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Relationship may be on the rocks..

ImpImp Registered User
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey folks, dealing with a big one here.

my girlfriend and I have been together for about 8 months and although the beginning of the relationship was steeped in drama things have been going well. The issue at hand however, is that I'm having a hell of a time adjusting to her having a kid. The little one is almost 5, and awesome and smart and all sorts of rainbow-gibbering goodness but I can't relate to her for anything. I had a rough time growing up, my dad worked nights, my mom was always there but never liked playing with me. Lots of solitary playing in my room or doodling at the kitchen table. Now here I am with a kid and a similar situation. There really aren't any other kids in this neighborhood, and she's super affectionate and friendly (almost to a fault when we're out at the grocery store and she's waving and introducing herself to everyone that passes by) and I just can't seem to relax around her. I was brought up with a fairly stern hand (though I was never, ever touched in anger) and I'm realizing more and more that I don't know how to play with her. I know it should be easy, right? Or maybe not? I don't know how to come at this, and I've had almost no interaction with kids all my life. Any help or advice out there from someone who is in or has been in a similar situation? As always, thanks in advance for any words of wisdom or verbal swift kicks in the ass.

Imp on

Posts

  • EncEnc FloridaRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Dating someone with a child means, to a degree, dating the child as well. f you can't bring yourself to love both the mother and the child, then it might be best to not see the lady. Committing to this relationship would mean committing yourself to being the child's surrogate father, which seems to be where your hangup is.

    Do you love the woman? Do you love her child? If yes, then all you need to do is the best you can. There are no perfect parents and so long as you try, I imagine you'll be able to figure out how to work with the little one with some coaching from the mother.

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The kid sounds amazing. Just "try" harder.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

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  • SipexSipex Registered User
    edited September 2010
    This is definitely an interesting question.

    Well, first thing, you need to get more comfortable with the child, so maybe see if you can get some lone play time with them (ie: without mom providing a buffer for either of you). If this is already done on a regular basis you should be ok. I'd suggest doing it every day if you can find the time. At least 30 minutes if you can spare it.

    From there, find some things which are interesting for you and for her. Arts and Crafts are a nice outlet, you could also try going for walks/hikes and playing on climbers (you have a kid, most people won't care). Once she gets older try getting some lego too. Blocks are a nice other but they tend not to be too interesting for adults.

    Once you are more comfortable with her you can move onto things where she enjoys it more than you do since you'll get more of your enjoyment out of having fun with her.

    I'm not a professional mind you, just opinionated.

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  • ImpImp Registered User
    edited September 2010
    I want her to accept me as the "dad" figure more than anything else. The issue that's really kicking my ass here is that the previous "dad" figure just walked out after 3 years and the kid has some serious abandonment issues as a result.

    Now it's just a matter of learning how to play with a 4 year old I suppose.

    Thanks Enc and Esh.

  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Imp wrote: »
    I want her to accept me as the "dad" figure more than anything else. The issue that's really kicking my ass here is that the previous "dad" figure just walked out after 3 years and the kid has some serious abandonment issues as a result.

    Now it's just a matter of learning how to play with a 4 year old I suppose.

    Thanks Enc and Esh.

    Well, you're not going to get that if you're standoffish.

    Dive in! She's not going to judge you.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    Imp wrote: »
    I want her to accept me as the "dad" figure more than anything else. The issue that's really kicking my ass here is that the previous "dad" figure just walked out after 3 years and the kid has some serious abandonment issues as a result.

    Now it's just a matter of learning how to play with a 4 year old I suppose.

    Thanks Enc and Esh.

    Well, you're not going to get that if you're standoffish.

    Dive in! She's not going to judge you.

    Word. You are thinking about it too hard. Just do.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Honestly, if you're taking her grocery shopping with you or including her in on things, you're probably doing better than you think.

    My rapid-fire advice: find something that the child enjoys doing and try to include yourself in it. It doesn't actually matter if you like it or not (no grown man really gets thrilled by having a tea party with stuffed animals and imaginary friends), any fun you derive from playing with a child is usually the result of the joy which the child gets from the experience.

    So, random hypothetical. You both go to the zoo. She's excited by a zebra. And maybe zebras aren't your thing -- they're basically just striped horses, am I right? -- but that doesn't matter, she's excited. So ask her why she's excited: "Sarah, what's your favorite thing about zebras?" She giddily tells you, and it will probably be something like, "they look like horses but they have stripes!" which sounds stupid in the abstract considering that's why you might think zebras are fucking boring. Only she says it with the joy and enthusiasm of someone who has never, ever before in life beheld a zebra. Because she probably hasn't.

    That's the part that's supposed to be fun. She's seeing so much of the world for the first time that it's like you get to see it for the first time, too. Ask her as much as possible about what she sees and how she sees it.

  • GonmunGonmun He keeps kickin' me in mah dickRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Imp wrote: »
    I want her to accept me as the "dad" figure more than anything else. The issue that's really kicking my ass here is that the previous "dad" figure just walked out after 3 years and the kid has some serious abandonment issues as a result.

