Dear Dr. Bill,
I recently got married to a wonderful man who is going to adopt my three children, none of whom really know their natural father. My middle child, who is 3-years-old, hasn’t been taking to my husband like my other two have. Sometimes he says he doesn’t like him, and starts crying when my husband corrects or disciplines him. What can we do to help create that bond between them as a father and son?
When a parent remarries, it’s not unusual for their children to go through a time of adjustment. If you think about it from your three-year old’s perspective, all of sudden this new man moves into the house and takes away a lot of mommy’s time and attention.
Up until now he and his siblings had mommy all to themselves, and now they’ve got to share her with this “intruder.” Mommy is even kissing and hugging this man…yuk!
What’s even worse, this man is telling him what to do and punishing him when he misbehaves. He’s probably thinking to himself, “I just wish this guy would leave!”
Your husband is going to need to work extra hard to develop a bond with your three-year old. This means taking a real interest in him and spending special one-on-one time together.
He’ll also need to focus on praising your son when he behaves instead of simply disciplining him when he doesn’t. In other words he needs to “catch him being good.”
At the same time, you may need to become a little more firm with your son when he misbehaves. If you expect your husband to be the primary disciplinarian in the home, you will be headed for significant problems in the future, particularly when your kids reach the teen years.
Thanks for writing Gina. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Question” link on the Culture Connection page.