Child resents step-brother as well as step-mother Parent Q&A

September 27, 1998|By T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. | T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.,NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL FEATURES

Q. My husband has a 14-year-old daughter from a relationship that ended six years ago. He and I got together shortly after that.

His daughter has blamed me and her mother's boyfriend for preventing her parents from getting back together. I understand her feelings and have not pushed for any relationship between the two of us.

However, my husband and I have a 4-month-old son - and his daughter will have nothing to do with her baby brother. She has not even seen him yet.

I'd like for my son to have a relationship with his sister. Is there something we could do to encourage this? My husband says we shouldn't force her. When she's ready, she'll come around.

A. I agree with your husband. It sounds as if she may still be suffering from the family's breakup. As such, she may not be ready to try to accept and relate to someone she sees as an intruder into that family.

Pushing this girl too hard may be asking for trouble.

Children are the real sufferers in any broken marriage. It takes time and understanding to help them. You sound as if you are good news for her - in the long run. Don't push the relationship between her and her brother. Let her lead you.

Q. My 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter is bright, sociable and seems well-adjusted in every way. However, when she gets hurt (as 3-year-olds often do), she runs away and will not let anyone comfort her. It's as if she is embarrassed because she is hurt. Sometimes it is difficult to administer first aid because of this.

Should we be concerned? What do you think is the basis of this?

A. I am not sure what she is saying to you with this behavior, but I'd not let her get away with it. I think, as you do, that she feels responsible in some way, or wants to. However, stress or hurts are times when she needs comfort.

I would insist on holding and comforting her. Rock and sing to her to soothe her until she calms down. Then say, "I want to be with you when you are hurt. I love you and want to comfort you." Remember "Let me kiss it and the hurt will be better"?

Questions or comments should be addressed to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Dr. Brazelton regrets DTC that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Pub Date: 9/27/98

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