9 year old boy is the "underdog" - FamilyEducation
9 year old boy is the "underdog"
05/11/2009 at 15:20 PM

I would like to solicit your opinions once again please...

My son turned 9 in April. He and I are part of a "combined family". My fiancé is a strong and virtuous man and father; my son and I will move into his home on June 1st.
Living in our home will be: me, my fiancé, two of his children (18 yo girl & 13 yo boy) and my 9 year old son.

What seems to be happening is that my son is the "underdog" in most of our interactions. My son is the youngest and it seems like he is often the target of everyone's frustration. Our 18 yo girl often "bosses" him around and tells him to be quiet when he is talking or singing or making noise and such. Our 13 yo boy bops him on the head, tells him he is stupid, wrestles him to submission, tells him to shut up etc. My fiancé constantly monitors his table manners, is annoyed by his constant noises,claims our 9 yo is annoying (which he often is)... This stuff seems to be the rule rather than the exception. They also show love, support and acceptance for my son, but lately seem to be monitoring his areas of improvement constantly and not taking the opportunities to celebrate his areas of strength.

My son LOVES the family and never wants to leave when its time to go home. He adores the 13 yo boy and admires my fiancé. He is happy in the family and when I have asked him about certain events, he says it's not a problem - they are just trying to make him "tough"...

I feel like I should defend him. I feel like he has become the constant target for the family to monitor and harass. My fiancé maintains that my son tries to annoy and get attention (I believe he does) ... but should I speak up and defend him when it's CONSTANT? It's like he rarely ever gets to offer his opinion or be himself.

I wonder if this happens with the youngest child in original families or if this is because he is a new member of the family? I really just want some feedback about how normal this is or is not and how to handle it without overcompensating and babying and defending my son as a reaction.

Thank you!

I nanny for a family of 3 children, 10 and 7 y/o girls and a 4 y/o boy. Your description of the treatment of your son is somewhat similar to the way the older girls treat the 4 y/o. Yes, it is bothersome, we do not allow name calling, hitting, or "shut up" and we do intervene at times, but for the most part, it is unfortunately what the youngest child often has to deal with. In our case, the little guy has become very "tough" and continues to go back for more.

Hi - I too have a similar situation with my son being the youngest(11) my daughter (12) and boyfriend's son (12). For the most part the kids get along great... but around me... my son crys at the drop of the hat... he trys to hold it in - says he is good... but he tries hard not to make any waves. I've tried ignoring the crying and tried to address the what is making him sad. Is it immaturity? Is it a symptom for something deeply bothering him? My boyfriend calls him a cry baby (only to me) and says I am over mothering him... How do you know where to draw the line so you are caring but let them work things out? I am wondering if I should take him in for counseling? Any advice would be GREAT!

I think the rule about no name calling and no "shut-up" is a good rule of thumb, for a start.

First of all, let me state I'm no expert on blended families. As a mom of two boys, however, I have learned that it's best not to discuss discipinary action in front of your children. It's also better to take your partner aside and discuss any feelings you have about how certain situations get handled and what's the best way for both parents to handle them. In your case, I wld think it wld be beneficial to discuss these things ahead of time so you can both be on the same page. If one of you feels that the other is not handling a situation properly, you can give each other a sign (a nudge or a look to say, ok let's get on board together w/ this). Then discuss the situation when the kids are not present. You each know your own children best. I don't know what your feelings are about your fiance disciplining your son, or his feelings about you disciplining his children, but if you're both ok w/ it, discuss ahead of time exactly how you will handle doing this. This is particularly important b/c there are times when you or he won't be there, and you or your fiance will have to step in. As for the other siblings, from what I see w/ my own children, their behavior is normal. I can't say it's normal for blended families b/c I'm not in one, I just see it as normal sibling rivalry. If your son is seeking that extra attention, give it to him when you can. Teach him to respect your time as well w/ your fiance and his children, but do things together w/ him and w/ everyone. Always encourage your son to share his feelings, whether it be w/ you or your fiance or the other children in the house. It's important that no one is shut out or put down. Plan family night each wk where together you can share your thoughts, frustrations, etc. There shld be no secrets. This will be a big change for all of you. I wish you all the best.

How is your "underdog" doing? Is the situation improving?

Thank you for asking stepmom! I discussed this issue with my fiance and we decided that he would lead his kids by example. We decided that if he directed his kids to be more tolerant and allow me to be the only disciplinary they might think they were being "scolded"... SO, we decided my fiance would talk with his kids and explain that he felt as if HE were focusing too closley on my son's behavior and declare that he was going to give my son a little space to adjust and to be an individual. He encouraged his kids to do the same until Caleb can get his own solid position in the family and in the house. So far, I feel like it is working. We move into "their" home this weekend and I hope it feels more like "our" home soon. I think once we have our things and our own footprint in the house and neighborhood we will feel more at home. I think I am experienceing something like "cold feet"... but that is another post all together!! Have a great day!!

2xstepmom good post!