    Now it's just a matter of learning how to play with a 4 year old I suppose.

    Thanks Enc and Esh.

    Imp, I am in a relationship almost exactly as the one you are beginning. I met my so after she and her husband had begun proceedings for divorce after they were separated. My son (that's what I consider him) was 4 when his mother and I started seeing one another. It's not something that you will have to expect him to accept and want at first for someone to come in to be a father figure but the best advice I can give is to be supportive of his mother and of course be as supportive of him as much as you can.

    desc wrote: »
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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Imp, you gotta figure something out first.

    Do you want to really commit to the relationship and stay? Do you feel the relationship lingering and are considering ending it? If it's the latter, then you do not need to develop a strong relationship with the daughter. I bring this up because the beginning of your OP reads like you have issues with the relationship, but by the end of it, the OP reads like you're just concerned with interacting with the yougin.

    But really, I think you just need to relax a bit. I have a god son around the same age and I don't approach him as anything other than another person. When I'm hanging out I basically try to include him with whatever I'm doing, if interested, or toss and throw him around, etc. If he wants to show me something, I pay attention. If he wants to play a game, if it's not something long and drawn out then I'll play with him. Otherwise he plays by himself in his room. Don't feel bad about this. The kid most likely doesn't as well.

    Just be natural and laid back.

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  • UnderdogUnderdog Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Colouring! Either get a colouring book or, if you've got a decent hand, draw something to colour. And do it with her of course. When you're playing with kids, you're going to have to do things you wouldn't normally do and it'll feel foolish to do them but you've got to forget about stuff like that. And really, it won't matter anyways. She's not going to think you're dumb for sitting down and chattering to her about how red is a great colour for the eyes because it makes the orange face stand out more. It'll actually be right on her level.

    To play with a child, you've got to become a little bit of a child yourself. You can't sit down and talk to her about how the latest healthcare bill is bullshit.

  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I have a (almost) two year old, and when I want to play with him I just see something he's doing or something I know he likes doing and dive in. Yesterday it was playing with his stacking cups. Just try things and see what they like and then do more of that. In my example, I would try to stack them and help him do it, but if he started tearing and down and trying to put them in each other, we'd do that instead. Eventually it devolved into him throwing them everywhere, but that's a boy for you. As long as they seem to be enjoying themselves, you're doing something right.

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  • flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    My dad is a wizard with children, possibly because he loves kids and possibly because he's a goofy guy, which makes him fun to be around. Enthusiasm and involvement go a long way

    Be interested in what she's doing or saying, involve yourself in the activities she's doing, suggest things that you know she likes. This girl sounds like a sweetheart, and in general kids like doing activities. If you love this little girl its going to show

    It sounds like your problem isn't how much you care but an awkwardness when playing with her. Like other people have said, you don't need to overthink playing

  • SojornSojorn Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Learning how to be good with children is as easy as learning to tap into your inner child.

    Be silly, be spontaneous, use your imagination. Learn to be ok with being a human jungle gym for them to swing from, climb on, and whack with nerf baseball bats.

    Just have fun. Don't try to look at it like a job or a responsibility. Look at it like you're trying to get to know a little person with their own thoughts and ideas, who also happens to have a sense of innocence about them.

    You've got a great opportunity here to try and help influence a person as they grow into an adult. Being a dad figure isn't required, but thinking of them as an honest friend that you like to hang out with helps a lot. They will, I guarantee, surprise you with how remarkable they can be.

    This is coming from a guy that has dated plenty of women with kids. The kids don't need an overbearing father figure...they need someone they can trust and have fun with. You being a father to them is *their* choice, but it's something you have to earn as well, if you want to. They'll let you know when they think of you this way.

    And even if it doesn't work out with the mother, you can be proud knowing that in some small way, or maybe even in a few big ways, that you helped positively influence the life of another person, and maybe even made a good friend along the way.

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  • DodgeBlanDodgeBlan Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    if you are too awkward to have fun doing the things the kid enjoys, get the kid to do things you enjoy with them. It might be easier for you to relax and relate that way, and then you can try other stuff. I'm assuming you like video games right? See if you can get her into some kid game.

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  • ImpImp Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Thank you so much for the advice, all of you. I spent the majority of my workday rolling this around, and when I came home to her tonight I was genuinely excited to spend a little while helping her get ready for bed and conspiring with her to suprise mama with a "huggin sammich".

    Really, you're all effing amazing.

  • KazakaKazaka Registered User
    edited September 2010
    This is some legitimately heartwarming shit right here, boys. /JJonahJameson

    Naw but for real though, congratulations and I hope the relationship itself goes well too.

    ... They ate, slept and worked. Some of them found uninteresting partners at work who they married and came home to. Sometimes they would half-heartededly thrust into each other and children were made. They lived a middle class existence until their deaths to heart disease and cancer.
  • ceresceres Just your problem OooSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited September 2010
    I haven't been around kids much in my life, so this is something I worry about sometimes too. It's comforting to hear this is working. :)

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