Life Advice



Ask Amy: Dad seems to vie for his son’s attention

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I’ve been dating a single dad for just over a year.

He only gets to see his 4-year-old son for a limited time each month, as his ex lives several hours away.

Over the past six months or so, we have been slowly increasing my time spent with his son (playing, blanket fort campouts, occasional outings around town).

It seems like his son has really warmed to me. He even asks that I come over to see them both.

I’ve never been around children, so I feel very honored that his kiddo wants me to be around.

However, recently it seems like my boyfriend resents that his son wants me to be there (almost like he wishes that his son wanted to hang out with him alone).


I don’t know what to make of this. I always figured that if the son likes me, then that’s a major win in the relationship category.

Is this a form of parental jealousy? — Wondering

Dear Wondering: Your boyfriend is acting jealous because he probably is jealous. Jealousy is a real human emotion, and parents sometimes feel jealousy toward their kids’ favorite teachers, aunts and uncles, spouses and partners because parents are human. Parents are not perfect and don’t always respond in ideal ways. And as much as children receive from their parents, parents also crave their children’s love and attention in return.

The age of four is a particularly wonderful stage of childhood, Children this age tend to be lively, fun, affectionate, and fascinating. Because his time with his son is precious — and fleeting — your guy wants to hoard it. He is likely conflicted because he wants to spend time with both you and his son.


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