he has to be firm and consistent.  

susanm's picture

I would focus less on the nudity since that will immediately take over the conversation and become ALL that is talked about.  It will be "you think I am a child molester" and that will be that.  Convenient dodge to avoid the real issue.  Focus on the fact that he can't seem to say no to her and can not balance wife/daughter time.  You agreed to give him time to learn how to ease into it but he chose to make no progress.  Time to go cold turkey and that means kiss and cuddle and then leave her to sleep.  It will be hell for a while but he did this to himself.  "Super Nanny" has about 200 shows on this exact issue.  You can probably find a few on streaming services or Youtube.  

But there are generally lots of other spoiling behaviors that go along with this.  Be careful of the "mini-wife" act that goes along with the daddy-daughter dysfunction in early divorce.  You will learn a lot reading these boards.  Moving in is frequently an eyeopener.  Keeping your options open and avoiding your own accidental pregnancy in these early days is key!

lieutenant_dad's picture

First, I don't think your BF is doing anything malicious to his daughter. Different strokes for different folks, some families don't have issues with nudity and co-sleeping, etc. I'd let that part settle in your mind for now.

Where he IS screwing up is by lying to her, and her knowing it. If he says "only until you fall asleep", he needs to stick to that. It teaches his daughter that she can't take him at his word if he says something. It's a small thing now, but it plants the seed in her head that, as she ages, no doesn't really mean no.

It also doesn't teach her how to self-soothe through the night. Adults and kids alike wake up at night. It's a thing that happens. You have to learn how to fall back asleep on your own. It's a life skill one has to have.

I'd frame this as how it hurts her development and ability to trust him in the future and not on how you think the actual behavior is wrong. That turns it into a debate.

"BF, I'm concerned SD isn't learning some skills that she'll need as she ages and that she's going to lose trust in your word. Everyone, no matter their age, wakes up in the night and needs to learn to self-soothe. If the way she copes with sleeping is to always have someone with her in bed, then she's always going to seek having someone in bed with her when she's older. Also, she is learning that when you tell her you're going to do something, that you really aren't going to keep your word. She's learning that she can't rely on you to mean what you say. Currently, that works in her favor. But, that can grow into her manipulating you because she'll think that no doesn't really mean no."

Don't spring this conversation on him. Tell him you'd like to discuss this and ask him for a time that would be good. "Right now" isn't a good answer. I usually try for a weekend morning. Tell him the topic; it gives him a chance to work through any frustration he has on the topic before you two talk.

When you do talk, remind him that you don't think he is an uncaring or neglectful parent, just that you are concerned. If he gets mad and starts yelling, calmly end the conversation and tell him that now is clearly not a good time, but it does need to be discussed. 

You can also mention that this hurts your relationship, too, because you can't take him at his word. That by going back and sleeping with her, he's lying to you about his intentions to come back to bed. If you don't get off work until 11PM, sleeping and cuddling in bed is your intimate time together as a couple, and he hurts that part of your relationship - a NEEDED part of your relationship - by not coming back to bed. 

I would also explain that you don't except him to never stay in her room again. If she is sick or has a nightmare, it makes sense for Dad to go and soothe. But it can't be *every night* she is there, because eventually he will get worn out and take out his frustrations on you all.

Try this approach first. If that doesn't work, come back for a Part 2.

tog redux's picture

I'm with the others - it's not crossing a line (yet) but he's not teaching her how to sleep independently and he's neglecting time with you. Why have you move in if he's going to sleep with her every night? 

I think men showering with toddlers is kind of yucky, dangling their wiener right in her face, but I don't think it's generally considered sexually inappropriate until she's a bit older. 

stepgirlfriendfurmom's picture

is aware of gender and their own bodies is when anything like that has to end especially when talking about a child of the opposite sex. I think women showering with their daughters and men with their sons is a little less weird or like tog said yucky. 

I remember my dad used to do that with my sister when she was really little until the day she said "what is that? mommy doesn't have that" hahahaha. After that there was no more dad nudity in front of my sister.

tog redux's picture

Yeah, I just picture toddlers of both sexes touching it and swinging it, and being very interested in that apparatus.

