Q: I met my boyfriend nearly 2 years ago online. He is in the army and was soon to be sent to afghanistan. He lived about 6 hours away from me but being that we just met I decided not to visit (for saftey) Once he was sent away we became very close, we scheduled web cam dates, sent letters, emails, cards, etc.

I learned that he was married once, and he took care of his daughter from that relationship. The only thing is the baby wasn’t his she was concieved the 1st time he went overseas. His wife admitted to the affair after a series of lies (rape, intoxication) they separated and he decided to take care of the child. (He felt the mother is unstable and she couldn’t find the real father)

Now dispite his messy history we have grown very close. The baby is now 2 years old. No one can tell him that she is not his daughter(he gets so mad) , and there are many days that I get tired of hearing about her aaalllllllllll day. But I understand, and am very excited to be apart of their lives. We have decided to take our relationship seriously so I will be spending a lot of time with them starting tomorrow.

My excitment turned to worry when he warned me that his daughter is very jealous! Even if his mother kisses him on the cheek she throws a fit, and hugs she prys herself in between. He also says that if she feels you are to close she will come and lay on his chest. (Ohh boy) What would you sugguest? Should I hold off on being affectionate until bed time? Should I try hugging him and show affection in front of her to get her used to it? I don’t want this to put a damper on our visit together! Help!

A: It’s really, really important to remember that you are the adult and she is the child. You are not competing with her for your boyfriend’s attention. You need adult attention. She needs the love and attention every child needs.

I don’t think this child is jealous. I think she is traumatized. She is only two and has lost her mother. Separating her from her mom may absolutely be the right thing to do but a little baby doesn’t have any way to understand that. All she knows is that her mother has gone away. It sounds to me like she is clinging to her daddy because, in her baby way, she doesn’t want to lose him too. You and your boyfriend need to talk to a therapist who can help you learn how to help this little girl feel more secure. If you two go forward in this relationship, you will need to do some serious work together for her to learn to relax and to accept you into the family.

In the meantime, go slow. You are not going to be able to turn this situation around during a visit so it’s better to not push for change. Start out by just being a friendly person in their lives. She needs time to learn that you are not a threat. You and your boyfriend need time to learn what it’s like when you are on the same couch, not on line. By all means, wait for your turn for your boyfriend’s affection when she is napping or in bed for the night.
Please be patient with the situation. Going slow now will pay off in the future.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Feb 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). How can I handle my boyfriend’s daughters jealousy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/02/02/how-can-i-handle-my-boyfriends-daughters-jealousy/