Home Anxiety What Do I Do When My Boyfriend’s Son Competes with Me for His Attention?

What Do I Do When My Boyfriend’s Son Competes with Me for His Attention?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My boyfriend has 2 children, daughter is 8 and son is 12. Daughter is independent and comfortably attached to her father. The son however, is extremely needy! Daughter adores me and son likes me and we all have fun but he does NOT like seeing me with his father. Every time my boyfriend and I talk his son will interrupt the conversation with ANYHING rediculous, with any random question, saying its important. He needs it answered now! or will do anything to interrupt!

he will follow me if I go anywhere near my boyfriend. If my boyfriend and I go out of his son’s view he will come knocking, even if we close the door! I can count the seconds! He even follows his father to the bathroom! He still wants to sleep next to his dad, even when I am in the bed, when I sit next to my boyfriend he has to sit in between, when I hold his hand, his son wants to hold his hand. His son makes comments that he knows will hurt my feelings. Such as “I know we are going away for a few days, Ill let you his hand since you wont see him” knowing I am sad about it.

I don’t know what to do, I am so respectful, supportive, giving and everything in between for these kids but the son just won’t except it. The son is not close to his mother and wishes to be around his father 24/. before I came around, these children were spoiled and his father is now cracking the whip on boundaries but it doesn’t seem to be working. His son still will not budge on understanding boundaries.

I cannot stand it at this point! Something has got to give! I keep my mouth shut to his son but express misy feelings to my boyfriend, in which he understands me and is supportive about the situation. We need help in doing this suttle but with authority since his son is not getting the hint. I am exhausted and emotional about this. His son is causing my boyfriend and I to have discussions we do not need to have. My boyfriend and I do NOT argue, this is the only problem we have.

How can we get the child to get off his fathers nipple (so to speak!) Thank you in advance!

I’m sure this is very frustrating to you all. Thank you for writing.

Here are some thoughts that occurred to me as I read your letter: I don’t think the boy is “competing” with you. I think he is dealing with a number of developmental issues. He may not understand his parents’ divorce and may be afraid that his father will “divorce” him, just as he did the boy’s mother. He may think the change in his father’s behavior toward him (not spoiling him) is a sign that his father doesn’t love him any more. It may be that since there is tension between the boy and his mother, he clings to his father so, in his mind, his father can’t leave him too.

In addition, the boy is at an age when a kid becomes aware of sex and the reality that the adults in the house are being sexually intimate. The idea may be making him anxious. His solution is to do all he can to prevent you and his dad from being alone together.

Please don’t think about this as rational. It is quite unconscious. My take on the boy is that he is highly anxious about the changes in his family and his behaviors are a crude and unconscious way to try to get things back to his “normal”.

That’s my best guess about what may be going on. But an analysis doesn’t help you know what to do. Ideally, you and your boyfriend will seek out a family therapist who can delve further into what’s happening and who can give you practical suggestions about how to manage the situation.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

You may also like