I know some people feel nudity is natural and there should be no issue and I respect that - but for me,  modesty is fine, too.

stepgirlfriendfurmom's picture

and I know I don't have children of my own so people might say I would feel differently if I had a child, but quite honestly I don't think I would feel that much different. I wouldn't care dressing in front of my child, but showering with or bathing with? Yeah no, to me that is super intimate and I only want to do that with my bf

susanm's picture

I'm with you guys.  I have never understood the showering with your children thing.  Of any gender honestly.  Granted, I don't have kids and "inherited" my skids when they were already self-cleaning (LOL) but isn't the normal thing to launder them in the tub with bubbles and floaty ducks and boats?  And I always hear that parents of small children have zero time to themselves.  I would think that escaping for 10 minutes to the shower kid free would be a tiny bit of zen.  I can't imagine trying to navigate shaving my legs and rinse conditioner out of my hair while making sure a toddler does not slip on the tiles and knock herself out. 

Edited to add:  People talking about "reaching up and tugging/batting it" has me picturing a little kid doing a speedbag routine with tiny boxing gloves on a dangling ding-dong and I am giggling like a loon.  Yes....I have a very twisted sense of humor......

Exjuliemccoy's picture

My father was in his sixties when I came along, and I can still recall being in the shower with him at three. Ewwwww. The image is still in my brain, al these years later.

ChzyBob20's picture

Me and DH showered with our BABIES to be efficient (spit up and whatnot.) Not beyond that, though. Neither one of us slept with our children beyond babyhood, either. Our kids sleep independently and would actually be horrified if we tried to climb into bed with them.

justmakingthebest's picture

As all the others said, at 3- eh... borderline gross to shower with her but just because I am sure she is curious about his "apparatus" (as another poster put it). 

Nothing crossing a line yet, but it will be soon. Also, not something I would bring up to him directly. He may need to have it tugged on before he figures out that this is a no go. 

As for sleeping, he is damaging her emotional growth by sleeping with her every night. This is a common problem for a lot of Steptalkers. I don't know why it is but it is. This is the issue I would "die on the hill" for. He is going to have to keep putting her in bed and leaving her there. Over and over and over- She will get it! I promise, she will sleep on her own. He just has to be firm and direct. "Bed time, go to your bed." Don't say another word, put her in the bed and walk out. 

If he doesn't change the behavior soon, this problem will be on going until like several on this site have complained, she is like 10! If he isn't willing to establish a proper bedtime, I would honestly rethink the whole moving in together thing. 

If you start letting this stuff go it is only going to get bigger and bigger with more and more issues and resentment. This life doesn't get easier as the kids get older.

tog redux's picture

The sleep issue is just part of overall lazy parenting, most likely. They don't want to do the hard work of getting her to sleep on her own - which means poor sleep for them for a few nights. 

stepgirlfriendfurmom's picture

with him if he doesn't care enough to sleep with her vs his daughter?

It would be a hill to die on for me too! My bf never co slept with his children, doesn't think it is good for them, but after being with BM sometimes the older child (4) would come get in his bed in the middle of the night when I wasn't sleeping there or when I was there would get up in the middle of the night come out to our bed and start crying I always thought it was because she couldn't get in bed with "daddy" and I didn't like it at all. Sorry, but that spot is mine and daddy never lets you sleep with him anyway, but BM co sleeps with the kids so it really was frustrating for a while, but my bf would get up tell her to get back in her bed, etc. then come right back to me

ChzyBob20's picture

My husband's kid barged into our room at night a few times and just stared at us. Gave me the creeps!

Rags's picture

3 is long past old enough for this little girl to be put in bed, kissed goodnight and left to sleep by herself.

Alone neither the cosleeping nor coshowering would be deal breakers for me but the conglomerate of the two is a deal breaker. Particularly considering how long it has gone past his agreed ending point.

Time to just tell SO that both the sleeping in her bed and the showering together ends now or you rekey the locks and they can be a happy couple in someone elses home.

This is one of those you know it when you see it things as far as accepability is concerned.  This is not acceptable.

Maybe if mommy and daddy were still a happy couple and it was a family thing it would be less of an issue. But daddy is in a relationship with someone else which changes the dynamic completely.

Not acceptable.

IMHO of course.

stepgirlfriendfurmom's picture

I think a big thing a lot of parents struggle with is realizing that it is not that intact family dynamic anymore, so things a mother of the children wouldn't be bothered by, whether it be sleeping together, pet names, etc. are issues when the person you are with is not the parent of that child and have to adjust to respect the boundaries and relationship they have with their partner.

Harry's picture

Not being able to say NO to a three year old is going to be the big problem going on. First it's bad parenting, second as she gets older it's going to get worst.  Mini wife,  you are already second in bed. You going to be second in this relationship 

Ashleytenorio17's picture

Like many people have said already your BF needs to teach His daughter a good bedtime routine or you will be where I am currently at with SD10, yep 10 still wants to have daddee sleep with her. If DH doesn't agree with her all the sudden she is scared, she use to come in our room at night but I cut that crap fast! SD was use to sleeping with daddee on his weekends. As for the bath time/shower time, I don't see a problem with it but he needs to stop and give her a bath. I read that actually toddlers benefit from bath time routine and splashing in the water. Maybe what you can do if you want ( trust me I understand if you don't) is get her some cheap bath toys and bath soap so she will be excited and daddy can give her baths. Good luck 

BethAnne's picture

As others have said it is not necessarily inappropriate or necessarily a sign anything abusive is going on, but it definately is not condusive a a healthy adult relationship when your partner spends every night his kid is over sleeping with her. It is also something that is best transitioned out of at some stage soon. 

To be frank, if he wanted to change his habits he would have done it by now. I would move on and move out. 

Before I moved in with my husband his daughter (then about 4 or 5) slept in his room. She had a different bed but they shared a room as they lived in a two bed appartment with a room mate in the other bedroom. Before I moved in the roommate moved out and my husband started to transision his daughter into her own room. He made her room a special place for her and then started to slowly move her bed further from his bed, then into the hallway and finally into her room over the course of a couple of months. It seemed like a strange way to do it to me, but it worked for them and it meant that by the time I moved in she was sleeping on her own and my husband and I could have some privacy. My husband was a man who wanted to be able to have some adult alone time with me and worked out a way to transition his daughter to sleeping in her own room. He did not say one thing and then end up doing another. That showed me he cared about our relationship and was willing to make reasonable adjustments to fit me into his life. 

The shower thing, again is probably good to transition out of at some point, I can see though if she needs help washing that sometimes it is easier just to accept that you will get wet and join her rather than trying to stay dry. To be honest, your boyfriend is not prioritising your relationship with him (bedroom time) and so I would just move out and let him deal with the shower thing rather than trying to fight with him about it.

If you have suspicions because of other questionable behavior as well or if your gut is telling you that he is abusing her then please do tell her mother or the police. 

advice.only2's picture

Your BF is teaching his daughter to be co-dependant on him and he's showing you that your relationship is second to his relationship with his child. He's setting up to create a mini wife situation and you don't want that.

ndc's picture

My inclination, if I were you, would be to move back out and let your boyfriend know that you don't think he's ready for a committed relationship, since he's choosing to sleep with his daughter instead of his partner.  It sounds like he's paying lip service to your concerns but not really doing nearly enough to change the situation.

As for showering with his little girl - I don't think it's a good idea, but I would probably just keep my mouth shut since you're already bringing up other things with respect to his daughter.   Last year our bathtub was out of commission and my SDs (then 3 and 6) needed to shower.  Since they weren't familiar with showering, DH hopped into the shower with them, but he wore his swim trunks.  He showered himself once they were finished.  I think most fathers understand that things like this, even when innocent, aren't appropriate or a good idea.

Aniki's picture

^^Yep. All of it.

I remember showering with my Dad eons ago. I was 4-5. Mom had injured her hand (we were camping), so Dad took me to the showers and cleaned me up. He wore swim trunks. 

somethingwicked's picture


And ,OP,what if anything does your 12 year old think about any of this or have you been able to keep your concerns  from her?